Monday, 11 July 2016


Title: Rehearsal (October/November 1999)
Format: A double-CDr set (plain silver discs) in a colour paper sleeve released on the Smell The Stench label (Australia) in 2015, no catalogue reference.  The sleeve is a one-sided colour print, folded in half to form the front and back covers.  The discs are housed in two paper sleeves within the cover (on my copy, one sleeve is green and the other blue), and the rear of the cover shows the edition number.
Edition: 22 hand numbered copies
Track Listing:

Disc 1
01. Das Lied Von Lorien (Die Sprache Der Elben Ichseits Der See)  5:15
02. Durin  8:29
03. In A City Lost & Dead (First Take)  4:15
04. In A City Lost & Dead (Second Take)  4:16
05. Bilbo Beutlin  7:46
06. Into Battle  6:00
07. Nimrodel  7:00
08. Raising The Flag (First Take)  7:08
09. Raising The Flag (Second Take)  5:41
10. Raising The Flag (Third Take)  6:32

Disc 2
01. Untitled (First Take)  6:46
02. Untitled (Second Take)  7:10
03. Wo Berge Hoch & Waelder Stehn  6:11
04. Ende  3:02

It's a pretty bold undertaking so far into a career to release vintage demo recordings from the earliest days of your project.  Imagine, if you will, if the earliest demos of a band such as Rush were to appear on the market place, and not via some unofficially released source but direct from the band themselves.  It would hardly be a reflection of the ability of the artist in the modern day and age (mind you, for some bands I can think of you might actually not notice so much...) and could merely confuse the listening public, more used to the professionalism and high standards of the modern music.

Of course, the fact that in this hypothetical scenario the band in question would have tens of thousands of CD's out there in the market place were they to engage in such a risky undertaking is hardly applicable to the Uruk Hai example before us today, which is limited to a mere 22 copies and which - quite frankly - will only have been sought out by the band's biggest fans in the first place.  And which of us is going to cock-a-snoot at such recordings, rare and previously unheard as they are?

A song by song summary is probably not the way forward for this review - there are, after all, only so many ways I can describe the various different takes Hugin offers us for 'Raising The Flag' and 'In A City Lost & Dead' for example - so let's consider the release in the round and assess it more generally.  And what you'll discover pretty quickly - and I'd say by about 30 seconds in at the latest  you'll have twigged -  is that these are such early recordings that they don't sound like Uruk Hai one little bit.  Or at least, not the Uruk Hai that you've come to know and love over the last 8 to 10 years or so.

Oh no, these demos hark back to much earlier and primitive times, when the fledgling Uruk Hai demo had only just been spawned from Hrossharsgrani recordings, and all things musical were loud, pummelling, distorted and growly.  The listening experience is, to all intents and purposes, that of listening to an early Hrossharsgrani demo, in truth.  This may come as rather a shock to some but is an important part of the evolutionary trail of DNA that led to the transition from that band to the Uruk Hai we know and love today.

There are some unexpected little interludes - the occasional choir, and some female vocals on opening song 'Das Lied Von Lorien (Die Sprache Der Elben Ichseits Der See)' being prime examples - but your entry price here entitles you to be pummelled by percussion and bludgeoned beyond sanity by stampeding Viking hordes on a one-way ticket to an open bar.

I like it!

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