Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Hugin interviewed in Obliveon 'zine

 
What's on offer today, Nazgul?  It's an interesting snapshot in time: an interview conducted with Hugin circa 2010 (this time with his Uruk-Hai hat on) about the "Black Blood, White Hand" release, and associated matters.
Who is the interview with?  German site Obliveon [sic], "the Metal and Gothic Magazine".
So it's not recent?  No, but it's all interesting stuff for the obsessive fan!  And it also came with a review of that album too, which is reproduced below for good measure.  Nazgul is good to you.

A double-whammy today, brought to you by the combined powers of Google Translate and good old fashioned elbow-grease.  It's both a review and interview conducted by German online magazine Obliveon around the time of the release of the epic "Black Blood, White Hand" release by Uruk Hai. 

Due to the lengthy review of that album by Nazgul at the time, there wasn't really any space for alternate reviews and critiques, and by the time this article and review had been published it had rather disappeared off the radar.  Let's amend that, therefore, and take a trip back in time 6 or so years, when Drachenfeuer was but a twinkle in Hugin's eye and new Hrefnesholt demos still stalked the earth.

Firstly, the brief album review: somewhat mangled in my translation, but you'll get the gist (or you can check out the original German language version should you prefer), but it received a received a favourable review and a commendable 7/10 score from reviewer 'MG'   

"Tolkien once wrote, ten years after the publication of the English original edition of The Lord of the Rings, that allegory would be confused too often with applicability. Thus the applicability of a possibly unfortunate choice of name in the case of Uruk Hai against the background of the many parallels at the time which the author has actually experienced leaves me with my own interpretation or, as Tolkien concludes, freely interpreted: the discretion of the beholder. Amon Amarth was already forgiven.
 
“Black Blood, White Hand”, quite unbound by the Middle-Earth universe, moves clearly, based on that epochal work in itself, but not to the last detail. The "chapters" have their own life; Galadriel's mirror comes from the Fantasy shop next door and does not show the future, and cover model Lucifera, splendid with her dark lustrous hair. Nothing for purists and Silmarillion lovers, then.
 
“Black Blood, White Hand” is, in a way, something like an alternative soundtrack to the literature, equally dark, mystical, full of acoustic references not only to the Lord of the Rings, but perhaps also unconsciously through the generous interpretation to what was once Tolkien's presumptive templates - The Norse mythology, Edda, etc. Hugin uses keyboard sounds and samples to create a cinematic portrait of a new epic about a this story, which many people believe more than know what it really is.
In the end, this record is the right sub-text for an interactive storyline and somehow a companion to the motif of the Ents: 'not so hastily'."
 
But it's the interview that's more illuminating, covering the background and vision that Hugin has for this album in detail, plus some interesting philosophising about the nature of Tolkien's work in the context of revisionist history.  The accompanying photographs were published with the original narrative.  Enjoy.

URUK HAI – ‘Between the Inner Sea and Belegaer’*  
* Tolkien mapped Middle-Earth as existing between the Inner Sea in the east and the great sea of Belegaer in the west.
 
What a comparison!  Compared to this rather geographical description of a well-known continent of fantasy literature, this next sentence may be of the greater relevance: Beethoven once said of Bach, "It was not Bach, but the sea, because of its infinite, inexhaustible wealth of tonal combinations and harmonies." Less known but no less powerful analogies are also to be found in Tolkien.  On the other hand, Tolkien’s literally almost inexhaustible wealth has certainly inspired countless artists of all kinds. 
 
One of them is Hugin – who in addition to many other fields of action is the mastermind of Uruk Hai – who has devoted body and soul to this substance, and especially within the Uruk Hai project - is always ‘on the road’ albeit in a somewhat different cinematic setting than the fictional mythology from the pen of the British Grand Master.  Whoever knows and appreciates this subject could listen and read in detail Hugin’s thoughts on occasion of the publication of "Galadriel's Mirror."  
 
 
Hi, how are you?  What are you currently doing?
At the moment, I'm working on the cover artwork for the Uruk Hai album "Into The Mines Of Moria", which is the first demo of 1999 to be released in a new form.  The material is now over 11 years old. I have also rearranged all tracks from the original master tape. Pr. Sergiy von Moloch has now sung the songs, and we have also co-edited a cover of the Summoning title "Over Old Hills" and in addition there is also a video clip as a bonus.  The CD is supposed to come out at the end of 2010 in a slim DVD case on the Bleichmond Tonschmiede / WAR Records & Alpendivision Sturmklang as an example of communal label publishing. 
 
I shot the pictures for the new artwork in the mountains of Carinthia, part of it at the Freikofel, where there are old military positions (Schützengräben, Minen, etc) from the First World War from the Austrian / Italian border. These reminded me of the mines of Moria, so it fits perfectly with the design of the cover.  Also the short video clip "In Durins Halls" comes partly from material that I filmed at Freikofel (1757m)! 
 
Next up, I will be doing the vocals a new Manwe song, which is part of the compilation CD/DVD "The First Ring Vol. II", including Uruk Hai and many more bands. Uruk-Hai and Manwe had to play the Uruk-Hai video clip on the DVD of Vol. II, but I'm not quite sure if we'll make it in time to finish it, since this time all the visual material comes from the US: Michele Britany will compile this for me from her recordings that she recently filmed in the Joshua Tree National Park.
 
What has happened since the release of the new album?  How is “Black Blood, White Hand” doing?
 
Yes, since the "Black Blood, White Hand" album (which was finished in July 2009 but was only released in April 2010) there has been quite a bit happening!  A split CD with Sieghetnar from Germany just came out of Nordsturm Productions, and the split LP "Iron Age" with Moloch was released as a beautiful green/white marbled vinyl with posters after a 2-year delay with Aphelion Productions.
 
The front cover artwork has been made available to us by leading Tolkien illustrator John Howe (www.john-howe.com), with whom I have worked for several years! Another Split CD with Funeral Fornication will be released by mid-September 2010 at Hypnotic Dirge Records, and Tryby Records from Poland released a wooden box with the following demo tapes on CDr: "Die Festung", "Balrog", "Morgoth", "A Dark Force Shies Golden"; “After The War” & “At The End Of The First Age”, each limited to 15 copies.
 
As far as I am aware “Black Blood White Hand " went down quite well with fans & critics, although some of the fans look back on purely ambient sounds such as Uruk Hai created around 2004/05. Somehow, in the last 2-3 years, more and more black metal sounds have been added to the ambient sounds of Uruk Hai, but this does not mean that Uruk Hai will be a pure Black Metal project. It can just as well make a quiet ambient album as well as a mix of both styles - I just do not want to set myself in one direction! 
 
We had a great release party at Sturmklang/Steinklang, the new Nebelkorona (Vinterriket Nebenprojekt) album came out at the same time, so we had Cz (the mastermind behind Vinterriket) and a whole bunch of nice people in the mountains of St. Koloman, the Sturmklang headquarters. It was a lot of fun together, and there was a huge amount of Zirbenschnaps to celebrate the two new albums! 
 
Sometimes I read reviews and wonder if the reviewer had ever heard the same "Black Blood White Hand" album as the one I recorded?! It sounds strange to me, but that's exactly the point, I think, as everyone hears music with their own ears and spins his own world of feelings and thoughts.  So it happens also from time to time that after a criticism of a song it brings it very much to my mind, and I gain a completely different perspective of it.

 
 
What was the idea behind the album?
 
The idea behind "Black Blood White Hand" is actually very simple. I have looked at some parts of the "Lord of the Rings" story through the mirror of Galadriel, so the album may not sound like a story that should exist, since there are different events in different places at different times, but they are all viewed from one place at a time.  Many things can only be perceived as something blurred by this mirror of water; some much clearer and more present. A certain free space is created which is offered to every listener, and which was also granted to me during the recording of the album. 
 
What does the title mean?
 
"Black Blood" stands for the black blood of the Uruk Hai & Orcs. "White Hand" is the sign of Sauruman under which the Uruk Hai and some Orcs marched against Mittelerde - we look again at this from a careful distance through the mirror Galadriel, but all too often this distance is also a danger!  First of all, this album was supposed to be a pure concept album on the subject of ‘Orcs’, but the music was simply too different and not really suitable for a concept album. During the recording so many other passages from Middle-Earth ghosted their way through my head I was just not really ready for this concept. I kept the title, however, since I had already announced this album some time before.
 
How did this relationship with Middle-Earth all start?
 
Tolkien's world has occupied me since my youth when I first read "The Silmarillion" and "The Lord of the Rings".  I'm also very interested in Nordic mythology, and I always find strong parallels to the world of JRR Tolkien - somehow both find their way into my music.  Uruk Hai's music is very much fantasy-oriented, because within this mother of all fantasy stories that Tolkien has created it is easy to do; not only because of the fact that several other groups in the black metal sector have done it, or because I like it myself, I think this theme just demands I play it and water my child Uruk-Hai from its source!
 
My personal reference to this topic is complemented by my musical reference Middle-Earth, where I do not come to Moria in ‘real’ life. In my music, I flee to these places in my imagination and thus make them into significant part of my reality.
 
Can you take us through the album?
 
‘Fresh Meat’, the introduction to the album - an orc-march, or a hymn to the "carnivores"
 
‘The Fate Of Man’ - as the title implies, a look in the mirror, in order to catch a short but fierce look into the future of the companions.
 
‘In Mordor Where The Shadows Are’ - Sauron will see you when you look briefly in the mirror!
 
‘Farewell We Call’ - a sad ode to the farewell
 
‘Under The White Hand's Flag’ - the Orcs and Uruk Hai are marching destructively through Middle-Earth under the banner of the White Hand
 
‘Black Blood’ - Orcs can also bleed!
 
‘Hidden Path’ - on secret paths through the land of the powerful enemy...
 
‘The Dark Lord’ - the dark ruler Sauron, shouts and shakes all of Middle-Earth - a breath of death extends to the Shire.
 
‘Does Not Glitter’ - whether the gold of the ring really shines.  My Sweetheart, My Sweetheart, My Sweetheart, My Sweetheart, My Sweetheart...
 
‘Tales From the Misty Mountains’ - Over the misty mountains far, to deep caves from ancient times, there we go, lured by profits of gold, silver and jewels.  Where once the realm of the dwarfs lay, where the sound of the hammering of the bells, and the wonders of the bells, slept soundly in the vault under the day (part of one of my favourite poems from The Silmarillion, which I have frequently read).

 

 
The band name also interests me – why did you choose it?
 
The Uruk Hai are a brutal, ugly and strong breed, begotten by Sauruman.  They are stronger and bigger than other Orcs and are not weakened by daylight. They also retain the upper hand over the Orcs.  In fact, a perfect name for a Black Metal project, as well as many other "dark" names from the Tolkien world.
 
The fact that I chose Uruk-Hai as the name for this project is actually a coincidence:  I worked on a new Hrossharsgrani demo in 1999, based on Tolkien's tales.  After I finished 5 songs (‘Uruk Hai’, ‘Nordhimmelstag’, ‘Moria’, ‘Kortirion’ and ‘Durins Halls’), I send it as a cassette, limited to 6 pieces, under the Hrossharsgrani name to a couple of good friends.  After the tape had been received and the songs had listened to a few times, they, like me, came to the conviction that this music sounded different to that far released so far by Hrossharsgrani.
 
One of these friends gave me the tip to start a side-project;  I did not hesitate and took the ‘Uruk Hai’ title as the project name.  I used the songs on this demo, recorded two more songs (‘Luthien’ & ‘The Unknown’), and the debut demo "In Durins Halls" was ready!  So this project came about in a somewhat bizarre way to reach - I think – a perfect name.
 
What are your musical inspirations?
 
Metal or ambient projects decorate their cover with just such pictures of mountains, dark mountain forests and the like.  But a walk through a moss-covered forest is inspiration for me!  Musically it was probably the Bathory album "Blood Fire Death" that caused me to start a project myself!  The cover artwork as well as the title song itself attracted me in the 80’s, and still does to this day.  Of course I did not stop at that time; there were a few other albums that inspired me and had a strong influence on my musical path, but I cannot remember another album that I heard with such a consistency and joy as "Blood Fire Death".  I think I also know every millimetre of the cover art, I looked at it so often while listening to the music - it really is pioneering!
 
Also I still find inspiration in:
 
LAIBACH - Opus Dei
 
GRAVELAND - Immortal Pride
 
VENOM - Welcome To Hell
 
SUMMONING - Dol Guldur
 
MORTIIS - The Stargate
 
NICK CAVE - The Good Son
 
And certainly more besides...!

 


 
I felt “Black Blood, White Hand” was extremely cinematic, and also very free in its interpretation.  How was the album made?  How did you write the songs?
 
The album has been created over a longer period of about one and a half years, which also makes the individual songs often sound very different!  With Uruk Hai, I am always thinking on the lines of a soundtrack, I always try to create something like a film without pictures. The pictures should form in your head - it is best to enjoy the music of Uruk Hai with your eyes closed. Try it - also I find it better with candle light for!
 
On "Black Blood White Hand", a couple of different guest musicians have participated for the first time, which certainly stands out from the previous Uruk Hai releases!  The structures, which could have sprung from a radio play, owe not only to the soundtrack-like music but also to the sound effects (natural sounds, battle scenes, samples, etc), all of which makes it easier for me to recreate the musical world of Tolkien.
 
Before I start recording a song, I have a certain scene, in this case Middle-Earth, in my head, while I float a lot of sounds and melodies in my mind, which somehow seem to fit precisely to this theme, and so it emerges. I also very quickly create a basic melody; then it becomes somewhat more complex: is this melody usable for the idea in my head?  Should I fit different sounds to it, or not? Then starts the actual writing of the song, always with Middle-Earth in the back of my mind. Tolkien always keeps his hand about me during the recordings!
 
I would be really interested in what JRR Tolkien would think of my interpretation of his Middle-Earth - would he listen to music from Summoning, Valar, Battlelore or even Uruk-Hai?
 
Where would you put the album, genre-wise?
 
Ambient Black Metal I would call it!  Where could this album stand? Perhaps beside Summoning although the music sounds very different, and possibly also beside Vinterriket because of the ambient passages. But somewhere in the metal area of the shop under the letter "U" would be good!  And the limited edition "Black blood, White Hand" wooden box with T-shirt and bonus CD belongs in a showcase!
 
It's noticeable that you have essentially renounced the hectic life!
 
The hustle and bustle I leave to other bands as it just does not fit with Uruk Hai, and if it does only in very small doses!  Such things don’t reconcile to the idea of listening with closed eyes, and would completely destroy the overall concept.  I love to have a very long song and build an immense arc of tension; an ‘epic’ is exactly what I want to produce with Uruk Hai, not in all songs, but in most of my work.
 
The reason for this disc is somewhere between sadness and hope. When I think about it, it is exactly what I find in almost every Uruk Hai release.  I also often use these sounds to show the beauty of Middle-Earth, but most of my music sounds very sad, I think.  It is precisely this kind of music that very much depends on one's mood when listening to it, so these sad sounds intensify the feeling of sadness in a bad mood, and in good spirits the music ripples more positively.
 
What personal things do you associate with Uruk-Hai?
 
The music in and of itself is already very personal, it is part of my soul; moods that would otherwise eat into me. I can scream out and they give me air so as to conquer the dreary everyday life somehow.  Uruk Hai is a kind of escape from this world into an endless universe of possibilities that I would never otherwise have, but it is also a curse that drives me somehow, even if I lie on the ground and do not want anymore.  Without my music I would be no more!
 
What does the future hold for Uruk-Hai?
 
A new one - let's call it "Zwischenalbum" - is already finished, it consists of only a single song, which has a length of 1:18:30 - a truly epic title.  Also "Cirith Ungol", which as the name suggests changes from ambient to heavy metal (though only the vocals of Pr. Sergiy of Moloch are reminiscent of black metal) a different but also typical Uruk-Hai album - it will appear again under the banner of Nordsturm Productions towards the end of 2010. It should also give a limited 1st edition in a neat box!
 
I've been approached a lot lately to make an album like "The Battle" or "A Night In The Forest", with those very quiet, sad ambient songs. I'm still thinking about how I would best to transfer these 6-7 year old albums to today's world of Uruk-Hai; there should be a clear reference to these older albums, but also very "modern" sound.  The best of both worlds, as it were.

 
 
Well, one thing I would be interested in knowing. Of course, it is not alien to you that in the Tolkien universe the events of its time can be purely and selectively interpreted - the Allies, the Third Reich ... the whole programme.  I myself consider Tolkien himself (as mentioned in a review at the time) to deny any reference to WW2, and whose basic idea was to create a mythical, if fictional, "British" mythology.  If you do not know this, there is a danger that Uruk-Hai will be personified accordingly?  You can already imagine where that leads - black uniforms, skulls, etc?  Have you ever been confronted with this half-knowledge?
 
Yes, the tormented topic, which has just been stirring up in the Black Metal / Neo Folk and Martial area as rarely before.  After "The Hobbit" was released in the later 30s Tolkien immediately afterwards began with the "Lord of the Rings" epic, which then went far beyond the Second World War up to 1954, so surely the at that time, into the work, went parts of Nordic or Germanic mythology.
 
So the Edda inspired Tolkien certainly, but since at this time the powerful Nazi war and propaganda machinery also took over this theme and symbolism (see Runes, for example), this is often misinterpreted into a totally the wrong light.  Tolkien, like CS Lewis, was part of the Christian discussion group "Inklings", who also criticized the works of present authors.  So a war-glorious work would hardly find any appeal to this Christian circle! CS Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" were, for example, very much based on biblical narratives, but also on Greek and Roman mythology, but I have never heard of or read about a reference to WW2 events there.
 
Groups from the Black Metal genre, using material from Tolkien's stories or just a few Tolkien-derived names, are subject to a sort of trend where there’s a hunt to seek out bands that are not 100% politically correct.  But what is now politically correct? Implicated in this are runes, which have been there for thousands of years, the sun wheel which has existed also for nearly 6000 years on almost all continents, Thor’s hammer, which seems to be lacking any reference to the Nazi period, and now Tolkien - what will be attacked next?
 
I'm sure there are enough childish NSBM bands that use a Tolkien name as a band name, often to compensate for their musical incompetence. But once we are honest, it was once that you needed the inverted cross, 666 and the Lord Lucifer to be able to appear evil’. So now these attributes do inflame like before, you have to start with ‘big guns’ like the Holocaust, Hakenkreuz (Swastika), the Final Solution and so on to be a really angry band - such nonsense.  But because a few bands have prevailed and are now seen as cult in the scene, every 13 year old must now record his own NS-Black Metal demo with his little sister’s Winnie the Pooh cassette recorder! Tolkien's works are the cornerstone of all fantasy stories today, there is almost no way around the fact.  I won’t let this other nonsense spoil them for me.
 
What else would you like to tell us, which we’ve not covered yet?
 
Uruk-Hai is underground and only meant for this - anyone who expects more should not take this path!  It is also the scene in which I have dedicated my lifeblood!  The word "True" is already more often as not untrue, but I like to use it orientate the position to the real underground scene.  In this scene I have all my comrades, my role models as well as fans; from this source I draw my strength and I feed this source!  In this movement there is still honour, and true camaraderie, support and sacrifice.  Thank you for your support and the opportunity to present Uruk-Hai here!

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