Tuesday, 28 March 2017

MELANCHOLIE EINES HERBSTES IN DREI AKTEN - update II

Band: Svarrogh
Title: Untitled CDr
Format: This is a standard CDr disc in black wallet containing the pair of songs that Svarrogh contributed to the three-way split release "Melancholie Eines Herbstes In Drei Akten"
Edition: Presumed to be the sole copy

Track Listing:
01. Samota
02. Slunce Moe, Kum Tebe E Moyata Molitva

In magazine reviews of albums, there used to be three types of song identified on the release.  Firstly, you had the hit single, the standout track (or tracks if the band had hit a run of form) that were sure fire chart-topping, MTV rotation worthy winners.  Next came the 'album track' - quality songs, often lengthy or not particularly commercial, but certainly of merit and helping to establish that band in its genre.  Thirdly, and finally, came the 'fillers' - songs written on the back of a cigarette packet at the eleventh hour to fill the gaping space left on the vinyl.

Taken in that context, today's post is very much filler, which Nazgul apologises for.  Endless excuses about increases in 'normal' workload in the day job etc. etc. are running a bit thin I grant you, but it's nonetheless true and frankly this month has been a bit of a write-off in terms of prepping anything for Honour and Darkness.

There's also the slightly alarming prospect that Nazgul's long waited for vacation is next week, which coincides with Mr Wieser's birthday: and we've not missed a birthday post on the blog since it started back in 2009!  Hmmm ... that might prove challenging?!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  This plain CDr disc is one of those one-off oddities that grace the Castle Nazgul collection, having been donated to the cause by Hugin in aeons long past.  It contains the 2 songs that complemented this three-way split with both Uruk Hai and Uruk Hai/Arkillery.

And that's pretty much it, really!

Svarrogh, for those of you with long memories, was a project of Dimo Dimov in 2001 and founded as a raw pagan black metal project dealing with Slavic heathendom, Bulgarian pagan traditions, ancient Bulgarian cult of Tangra as well as post-modern folklore symbolism and aesthetic transcendence. 'Svaróg' is an ancient Slavic deity of the cosmic and earthen fire and the godfather of the Slavic pantheon. It is a symbol of the eternal harmony in nature.

During the time Svarrogh developed more and more itself into the wide field of Bulgarian folklore music.The band's fourth album "Balkan Renaissance" in 2007 marked a radical change from harsh folk black metal into a neofolk/folk ambient oriented musical concept. The aspect of avant-garde music, as well as atmospheric and spiritual elements became the most important part of the compositions.

So there you have it: classic filler whilst Nazgul tries to remember which way is up, and have some quality time to invest in a more interesting future post...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

TWILIGHT


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Twilight
Format: There are two versions of this release: The first is a CD pressing, in A5 digibook version, jointly issued on the Russian Yarovit Productions (YP-002) and Barbatos Productions labels (BP-115) in December 2015.  The second version is a cassette tape with professional colour covers, on the Out Of Season label (America), cat ref oos5 and released in April 2016.  This tape also comes with a bonus 1" Uruk Hai badge/button.  The same track listing is on both versions, with side B of the tape release commencing with track 7 ('Elbenklang Part 2').
Edition: The CD version is limited to 200 numbered copies.  The tape is restricted to 100 hand-numbered copies.

Track Listing:
01. One With My Steel  8.38
02. Dorthonion  4.18
03. Smaug's Desolation  8.50
04. Eöl  2.42
05. Beneath The Mountains  3.14
06. A Blade That Once Was Broken  11.36
07. Elbenklang (Part 2)  12.50
08. The Golden Age Of Gondor  7.32
09. Over The Misty Mountains Cold  7.04

A nicely packaged release (in both formats) greets the intrepid fan in today's instalment of Honour and Darkness, as "Twilight" comes to town.  And not a teenage vampire or werewolf in sight, thank goodness.  Everyone knows that the only true twilight is defined according to the solar elevation angle θ s, which is the position of the geometric centre of the sun relative to the horizon.  But you knew that already, so let's not waste time on such musings and wade into the music.

One reasonable opening question is to ponder what this release actually is (or, more accurately, was. given it's already been a year and more since release date!).  Is it an album or a demo?  New songs, or old material, or even some kind of compendium of the two?

Who better to ask than the man himself, Hugin, who reveals:

"Twilight is a kind of compilation of unreleased songs - my good friend and huge Uruk-Hai fan Evgeny from Russia asked me some time ago if he can do a limited release of his fave band of mine so this CD came true.  All the cover pictures where taken at Lake Weikerlsee (close to my home) by Burgi Brandstetter, a close friend of mine too."

Once again the vast, seemingly inexhaustible supply of rare and unreleased songs from the vaults of W.A.R. have been tapped to produce another stellar release!

Credit too to Evgeny (and fellow label-hands) for having put the A5 CD package together so well, as it's a striking looking cover and stands out even amongst a collection of releases as opulent as those in Uruk Hai's discography.

It's an incredibly relaxing and ambient musical landscape presented by Hugin, with an instant one-way pass being issued to the highest peaks of the Misty Mountains and the lowest, fog-shrouded valleys of Middle-Earth.  Whilst there are touches of the Uruk Hai of yore - notably in the short battle-sample in lead-off track 'One With My Steel' - this is a journey into a mystical world accompanied by the very mellow contemporary Uruk Hai sound.  Not a strong contender to springboard the band back into the Metal Archives database then - not that this is an issue, you understand! - but more a lazy ride down the Brandywine river in scope and feel.

Speaking of locations in this fantastic realm, song two touches on 'Dorthonion', which was a highland region of the First Age, lying immediately to the north of Beleriand that extended north to Morgoth's stronghold of Thangorodrim. Within the stories it later became known as Taur-nu-Fuin ("Forest under Night"), or Mirkwood.  And in today's strange but true factoid, Treebeard the Ent used to take his winter vacations here...!

I do find this a most engrossing album, and one of those recordings that you can put on in the background or when on a long journey and then just wallow in the music.  To that extent, it's not even a particular issue what the individual titles are or how many tracks the release has, as it's more of a sonic tapestry than it is an simply an album of songs.  Particular moments leap out and grab you (not least the beginning of 'A Blade That Once Was Broken', which momentarily - and startlingly - sounds like a cover of Madness' 'Night Boat To Cairo'), whilst others wash over you and lull you into a world of magic and mystery.

And just when you think you've got the thing sussed, Hugin will throw in something a little more unexpected and left field, such as some distinctly neo-folk influenced guitar parts, or female choirs, just to make sure you're paying attention.  Great stuff!

In line with tradition, the early CD pressing has been followed by a much more limited tape release on the Out Of Season label.  No additional songs are included, but you do get a rather nice 1-inch badge/button to wear to show your allegiance.  

Certainly a release that you should look out for, and with both in fairly limited supply one feels that the currently available stocks will dwindle fairly quickly.  In other words, don't hang about getting your copy!

Oh - and before Nazgul signs off, let's quickly consider the strangely transient character of Eöl, referenced in the song of the same name.  Eöl, also known as the Dark Elf, was a Sinda and lord of the forest of Nan Elmoth in Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion', and one of the finest sword-smiths of the ages.  Yet in Tolkien's earlier writings, he is described as being of the Mole-kin of the Gnomes and an ugly miner to boot.  Quite the transformation!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

MEN OF STRAW - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Men of Straw
Format: A CDr disc in paper sleeve, released as a promotional item and housed in clear plastic wallet
Edition: Hand-numbered to 5 copies

Track Listing:
01. Men Of Straw  3.41

It seems scarcely feasible that is was back in July 2015 when Nazgul featured the "Men Of Straw" cassette tape box-set that Hugin had very kindly crafted for him.  Time does indeed pass quickly when you're having fun, as someone very wise once noted.  This box-set had actually been a gift in the year 2014, and it wasn't so far apart in time that the CDr promotional version that you see pictured above arrived in Castle Nazgul too.

In typically well meaning but disorganised fashion, your old Uncle Nazgul had always intended to do an update soon after the tape post went live to show this particular item but once again things moved on and the update was rather left behind in the unofficial scheduling of other posts.

Well, better late than never; here it is!

It's a very limited circulation of the same some, featuring affable northerner Trevor Sewell on guitar and vocals and our Austrian hero on, errr, well everything else including art layout and photography duties.  Only five copies of this are in circulation, with this being numbered in gold pen as #1/5 on the rear cover, so something of a rarity - which is what Castle Nazgul likes to specialize in!

Pretty much everything that needed to be said about this excellent song was communicated back in that July 2015 post, so we'll not repeat ourselves here.  What's worth noting, however, is that the track is also featured on the best-of Uruk Hai album "Elbenglanz" - recently featured in this Blog - and was also the bonus song on the recent reissue of classic album "The Battle" as well.  Clearly a song to be reckoned with, and no mistake.

And so we stride cautiously into March 2017 with a new post, even in the face of ever-more ridiculous work commitments and things eating into Nazgul's spare time.  Pah!  That the real world should get in the way of keeping this noble and august Blog up to date.  Disgraceful.  Though sadly a reality, dear readers.

And speaking of dear readers, thanks must be offered at this point to Huginophile James, who went mad recently with Nazgul's recent eBay auctions and bought himself a whole lot of rare goodies. Good on you, Sir, and more power to your collecting elbow.

With luck, a review of a new album next time you hear from Nazgul!  Until that point, keep well and keep the faith...