Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Title: Blind Nation  [V/A]
Format: An online MP3 compilation on the Morphic Field Resonance label (Germany) released on 31st January 2009.  Compiling bands in the vein of dark ambient, power electronics and abstract sounds, this was a release to raise awareness/funds against child abuse.
Edition: unlimited

Track Listing:
01. E.I.D  *  Blind Nation   
02. 2Young2Die  *  Nightmare VS Awakening   
03. Aggressionslevel 4.0  *  Sexual Violation   
04. Flat Affect  *  As We Must Be (Revision)   
05. Embersreich  *  Dirty Bombs   
06. Narkotika_Rus  *  Raping Young Kids CPN   
07. Letzte Ausfahrt Leben  *  Die Spieluhr   
08. Tanaros  *  Lazarus Effekt   
09. Phalanx Feat. The White Rabbit  *  Es Ist An Der Zeit Aufzuwachen   
10. Xebox  *  Bolzebub / Krachbube   
11. Hrossharsgrani  *  None Of You   
12. Tourette  *  (Alp)Traumsequenz   
13. Mind Project  *  Millick Schatten   
14. Nervenlaehmung  *  Haunting Memories   
15. Storfaktor  *  Leben Oder Sterben   
16. Snoww Wwhite  *  Crows Fly   
17. Effets Secondaires  *  Iris   

Nazgul could have sworn that this digital online-only compendium had previously been covered in Honour and Darkness, but finding absolutely no trace of it whilst searching the records it would seem not.  Either that; or my eyesight is failing badly and you’ll have read all this before.

Anyway, let’s assume this is something exciting and new and press on regardless. 

Morphic Field Resonance [MFR] was a Netlabel working under a Creative Commons Licence. During the years the concept behind MFR turned more and more from a pure Netlabel to a Collective of Musicians, working together to get the music they make heard and spread to a wider audience. Their musical spectrum ranged from "classic" industrial stuff to more "modern" styles like IDM.

This is written in the past tense as MFR appear to be no more: their releases stopped around 2013 and the website in their name is now defunct.

“Blind Nation” was an early online compilation in their timeline, designed to raise awareness of issues around child abuse.  Very timely, given events in the British press at the moment ranging from recently convicted football coaches to the behaviour of Oxfam aid workers in Haiti.  Plus ca change, and all that…

From their titles, many of the tracks here appear to have been recorded specifically with this theme in mind (either that, or an awful lot of bands write songs about child abuse, so one assumes it must be the former or I’m getting worried).  The Hrossharsgrani contribution, however, looks instead to be a straight lift from the 2009 outing “Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est”, which as you may recall was something of a transitional album moving the Hross’ sound away from Viking Black Metal into more refined martial/neofolk-ish territories.

Also interesting about this release is the reappearance at track 9 of Phalanx Featuring The White Rabbit.  Long-time readers may remember that this was a band that did an online collaborative release “S.P.Q.R.” with Hrossharsgrani back in 2008, which was quite an oddity if Nazgul’s memory serves.  And looking at the Discogs page for Phalanx releases there’s a veritable treasure trove of oddities to be found, with titles far too risqué to be repeated in a family-friendly blog such as this.  Explore at your own peril…

As with most of these net releases, it’s entirely possible to download the whole thing to your computer, print off some decent quality covers from the images provided and burn yourself a physical copy if you really need such a thing in your collection.  Not that Nazgul did at the time, which is a shame as now the MFR website has gone it will probably mean a bit of hunting around those dubious Russian file-sharing sites is needed should such a plan come to fruition.

What it has prompted though, is for Nazgul to dig out his physical copy of the “S.P.Q.R.” release to give that another spin one evening, as it’s probably getting on for a decade now since that had any airtime in the Castle library.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Hexenreich sampler February 2015 [V/A]

Title: Free Sampler – February 2015 [V/A]
Format: Silver CDr in paper sleeve, released in February 2015 as a three-way collaboration between the labels Hexenreich Records (Estonia), Arhailised Helid (Estonia) and Black Devastation (Germany).  Featuring extreme metal bands from Estonia, Mexico, Austria, Nicaragua, Russia, Iran, Argentina, this was a promotional free giveaway disc from the labels concerned and thus not commercially retailed.
Edition: Unknown

Track Listing
01. Bestia  *  Tüdinud Tühjusest (Promo)   
02. Urt  *  Manala Vasar  
03. Ragnell  *  Ritual Of Blood   
04. Kabalah  *  Kabala   
05. Sõjaruun  *  Surmkülmast Mullast   
06. Urt  *  Luupaine   
07. Mass In Comatose  *  Control The Masses   
08. Bestia  *  Tasumise Päev   
09. Lucifuge Rofocale  *  Demonic Transfixion   
10. Vanad Varjud  *  Tumm Rongkäik (Cut)   
11. A Premonition  *  Despertando Al Amanecer   
12. Battle Royal  *  Land Of The Dead   
13. Sorg Innkallelse  *  Sundown, Fall Into Oblivion   
14. Urt  *  Me Kurjuse Seeme   
15. Grom  *  Reign Of Plague   
16. Uruk-Hai  *  Orc   

You have to give Hexenreich Records some credit – for years they soldiered on releasing free promotional CD’s like this one every few months, bringing together bands from their roster and occasionally – as in this case – those from other similar labels too.  Many, many of these promo releases don’t include any of Hugin’s bands hence they’ve not appeared on Honour and Darkness despite being out there, lurking in the shadows.  No, the last time we encountered such a beastie here was back in December with the Free Sampler from March 2009.  Skip forward almost exactly 6 years and here we find them at it again, with a track from Uruk Hai included at the tail end of the 16 on offer.

And the track in question is called ’Orc’, which I’m sure you recall was the self-titled song (in two parts originally) released by Hexenreich in tape format in 2012.  Don’t remember?  Check out the original review!

One assumes that the version of the song on this CD must be an edited one, as the original cassette version ran to nearly half an hour per side.  Nazgul has to presume, as this is another one of those items yet to actually find a home in the Castle collection (usual plea, therefore -  if you have a copy for sale let me know?) so the actual track running times is unknown.  I don’t even know if it’s an edit of ‘Orc (Part 1)’ or ‘Orc (Part 2)’ to be brutally honest, or some weird mash up of the two. Lack of ownership also accounts for the slightly wonky photos used for this piece, which generally manage to be of even worse quality than Nazgul’s own poor efforts.  Ah well, beggars can’t be choosers.

I dare say in the fullness of time a copy of this release will eventually float to the surface of those parts of the internet where strange music resides, so Nazgul will just have to keep his eyes open.  Until that time, consider this item catalogued for posterity at least.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

AUDIBLE WAR #2 - update

Band: BONEMACHINE (a split release with Gruuthaagy)
Title: Audible War #2
Reason for update: Through sheer chance an opportunity for an update on variants of this release presented itself to Nazgul, and even more improbably an independent online review was located.

Coincidence; chance; synchronicity.  All concepts that have occasionally found their way into Honour and Darkness when the stars aligned in a fortuitous way to produce a particularly timely post, or some review of especial relevance.  And so – sort of – it happened again at the beginning of this week:  Lady Nazgul and I were flicking through the channels looking for something intelligent and wholesome to watch on tv and determined that ‘Jeepers Creepers 3’ was just the sort of intellectual feast for the eyes and mind that was required.  Whilst that was on, Nazgul took a big stack of CD’s and tapes from his collection to mull over, all previously reviewed and much loved items.  Within the batch was the white covered copy of “Audible War #2” that you see here.

The next evening, we turned on the Castle telly and lo and behold ‘Jeepers Creepers 2’ had just started, on a different channel.  ‘Well’, we thought, ‘why not?’  And so Uncle Nazgul went back to the library and took another stack of bits and pieces to look at, this time from the pile of unreviewed material (yes, there is some still left despite Hugin’s recent quiet spell).  And within that grab-bag of goodies what should come to light but the blue-cover version of “Audible War #2”, also pictured. 

Now, Nazgul has had these two items kicking about in the library for quite literally years without them coming up on the radar as the likely subject for a Blog update.  But in checking the original Honour and Darkness post for "Audible War #2" an interesting fact came to light: that post, from 2010, has been written exactly six months to the day after the review of tape split release "Audible War #1".

And in a similar coincidence of timing, this chance re-acquaintance with two long forgotten items from different parts of the collection falls exactly 8 years to the day after “Audible War #2” debuted here.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and for those yet to be wowed by this sign from the heavens then I suggest that you pour yourself a stiff drink and just try to grin and bear it…

Anyway, on with the update.  We know from past interview with the mad, bad Keegan Irvine of SkullFuckingMetal that although officially only 23 numbered copies of this CDr were released into the world, there were a quantity of unnumbered copies without the number-sash also released.  At the time of the original review of “Audible War #2” this was rather politely described by Nazgul in the comment, “you'll appreciate that a number of unnumbered copies have been traded around the globe over the years to spread the good word about both of these projects”.

Realistically, however, a limited edition status was rendered fairly pointless by the printing up of lots of other unrestricted copies to be sold as demand required!  Yes, these later copies were slightly different in format (coming in a slim-line plastic case rather than a coloured wallet) but to all intents and purposes it’s the exact same release.  I have no idea whether the retail price for the two variants was the same as this was all in the distant past (well 2006 feels pretty distant to me now, in any event). 

Anyway, at some point between 2010 and now Nazgul obviously found and bought one of these 'generic' copies of the CDr to feature in the Blog, and then promptly misfiled it and forgot all about it.  So here it is, catalogued and accounted for.

So let’s jump to the blue copy, and the first thing to note is that it’s errr, well, a blue copy.  In fact, that’s pretty much all there is to note about it – it’s one of the original limited edition (being #5/23) as opposed to my red/pink sleeve copy being #17/23 – but otherwise it’s exactly the same other than having lost the rusty wire that held the numbered sash in place.  No, the interesting thing about this is that it hadn’t really ever occurred to me that Keegan would have used different coloured external wallets to put the CDr in!  So for all we know, there could be yellow, green and aquamarine colours out there. 

As usual, this sets Nazgul off on a mission of discovery!  It’s highly doubtful 23 different coloured wallets/sleeves were used, so one assumes there must be batches of at least two colours and possibly more out there.  With 23 in the edition being a rather odd number, one can deduce there won’t be an even split of different colours (and to be honest, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the edition number was driven entirely by how many coloured sleeves Keegan could lay his hands on that afternoon!)

So – do you have a copy of this release in your collection, and if so does it come in a coloured wallet with numbered sash?  Nazgul would love to know the details, and if you could send a photograph that would be great.  Let’s see if we can piece together how many varieties there are out there!  Usual contact address please for photos, details etc:

In the spirit of investigation I found that there were 4 copies of this release for sale on Discogs, so fired off a question to each seller to see what versions they had.  Of the 2 who have replied thus far, one had a generic slipcase version but the other had an interesting ‘hybrid’: an unnumbered generic copy but in a yellow coloured slipcase (not a wallet, but hard case).  Now that may not be the original case, of course, but if it is then clearly there’s going to be some multiple colour versions of the second edition doing the rounds as well.  I don’t know about ‘audible war’ but there could be some fairly discernible swearing in the Castle trying to keep a track of this lot!

Now for a bonus treat: as you’ll know it’s rare for reviews of Hugin’s material to pop up online or in magazines.  You could, therefore, have knocked me down with a metaphorical feather when I found an independent review of this pretty obscure split release online though, courtesy of fellow blogger Kent Manthie.  Sadly, no photo of the item accompanied the review to aid our new quest!

But here is that review in full to digest and enjoy at your leisure:

“This is an interesting disc.  Audible War #2 is a split CD by two similar bands that have transcended the speed/death metal genre as well as metal machine noise and have dove into experimental, esoteric “anti-music”.

I really dig the first track (the 1st 3 tracks are by Gruuthaagy and tracks 4-6 are by Bone Machine), which, because of the gothic script it’s written in on the back of the CD sleeve, makes it difficult to read, but it looks like it reads “Crne Zastave”, which looks like it could be a Slavic language of some sort – the kind where they use a lot of consonants and fewer vowels. 

Anyway, this tune that starts off the album is about 12 minutes long and is just a slowed down repetition of a series of progressive guitar chords, with no other instruments backing it.  Even though it may have a somewhat redundancy and go on and on, there’s something quite hypnotic about it – it’s not headbangingly monstrous, a la Cannibal Corpse, but more reserved, relaxed, although at the same time, there is an ominous vibe to it – one, if you’ve never heard it before, will keep you guessing whether it’s going to suddenly explode into a bloody screaming murder scene, but, they don’t do that, they just, or rather, the guitar player, just stands there, trance-like, crunching those chords.  The second tune is even longer – “Robija” is a 15 minute jam, with the whole band chiming in – drums, bass, guitar – to a slowed down, horror show of dark matter.

When I first put this CD in, to listen to it for reviewing, I expected a really experimental, rip-roaring, Gothic machine-noise CD, but, boy was I surprised, when, instead of typical death-speed-metal fashion, they played their nonetheless scary anthems in a slowed down pace; one you’d never hear on a Slayer album, et al.

While only containing 6 tracks, it showcases two independent, underground metal bands:  Gruuthaagy and Bone Machine.  The former is a “one man band” that came on the scene in 1992 and was influenced by “total noise” bands, 7 Minutes of Nausea as well as ATTA.  Unlike the 2 aforementioned bands, Gruuthaagy were not about making “noise for noise sake”, instead they’ve evolved from the “noise” metal of their heroes to “no-fi”, home-made “audio terrorism”.  Throughout their first 10 years Gruuthaagy spanned the distance from “total noise pollution” to what they’re doing nowadays, which is a unique, experimental and sometimes esoteric “anti-music”.   Over that time they’ve released numerous demos, singles, they also peppered several compilations with their music.

In their second decade Gruuthaagy really developed even more occult-inspired darkness, using much digital soundscapes and uncompromising sonic intensity.  Their ingenious craft does not fit neatly into any “box”:  they run the gamut from speeding, aggro, Teutonic gigantism to avant-garde ambient metallic drones which often touch upon both mysticism as well as sarcastic blasts at the huge amount of hypocrisy in the world (so much to throw stones at, etc.)

Bone Machine is another great band who has the same style as Gruuthaagy does on this release.  The three tracks they contributed were also atmospheric, layered ascetic dark grooves.  Their second and third tracks, “Babiy Jar” and “Dark Matter”, respectively, both featured sampled voices, some just distorted, hard to understand rambling and on “Dark Matter”, there were samples of George Bush I giving a talk on TV, back in 1991 talking about the just-commenced “war” on Iraq, due to Saddam’s disobedience by invading our friendly, oil-rich pals in Kuwait, which turned Saddam from a friend to whom the US gave lots of arms and money in order to crush the hated Iran in the long, drawn out Iran-Iraq war that, basically, lasted throughout the 80s – from about 81 until 89.

But when Saddam crossed that line (literally) by invading Kuwait, he became Persona Non Grata per the US Govt. and GHW Bush sent the troops to Iraq to kick this former ally, now PNG, Saddam & his ragtag army out of the emirate of Kuwait – no bastion of democracy, itself, but a big repository of oil.  Anyway, Bone Machine deftly utilizes samples of Bush I’s speech and played it over there droning, aggressive cool music.

Needless to say, Audible War #2 is the type of CD that is such a pleasant surprise to find – 1st of all, you aren’t going to find it at your local independent record store (I think just about all the corporate, chain record stores (Tower, Sam Goody, Wherehouse) have all gone out of business – unless you consider Best Buy, which besides selling just about every type of electronic item – from computers to washing machines, also has a surprisingly decent selection of music at their stores; in fact, I don’t even know if you can find it on Amazon, which is such a great marketplace – it’s amazing what you can find there and how cheap some of the prices are for certain CDs, so, even though I haven’t actually checked, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were up there.  But for now, you can go to to get this disc.”