Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Today is ... Black Jade day!

Band: Black Jade
And why are they featured here, Nazgul?  Well, this band have appeared on split releases with Uruk Hai in the past, and as a result Nazgul has built up a collection of their work, featured below, shortly to be offered for sale...

Yes, today – the 18th April 2018 – is officially designated Black Jade day at Castle Nazgul!

As you will know Nazgul collects a variety of bands and musical projects, and once in a blue moon decides to feature one in Honour and Darkness, normally because of a connection with one of Hugin’s bands.  This is why Black Jade are featured, having been part of the 2013 split release “The Sadness of Fallen Leaves” with Uruk Hai and also on the 2014 “Guardians of the Rings” 4-way split along with Onyx and Ringbearer.   

Black Jade are from Switzerland, and play Tolkien influenced black metal though through the band’s recording career this has mellowed occasionally into more ambient territories with female vocals and lighter melodies.  Their discography has also been a fun one to collect, being comprised of many highly limited edition releases in low number editions in much the same vein as Mr Wieser’s manifold releases have been issued over the years, albeit in a much reduced quantity of actual titles.

Strangely, at least in my experience, it is the more recent releases that tend to be harder to find than the earlier ones.  Why the edition numbers were much smaller as time went on it open to speculation, though it made for an interesting band to collect.

I’ve greatly enjoyed these releases, but the time has come to set them loose upon the world (or, more accurately, upon Discogs).  Before then, however, let’s have a quick run through of the collection, before it gets split asunder:

Holocaust 666 (Limited 500 copies, 2001)
Very hard to find original band release, which is frequently called a demo rather than an official release.  The release is not without charm, though has moments of strangeness in audio terms.  As the band themselves later explained, “The whole thing sounds pretty bumpy today.  We had several difficulties at the time.  For one thing, we did not play well together musically.  For another, we did not have a real drummer.  Playing in time, for example, was not one of our strengths.  The technology in the studio also cost us some nerves back then and funny beeps, which were caused by the PC system, have repeatedly disturbed the recordings.  But they are funny memories that you will not forget…!”

This is a stock image rather than Nazgul's own copy, as the one I bought a month to complete this collection is still missing in action somewhere in the air between Russia and Castle Nazgul as I type.  Hey ho, the perils of collecting.  Onwards...

Forest Of Edoras (Limited 666 copies, 2003)
8 song second release, and musically a significant improvement to their first.

...Of Forest and Fire (1st pressing 666 copies, digipak reissue with bonus songs 1000 copies, 2005)
“... Of Forest and Fire ...” was the first CD after the original band split up.  In terms of content, it is the first 100% Tolkien-inspired album. 

There were two versions of the CD.  The original pressing was released via Ewiges Eis Records, and a limited edition digipak version on Black Tower Productions, with bonus tracks.  Thanks to the participation of high-calibre guest musicians, the CD came alive and although the whole disc is not high-end in terms of production technology, there is a great deal of passion in this publication.  There are a lot of good songs with great lyrics on this CD.

Helvetica Diabolica (Limited 666 copies, 2007)
Random trivia alert!  “Helvetica Diabolica” was originally planned as a 7” picture disc ep, but it was just a couple of songs too much for that format so an entire CD was spawned.  Additional trivia fact; it was the first CD where everything was played by Naragarth.  More of a down-to-earth black metal disc, this CD has produced a few classics that have achieved Black Jade cult status.

The very limited edition wax-sealed special edition verson

...Und Alle Pfade sind Versunken Tief Im Schatten (Limited to 100 copies in special version, 2011)
At the end of 2011 Black Jade released “... And all paths are lost deep in the shadows”, the successor to “... Of Forest and Fire ...”.  It is divided into two parts, a first quiet part that is sung entirely by Betty and a second part characterized by black and pagan metal.  For the first time Münggu (Excelsis, Minhyriath, Folkearth, Folkodia) was present with the bagpipe and on the flute.  Newcomers included Marlon Ruch from Eternal Death, who sang all Death Metal vocals, and Andreas Langer, who played a few guitar solos.  Cracking production, it's full of great songs like “Feanor's Curse Part I”, which is actually a cover version of a Lake of Tears song.

The much coveted limited edition came with a wax sealed paper envelope with number on the reverse, a patch, and a map of Middle Earth and the Undying Lands.

The Sadness Of Fallen Leaves (Limited 500 copies, 2013)
Nazgul has previously reviewed this album in Honour and Darkness of course, so let’s hear what Black Jade themselves said about this release:

“The split CD “The Sadness Of Fallen Leaves” with Uruk Hai was a project that has been planned for many years.  In 2012, however, Alexander and I decided to finally put the plans into action.  On this split CD you will find a bunch of stylistic mix.  With “Arien” and “A Homeless Shadow” there are two real black metal numbers.  “We Booze In Golden Halls” is also a tough one, even though there is no comparable Black Jade song yet, because it is a true “Mitgröhl song”.  With “Valinor's Light”, “Where The Leaves Not Fall” and “Where Eagles Fly”, there are three wonderful, quiet songs sung by Betty.

The Prophecy Of The North (Limited to 50 copies in DVD-sized case, 2013)
“The Prophecy of the North” was the band’s own album of 2013. The album begins where “... and all the paths have sunk deep in the shadows” and “... of forest and fire ...” stopped and generally only harder songs can be found on this album - Black and Pagan Metal fans get their money's worth here! 

The last 3 tracks are bonus songs from the Uruk Hai split release.

Auf Vergessenen Pfaden (Limited 500 copies, 2014)
Essentially, as far as I can make out, these songs were the physical release for tracks on the otherwise online only download “Warden of Tol Sirion”.  Notable too for being another split release outing, this time with Tolkien-influenced Germanic metal horde Carn Dûm.

Guardians Of The Rings (Limited to 99 copies in DVD-sized case, 2014)
A real treat for fans of this style of music, this four-way split features bands familiar to all long-time Honour and Darkness followers – Ringbearer, Onyx, Uruk Hai and of course Black Jade.  In terms of the latter bands input, there were three new and one old (newly recorded) song.  The three new songs are very melodic and catchy, with many epic passages and plenty of piano, and there is a good amount of electro in “Awake”.  “Ar-Pharazôn” was re-recorded from the 2005 original version with the biggest change being the German text.

The Downfall Session (Limited edition of 50 in DVD-sized box, plus a standard edition, 2015)
The band advise that this is a CD that you should not take too seriously, because the songs are ‘relatively evil’ for Black Jade!  The songs were originally intended for a split release with Numenor, which never came out.  The song “Ar-Pharazôn”, which is on the "Guardians of the Rings” was originally intended for this CD as well.  As the band are keen to stress, “Please remember, “The Downfall Session” is just a little musical outing, we will not keep this style!”

The limited edition version contains as a bonus the songs of the “Warden of Tol Sirion” but this time remixed and mastered professionally by Dösi in BWS Studio.

Ea (Limited to 30 copies, 2016)
This is where the Black Jade story currently comes to an end.  This album continues where “Warden of Tol Sirion” left off, and thematically we are again deeply immersed in the stories of Middle-Earth. 

And there you have it.

Something of a diversion from the normal entries in the blog, but Nazgul hopes that you like it.  Drop me a line if any of the releases above appeal to you, as they will shortly all be offered for sale online in a bit of a spring clear-out at Castle Nazgul.  Indeed, one or two other posts of this nature may pop up in the months ahead as other linked collections are thinned out a bit to make more room for the Castle’s monkey to swing from room to room.  Stay tuned!

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