Thursday, 10 May 2018

OF BATTLE, RAVENS AND FIRE - the original demo!

Title: …Of Battles, Ravens and Fire
Format: This is a self-released tape from circa 1999 from W.A.R. Productions, no catalogue reference, band cut paper inlay and stock C60 style tape.
Edition: Only this 1 copy

Track Listing:
01.  A Legend...   
02.  Preparing For Battle   
03.  The Prayer   
04.  March Of The Einherjer   
05.  Ragnarok   
06.  The Ravenfight   
07.  Gjallarhorn

Well here is something of a scoop!

You know, back in the days when I first starting collecting Hugin’s stuff you could almost fall over releases like this with merely a casual trawl of the internet.  There seemed to be no end of distros, trade lists and online auctions out there who had demos, rare releases, signed things and random memorabilia for sale and – as a result – the collection grew quickly and all manner of strange one-offs and oddities were acquired.  Happy days indeed…

As the years have gone by the occasional item still popped up that Nazgul was pleased to find: things like the “Urd” demo from Hrossharsgrani, or peculiar non-official things like “Face The Science” that you may remember surfaced out of the blue a few years ago.  But in recent times it’s been hard – if not impossible – to source such rarities independently.  Alex, of course, has always been a star and has made more than a few things available to the Castle collection over time, so there’s been much of interest to share with you all too.

In 2018 those fertile collecting days seem long since departed, so unusual is it now to find such pieces.  Rarities shared recently on Honour and Darkness tend to have been in the collection for some time, having being stored for many moons and rationed out in posts when Nazgul judged the time was right.

So “Hallelujah!”, Nazgul cried, when his own efforts located this very rare cassette online!  And through the most innocent of means, it must be said.  A seller online was advertising quite a rare early Hrossharsgrani demo tape for sale, nothing new for the collection but the sort of thing that only turns up once every 5 or so years thus worth picking up a spare copy of.  And like you do, Nazgul asked the seller if he had any other items from Hugin’s bands to sell.

‘Only a few other standard tapes,’ he replied, ‘but I can send you a photo if you like’.  And there, nestling amongst some fairly standard Uruk Hai tape releases, was this unfamiliar looking item.  Better photos were requested and sent, Nazgul got all excited and raided the Castle coffers, and the item was secured and send across with the original purchase from Germany.

So what in blue blazes is it, you cry?! 

Well, essentially it is the very first demo version Hugin made of what became the CD EP “Of Battles, Ravens and Fire” released on CCP Records in 2000.  Before any of the official releases, this was the original recording sent off to secure a deal.

Hugin was – to put it mildly – surprised when Nazgul shared his find with him, as he had completely forgotten about the tape’s existence.  Putting his thinking cap firmly on, Hugin recalled, “I think it was before the CCP deal, I planned to do a split with Nachtfalke with this recording but then CCP wanted to release it as a CD EP...” and one thing led to another until ultimately said CD came into existence.

The interesting part of the story – how the tape went from CCP into the hands of the owner Nazgul bought it from – is currently unknown, but one of these days I might go back to him to ask.  The seller’s name means nothing to Hugin, so it’s likely that it was gifted or sold from the label to person(s) unknown over the years before by lucky chance falling within the gaze of the fiery eye atop Castle Nazgul.

One nice outcome of this story is that the photo of Hugin used on the tape inlay is not one that he had in his possession anymore, so Nazgul is now tasked with the happy job of putting together a decent scan of it to send back over to Austria for posterity.

Let’s hope 2018 brings more such surprises and collectibles to share!

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