Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The New Peplum

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI (indirectly)
Title: The New Peplum
Eh?  It’s the title of a book, published by pop culture scholar Nickolas Diak (he of Ceremony Of Innocence renown), whose title is explained below.
Format: Well, it’s a book, with pages.  Unless you buy the Kindle version, of course.  See below for details of where to grab one should your appetite for Peplum be whetted
Edition: Presumably unlimited

“Are you not entertained?”

Whilst these could be the words of Nazgul to the wider masses in response to his ongoing efforts on this Blog, they are more accurately the prophetic words of Gladiator's Maximus Decimus Meridius, signifying that a new era of sword and sandal films and television shows that began in the 1990s, had officially arrived.

The critical and commercial success of Ridley Scott's Gladiator, combined with small screen popularity of Xena: Warrior Princess, reignited interest in the genre, and soon the gates were opened for movies and shows such as 300, Spartacus, Rome, Troy and many more.  Peplum or "sword-and-sandal" films - an Italian genre of the late 1950s through the 1960s - featured ancient Greek, Roman and Biblical stories with gladiators, mythological monsters and legendary quests.  This contemporary wave of historic epics, known as neo-pepla, is distinctively different from the peplum films of decades past due to its embracement of new technologies and storytelling techniques, creating truly epic and immersive experiences that could not be realized before.

This collection of essays, edited by said Mr Diak, examines the neo-peplum phenomenon, taking a critical look at a variety of topics such as antiquity stories adapted from comic books as with Hercules staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, how sword and planet films such as Jupiter Ascending and John Carter expand genre boundaries, depictions of Romans and slaves in Spartacus, and how films such as The Eagle and Centurion are a metaphor for American soldiers during the Iraq War.

The reason for the inclusion of this book in Honour and Darkness comes with a fleeting reference on page 10 to Hugin’s very own Hrossharsgrani project, which you may read for yourself from the photograph below:

Look carefully for the Hrossharsgrani reference....
Having seen no more of the volume that this one page, Nazgul’s not in a position to pass any particular comment on the book in the round save to add this one review found online for it courtesy of the Goodreads website:

“I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.  I knew absolutely nothing about this subject, but it's now something that I'm interested to learn more about. A really fascinating critical look at sword and sandal films and tv series. I do wish that I'd actually seen more of these programs or films, as that would definitely be helpful for understanding some of these essays, but still comprehensible and interesting to read (plus anything with essays about Xena is always a win :) )”

You can check out Nick’s own site for links to where to obtain your copy if Peplum lights your wick, floats your boat or otherwise girds your loins:

The proud author strikes a pose

Thursday, 1 November 2018


Title: Shadowlore Compilation One [V/A]
Format: An online compilation released through the Shadow Dungeon Synth website on 31 October 2018.  This is an offshoot of the Hollow Myths label, through whose online shop one can purchase a t-shirt for this compilation listing the various bands on its reverse.  There is no physical release of this album at the current date.
Edition: Unlimited download (choose your own price)

Track Listing: 
01. Garadrak  *  Mist in Briars  04:55
02. Fåntratt  *  Nakna Träd I Brandgult Hav  04:16
03. Dwalin  *  Arcanes & Wisdom of the High Warlock Cosmic Order  06:08
04. Umbría  *  Descenso a la cámara de la estrella exhumada  06:27
05. Silencio Permanente  *  Medianoche, oscura medianoche  01:54
06. Charnel Oubliette  *  Funeral Creep  02:55
07. Thyne Lyght Illusory  *  Glittering Monolith Of Salvation  07:36
08. Vandalorum  *  The Path Revealed  03:43
09. Moonolith  *  The Dying Witch on the Lake  02:43
10. Rêvoeil  *  Dance of Doom  02:18
11. Hekate  *  The Last Spell  11:55
12. 1818  *  Hellscape  04:15
13. ELRIM  *  A Doleful Existence  02:24
14. Cryptdweller  *  Cavern Arpeggiator  03:52
15. Vampire Tower  *  Down to the Crypt  07:59
16. Dryads  *  Riddles, Wisdom and Stones  05:56
17. Gatekeeper  *  For They Never Left This Place  06:00
18. Machina Coeli  *  Approaching The Forgotten Lake  04:00
19. Sombre Arcane and Khand  *  The Forges of Sokol Keep  04:20
20. Psuchagōgoi  *  Floating Effigy  06:02
21. Withering Presence  *  A Violet Sitting  03:21
22. Pod Cast  *  Pursuit of the Fireflies  07:12
23. Plaguegazer  *  I Only Exist in the Dark  07:24
24. Tarczownik  *  Chivalric Brotherhood  02:58
25. Uruk-Hai  *  Moriquendi  15:00

Being partial to a bit of Dungeon Synth, this new compilation inevitably has caused a little ripple of excitement in Castle Nazgul, hence this post.  It’s the first post for a while as you will doubtless have noticed.  Once again various ongoing events in the ‘real world’ outside of Nazgul’s realm have interjected themselves and led to a reduction in the volume of recent posts.

Apologies aside from my part, this is proposed as the first in a series of releases under the Shadowlore banner (hurrah!) with all artists contributing to the project (as opposed to some online sites who harvest material for free, reproduce it without permission, and reap the rewards).  In the words of the Shadowlore page, they “respecting the past, honouring tradition and carrying the torch”.

Uruk Hai has contributed a track to this compilation, entitled ‘Moriquendi’.  This may ring distant bells in the dark recesses of your mind, and if so it’s because it is a previously released song that appeared in Honour and Darkness back in June 2015 and featured as both a tape and 3” CD release.  You can remind yourselves of Nazgul’s original thoughts here, including a bizarre reference to Gandalf’s toilet door…

Nazgul is still working his way through the remainder of the songs here, though there is clearly much to be enjoyed and many new bands to be discovered which is, ultimately, the benefit of a release such as this.  At some point, the advertised t-shirt will be gathered into the fold of the Castle collection, so we may as well review that when that happy day comes rather than now.

Will this be the first and only post of November?  Or will there be more from Nazgul before the month is out?  Well, let’s hope it’s the former: I’ve got some rather nice photos of the recent convention tour that Hugin has been engaged on, and it would be quite appropriate to pop those up at some point for you when time allows, so let me commit to doing that at least in the weeks ahead….