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...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

ELBENJAHRE

 


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Elbenjahre
Format: Cassette tape release on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France), cat ref WW971, with stock tape but full colour cover (and a very special 'guest artist'...)
Edition: Hand-numbered to 33 copies

Track Listing:
Side A
01. Welcome To Isengard
02. The Door To The Paths Of The Dead
03. Northwards
04. The Orc
05. The Fall Of Gil-Galad
06. Minas Morgul (demo)
07. The Return Of The Shadow
Side B
08. Dreamscape
09. Rise & Fall
10. Follow The Wind
11. Holy Metal
12. The Sword Of Revenge
13. From The Ashes (first take demo)

You may wonder at the purpose of "Elbenjahre".  Well, let Nazgul inform you: it is, per the inlay, "a companion album to "Elbenglanz" - where Uruk Hai's legions of fans chose their favourite songs - this best-of collection features Hugin's own selection of personal highlights from the battle years 2004-2015!"

And thus each track above is hand-selected by the man himself in accordance with his own agenda and thoughts.

It immediately begged one question to Nazgul's tiny mind: why only the period from 2004?  After all, Uruk Hai has been around in one form or other since 1999 so there are five years of untapped material here, including some seminal demos such as "Darkness", "Honour", "Elbentanz" and others.  Most intriguing. 

And then another question jumped up: why are there two demo versions of songs here, rather than the final versions?  Does that imply Hugin preferred the demo track/first take version more than the final version, and if so why was the original recording superseded by an apparently lesser version?

Well the short answer to all of these questions is simply this: at the time that Hugin put this collection together these were the songs that appealed to him the most!  And if you were to ask him to do the same thing again now, you'd probably get a slightly different list!!

There is a CD version of this release coming soon on the English label Aphelion Productions, who have of course released Uruk Hai material in the past, so that's definitely one to look out for and of course Nazgul will update Honour and Darkness accordingly when the disc lands in the Castle library.

That might be the time to get into the whole concordance of which song comes from what demo/album, which is always something of an intricate process to manage and one that - to my shame - is beyond my available time this month.  Yes, Nazgul's real world existence is cutting into Honour and Darkness time once again, and may well do for a while this year as various changes take shape and cause me endless amounts of travelling and hard work.  B'ah!

For now, then, let's rejoice in just the existence of this very limited edition tape on the ever-loyal Wulfrune Worxx label.  An interesting fact gleaned from the inlay, by the way, is that there are two artists at work here, one of whom is Ruta Silders who did the front cover and the other is none other than Hugin's talented daughter, who did the inside cover.  Clearly a family business going on over there in Linz.

Will we get another new post before the end of this month, you ask?  Well, it's possible, but I wouldn't hold your breath... 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Uruk Hai > metal logo

Band: URUK HAI
Item: A large, metal Uruk Hai logo for display; old school style!
Edition: Only 5 made

It's been a terribly busy month in Castle Nazgul for all sorts of reasons that I won't bore you with here.  Suffice to say, as happens from time to time, the number of posts on Honour and Darkness has dropped since the start of the year as other commitments become pressing.

That said, your old Uncle Nazgul hasn't forgotten about you, sitting there with baited breath as I'm sure you are for the next exciting post in this seemingly never-ending (let's hope so!) saga.

So - it's a best of both worlds fix to the problem today: a brief post from my side, but something new for you to enjoy.

And it's a cracker - a genuine metal Uruk Hai logo, measuring around 7" by 10" (or circa 18cm by 25cm for you metric types), and milled from what looks like a piece of aluminium or similar light but tough alloy. 

It features one of the old school designs from this project, and (possibly) coincidentally one of Nazgul's favourite Uruk Hai logos.  This is the one that was being used circa 2003-05 on demos such as "Honour" and and which has periodically popped up since, including its use on the WinterWolf pendant featured not so long ago.

What a tremendous looking object this is though: it looks for the world like something a ninja might throw at you to cause maximum laceration and bloodless, so angular is the design.  Few things have ever inspired Nazgul to rush out and get a tattoo, but this is certainly one of them (though not, as you'll appreciate, to this scale!)

There are but a handful of these beauties floating around, all commissioned by Hugin and - in my case at least - forming a surprise gift over Christmas last.  And once again words fail at the kindness and generosity of the man.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Castle Nazgul's epic Spring sale!

Nazgul's horde: it could be yours....
One of the joys of collecting something is that you can keep on finding and buying items until the proverbial cows come home.  Clearly in the world of Hugin-related memorabilia or releases, some releases are more common than others to find, whilst others are practically impossible to track down because of their age, limitation, or a combination of both.

Once in a blue moon (the last time being March 2011) Castle Nazgul throws open its doors through the ever-so slightly seedy world of online auctions, to pass on duplicates or spare copies of these rare releases, which have been carefully selected to be amongst the most collectible of items that any fan of Hugin's work could hope to own!

Today's post gives you an overview of the auctions currently live on that old warhorse, eBay, in order for you - the handsome, intelligent reader of this Blog - to be able to lay your hands on some collectibles that, quite frankly, you may well not see again for many a year.

Some of the items up for grabs are genuinely rare: not in the content of eBay sellers usual over-use of the word (where 'rare' items are available in multiples of dozens, if not hundreds, at a time from as many sellers), but genuinely hard to find in a 'scratch-my-head-when-did-I-last-see-one-of those?' sort of way.

Money-wise, I grant you they're not exactly priced to give them away, but do bear in mind that I've had to find and purchase them myself over time and in most cases I'm not seeking to profit from them but simply recoup what I've spent, plus cover postage costs.  Think of it as a service to you, my most favoured of readers.

Incidentally, if you buy multiple items (of these release, or indeed any of the other wonderful things I'm selling currently on eBay!) then we can work out some form of postal discount for sure.

For convenience, there are 2 links given per item: the yellow link takes you to the auction page, the orange link takes you to the relevant Honour and Darkness review.

So, let's dive straight into the goodies on offer:


ELISABETHA - Renfield CDr

Whilst you might imagine the early tape demos are the hardest things to find from Elisabetha's glorious history it's not the case: they are relatively common to find.  This CDr on the Schwarzdorn label is an entirely different kettle of fish!

In nearly 15 years of collecting Alex's music I've only come across 2 copies of this demo, which includes the one I am selling here.  Only 100 were ever pressed, and it's never been reissued (nor I suspect is it likely to be) so I'd say this is the chance to own a copy of this if you are still looking for it....


ELISABETHA - Eternal Deathvastation 3CD

Something of a cracker, is this!  3CD's that bring together the highlights of a number of past Elisabetha demos whilst sprinkling a few unreleased songs amongst them.  26 tracks in total, culled from the "Nosferat", "Isten Szek", "Blutrausch" and "Renfield" demos, the problem with this limited to 50 release is that few copies ever emerge and when they do they are fearfully expensive.

Fear not, this one is priced to find an appreciative new owner...


URUK HAI - Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder 3" CDR special set

A veritable smorgasbord of goodness in this tiny but perfectly formed split CDr between Uruk Hai and Black Metal horde Moloch.  And in a equally tiny release edition of only 50 copies too.

Your noble purchase comes in a special 'ancient sackcloth' package with 4 mini inlay cards, 1 colour postcard featuring both bands, 4 photos of Ukrainian and Austrian forests and mushrooms, and actual parts from Ukrainian and Austrian forests!  That's got to be better than a 'download card'!


B-MACHINA - Burn Down Psychosis 3" mini-CDR

Arguably one of the hardest of the early Bonemachine CDr's to find, this is a little gem and was one of the earliest posts on a fledgling Honour and Darkness back in 2009!  With only 15 numbered copies made I think it's fair to say you will find it nigh on impossible to find another once this has sold.

Without lapsing into my 'old fart' persona, as a long-time collector of this stuff this is only the second copy I've ever seen of this release so - as long-time Kerrang! journalist Xavier Russell used to put it - BUY-OR-DIE!


BONEMACHINE vs. MYSTIFIED split CDr

Yet another hyper rare outing from back in the day, this 2007 release on W.A.R. Productions came in a handmade felt bag (closed with wire) with a hand-painted CDr inside a round metal tin, and included a triangular-shaped inlay with the edition number and track details. A red tag tells that only 19 copies of this particular release exist, so when will you ever find another...?

WACH - The Fear 

Much like buses (in the sense you never see any, then they all come along at once), here are no less than 3 of the 4 parts in the WACH release "The Fear", missing only the Blue seal version.

You'll read in Nazgul's original post that they each came in a slightly different limitation, with the same core tracks but a bonus track unique to each colour version.  Very, very scarce to find these now as the edition numbers were so tiny, and you may even recall the difficultly Nazgul had back in 2009 in trying to get a copy of the silver seal pressing - and that's when they were new and available.

So you can choose between (or purchase all of) the following:

Silver Seal (21 copies only)

Orange Seal (22 copies only)

Green Seal (23 copies only)


URUK HAI - Legacy Of The Tyrant t-shirt

There were only 10 of these rather snazzy t-shirts made exactly one decade ago, in 2007.  For reasons lost to history Nazgul ended up with 2 of them, and let's be honest you can only wear one at a time can't you.

Hence the exceedingly uncommon chance to own the other one - size XL - for yourself!  It's not been worn, incidentally, should you be pondering the noxious effect of Ringwraith armpit fumes on your health and wellbeing, though will be given a good launder as it's a bit dusty from storage.... 


B-MACHINA - Promotional "Vogelfrei" Ceramic Mug

As the link to the post reveals, 5 of these promotional items were made and Nazgul ended up with a pair, one via Hugin and one via The Eastern Front in Israel.  Neither have ever been unwrapped from new, so mint is the word you're looking for to describe the one being sold here!


PROMOTIONAL FLYERS, CARD, BITS & BOBS
Well here's a treat for you.  Over the years Nazgul has amassed quite a lot of flyers, promo cards, postcards and other ephemera based around Hugin's many and varied projects.  So here I've selected a good mix of different items from a cross-section of his bands for you.  Expect to find something you don't have!

Contents may have the odd crease or fold as they are paper mostly, which is prone to that sort of thing of course, but as you can see there are items from Uruk-Hai, Bonemachine, WACH, Ravenclaw, Hrossharsgrani, Ceremony of Innocence and  more besides!


Loosen your purse strings, have fun, and good luck should you choose to bid...

Monday, 30 January 2017

The WACH stamp

 
Band: WACH
Item: The very stamp that made the seal for "The Fear" and "The End Of Dreams"
Edition: In all probability just this one

Now here's something you don't see everyday!  It's an honest to goodness, 100% genuine item of historical interest to all fans of WACH and thus - in the grand scheme of things - a gold-plated entry in the Castle Nazgul collection of the weird and unusual!

What you are looking at is the very stamp that was used to make the wax seals for "The Fear" - which you will recall came in no less than 4 different colours, one for each edition: blue, green, orange and silver - and also for the limited edition debut "The End Of Dreams" release, which had a blood-red seal.

It's only 3 or so inches high, with a nicely wrought WACH logo at the flat end where you press down into the blob of wax.  In mirror image, of course, in order to produce the required image at the end of the process. A shapely wooden handle makes the piece nice and sturdy, and all in all it's that rare combination of being both utilitarian and eminently displayable!

The stamp has very kindly been donated to the Castle collection by none other than the shadowy and enigmatic figure of Reverend Kim, who you will recall is the other half of the WACH project along side Hugin's alter ego Herr Insomnia.  He is, as you will immediately have grasped from his act of great kindness, an all round 'good egg' to say the very least.

Such munificent behaviour was well known to Nazgul from aeons past, when I had inordinate amount of trouble trying to find a silver seal version of "The Fear" to buy.  Enter Reverend Kim to save the day, and spare Nazgul's blushes. 

It seemed appropriate to ask the good Reverend for his memories of those early days of making seals for WACH albums!

"Ha, the silver seal for WACH "The Fear", wow, you have a very good memory, I had almost forgotten that one.  I still can remember when my wife and I made all the seals, it took us quite a while until we got some experience and found a proper way to get them all made and look nice, and we had to make them on baking paper so that they were be removable and so that people from the label could glue them on the digipaks.

We took a spoon, that we heated up over a candle and we pressured the hard wax sticks onto the hot spoon so that the wax became liquid.  Then we poured then a little bit onto the backing paper and then put the stamp on it."

Simple as that! And as you can see from the accompanying photos, the final results do indeed look rather fine.

Speaking of "The Fear" - something of interest for all Hugin collectors in an upcoming post, stay tuned...!

Some of the end results of the stamping process

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

FIRST BATTLE (vocal demo CDr)

Band: MANWE
Title: Untitled CDr disc, being a vocal demo for "First Battle"
Format: A plain silver CDr disc with hand-written track details, housed in a generic paper sleeve.  This was not a commercial release, but a band demo circa 2004-2005
Edition: Presumed to be a single copy

Track Listing (vocals only):
01. Elfcrusher
02. Winterheart
03. Ode To The Hobbits
04. Orc Dawn

Something plucked from the drawer marked "miscellaneous" today, and a rare visit to the pages of Honour and Darkness for Manwe, side-project of Hugin, here in 'mark 1' version.

I say 'mark 1' as there are two distinct iterations of Manwe: the original band - featuring Hugin alongside Padre Adamo - which gave us the "First Battle" release back in 2005, and then a second iteration with Rich Davenport alongside our Austrian hero that led to the 'Tears In A Burning Eye' track and other material post 2014

Now that you're back up to speed with the history, the CDr featured today falls firmly into the first version of the project!  It's a simple thing, being the vocal tracks for the 4 songs on "First Battle" being sung/voiced/spoken by Padre Adamo for subsequent mixing with the instrumental bits.

It's a bit odd listening to vocals out of context to the music: we get quite used to the opposite scenario, where instrumental versions of songs often pop up as bonus tracks on CD singles, for example, but to listen to vocals on their own is relatively uncommon and relatively weird!  Given the more narrated style to these 4 tracks, however, it sort of becomes a listenable piece: a little like listening to Lemmy narrative the 'Orgasmatron' lyrics might resemble a performance of poetry.

Not that this CDr was intended to be consumed by the public in this manner, of course, and the lesson learned is that any early and/or partial band demo is always going to be a strange thing to digest out of context.

previous update to this post gave you the chance to read the lyrics for the songs in question, and with the inclusion of this demo disc it looks rather like we've done to death everything existing on the "First Battle" front, short of an out of the blue event occurring like a long-lost band t-shirt appearing, for example.  But I wouldn't hold your breath...

There's not much else to add, with the Manwe Facebook page being devoid of news to share with you.  One thing Nazgul spotted there, however, was a promotional image for the "First Ring Part 2" release that references Manwe in its text, so I've popped that below for reference!