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Hugin preferred the demo track/first take version more than the final version, and if so why was the original recording superseded by an apparently lesser version?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!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A NIGHT IN THE FOREST - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: A Night In The Forest
Reason for update: A reissue for this classic album, on the Valgriind label (Russia) in 2016, cat ref VG59.  The release comes in full colour covers with brand new artwork, and is re-mastered from the original 2003 demo.
Edition: Unknown - not stated on release

Track Listing:
01. Enter Fangorn
02. The Spirit Of Wood
03. Elvenpath
04. A Light Into The Darkness

It was only a short while ago that a promotional CDr of this album was unearthed for your edification, which was though to have been the early version of the 2003 demo that was touted around labels until being picked up by the Spanish Drama Company for the official full release.

Here we are, a mere two months later in the world of Honour and Darkness but a full 14 years in the Uruk Hai canon, with a re-mastered and revamped pressing of this legendary Uruk Hai album.

It boasts new artwork - credited on the inner sleeve to Burgi Brandstetter - and with layout and logo by Hugin.  A little light online sleuthing determines that Ms Brandstetter is a graphic designer from Solar City, Linz, and thus practically on Hugin's doorstep.

Revisiting the music on this album has been a real treat, actually.  The opening song, 'Enter Fangorn', for example has almost an ecclesiastical feel about it, as if you were listening to music in church.  Perhaps it's symbolic of a great cathedral of trees in which the listener stands whilst the sounds of nature and ambient music flow freely.  Reminds me somewhat of an early John Foxx album, "The Garden", in feel.

One point that's a shame is that the available recording length of this CD prevents the inclusion of the track 'Fire', which was the bonus song on the AMF Productions cassette version of this demo and - to my recollection - is the only place that this particular track features.  It would have taken a 2-disc pressing to include it on this 2016 re-mastered version, which wouldn't have been beyond possibility but presumably would have added to the cost of production overall.  A bit of a shame, as that bonus track is left languishing in history now, as opposed to being a nice bonus element to entice new customers to this CD who may already own the original Drama Company pressing.

Speaking of the older version, the review below comes from a Russian website and was partially cited in Nazgul's original 2009 post about this album.  For the sake of completion, and to give you an alternate view of the music other than mine, here it is for the first time in full:

"A sunny day in the deepwood..." (92%)
_ImNachtUndNebel_ on September 10th, 2007

"The first time I heard Uruk Hai was on the split with Vinterriket and Nak’kiga, "Ira Deorum Obliviorum". I very much like Vinterriket, even in their most 'ambient' and monotone pieces, and as I listen to much other similar music I decided to try Uruk Hai's "A Night In The Forest".

Ambient music is a difficult kind of music, it can be listened only in particular moments, or can be played as a 'background'. There aren't other ways to enjoy it; you can't listen to an ambient album and expect to have fun or whistle along the melody or do headbanging as you can do with a power metal work or Motorhead. You must be in a special kind of mood, have the will to use your imagination intensively and for long periods, and nothing less than that. Or, you can put it on in the background and let it create an atmosphere for the room you are in, as an incense stick would.

Now this work may seem monotone and boring to anyone who isn't familiar with ambient music. Nevertheless, all the ambient music lovers will be satisfied. It's a great piece of music. But I must say that it doesn’t respect its title at all: except for a few moments, this music is very open-space and serene. It doesn’t speak about a 'Night' in the forest to me it seems rather a sunny day in the forest instead, with just a little bit of fog!

It's very funny that Uruk Hai puts the sound of rain between the tracks, because the notes are very sunny and shining. It is similar to Jon Mark's work "The Deepwood" for example, or it may remind you of the serenity of Brian Eno's "Discreet Music", or also something by Vinterriket (obviously, this album is not metal).

Long, open streams of chords and widely expanded notes upon a carpet of special effects similar to little bells ringing; that's all you can expect from this work from a 'technical' point of view. However, the atmosphere is really convincing and captivating; you'll find yourself in the middle of a misty, spiritual forest with the rays of the sun that penetrate slowly between the deepwood and the tall, secular trees. Infinity and loneliness. Very enjoyable, but only for experienced listeners of ambient music."

It's rather nice that some of the older releases from the early days of Uruk Hai are now available again via Valgriind.  You may recall their reissues of "Upon The Elysian Fields" and "Lothlorien" in 2009, plus the 2-disc pressing of Hrossharsgrani's "Ancient Battles" in the same year.  More recently came Uruk Hai's "Northern Lights" in 2011 and latterly "The Battle" in 2016.  Many of the original pressings of these releases are fairly hard to find now, so any chance for a fan to lay his or her hands on a copy of the albums has to be a positive thing.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Slaying of Uruk Hai - an update!


What's all this then, Nazgul?  It's the content of an email from a Metal Archives moderator in response to my post in 2016 about the deletion of Uruk Hai from that site.

Some months ago Nazgul received an unexpected email from one of the moderators on the Metal Archives site who was quoted in my original piece. I'll keep them anonymous for the time being, for no reason other than I've not discussed with them the prospect of identifying their ID in this post.

They were writing in response to my "The Slaying of Uruk Hai" post from last February, and let Nazgul just say here that he appreciates the time and effort for this individual to have formally replied.  The email alluded to the possibility of a 'more comprehensive response' being a possibility in the future, but despite a little to and fro by email between the pair of us this longer response hasn't materialized as at today's date.  One suspects pressures of time, work and life are doubtless the cause for that, rather than anything else.

However, seeing as the original post did generate a fair bit of interest and was one of the most read posts in the history of Honour and Darkness, printing the response here seems the fair and reasonable thing to do.  Should anything further come in on the story, Nazgul will keep you in the loop.

"Wow.

I was made aware of this post by an MA user and might write up a more comprehensive response later, but for now I would just like to point out that Alhadis did indeed save the information as repeatedly claimed on our forum. The "nuking" part only refers to the removal of the entry from MA, not the deletion of the information per se. It's simply used synonymously among the staff for "to delete", nothing more to it. Though I guess to outsiders the choice of word might seem pejorative in a sense that it really isn't. As for the LotR GIF, it was a joke. We're not robots.

Again, please do try to contact Alhadis, if you are looking for the information the entry contained (his email address can be found on his MA user profile). While his Tome of Noise project has been in the planning stages for a long time now and considering his real life commitments it will probably remain in such a state longer still, he does very much save all this stuff locally."

In addition to that, and in (quick) response to the "metalness" of Uruk-Hai... well, we did review all the material that gets described as black metal regularly. As I remember, though, no single release favoured the metal over the ambient. It wasn't a rushed decision by any means. Whatever hostile intention might be read into droneriot's or other's posts, we assess these things as objectively as we can (what I was trying to say in the posts quoted in your article, is that I have no personal investment in the band one way or another). 

There was no ulterior motive or vendetta or anything like that behind its removal. Neither should much be read into its long existence on the site, it was basically a chance inclusion that happened in an earlier period of the site when the addition of side-projects was far more lenient (we have been tightening this policy considerably lately) and simply endured for this long because no staffer ever really got around to re-assessing it thoroughly. That happens. "Site seniority" in that sense is irrelevant to us, the same rules apply to all bands.

It's also worth pointing out that we don't include bands based on cherry-picked songs across a discography (cf. Hugin's claim of "I easily could fill up 8 full albums with Metal songs", which is irrelevant as the fact remains that there is no single consistently metal release, as far as we could determine). In short, if we overlooked something, you are welcome to bring up any release(s) you think would qualify Uruk-Hai for re-evaluation in the appropriate thread on our forum. 

As long as you maintain a polite and reasonable tone (and use the search function beforehand to ensure that the specific release(s) haven't been brought up and addressed already), you won't have to fear being assaulted by a flock of rabid moderators. If the release(s) you're thinking of have already been considered, well, agree to disagree."

All of which is, I think you'd have to agree, an eminently fair and reasonable reply and one that leaves the door open for some appropriate and respectful 'pushing' should anyone out there still feel strongly enough about the subject to resubmit material for the moderators' consideration at the Metal Archives site...