Friday, 21 October 2016


Title: Die Legende...
Format: A piece of artwork designed for an Uruk Hai cassette release circa 2004, but ultimately unused
Edition: never released 
Proposed Track Listing:
01. ...Von Elbenwald
02. Khazad-Dum
03. Ein Licht Geboren Ward
04. Nordhimmel
05. Die Berge
06. Die Ring 

#25 From the Vaults of W.A.R. 
Bizarrely this would appear to be the first entry in 2016 in the ongoing 'From the Vaults of W.A.R.' series, in which the obscure, previously unknown or lost to history outings from many of Hugin's projects are dusted off for their 5 minutes of fame in the fiery gleam of the Burning Eye.
It's for a proposed tape release called "Die Legende..." (and no, you don't need me to translate that title for you surely) that compiles recordings from the 2000/01 period, giving them (so it is advertised) an end mix circa 2004.  This explains the use of the old style Uruk Hai band logo - as seen, for example, on contemporary tapes of this period.

Personally I think the artwork on this cover is magnificent, perfect for an Uruk Hai release and impressively menacing as fantasy artwork of this type should be.  Rather a shame, then, that it has been consigned to the dustbin of history deep within the W.A.R. bunker ... until now, that is.  What a t-shirt that would have made...!
We know from the inlay that the intended recordings are early in the Hugin's musical history.  Some of these tracks, indeed, appear by the same name (but presumably in different form) elsewhere in the output of other projects: 'Khazad-Dum', for instance, being an early Hrossharsgrani track that appears on such demos as "In The Mystic Forest" and "Rehearsal CD1" from way back when.

If the track listing is familiar to you, then doubtless you are having deep subconscious twinges that are directing you to two specific releases where these songs did make their public appearance more formally:

(1) On the "Honour" demo, where they were incorporated into side two of this ever-wonderful release under the title of 'Die Legende..."; and

(2) On the subsequent reissue of the material, both on "Lost Songs Of Middle Earth" in 2008 and then on the lavish box-set "Legacy Of The Tyrant" of 2011/2012 (depending upon which pressing you have).

We have to presume that the creative forces that churn and wrestle within Hugin led to last minute changes in release schedules and composition of demo tapes, with 'Die Legende..." not therefore appearing as a tape release in its own right but being subsumed within the longer "Honour" release.  The music will out, latterly followed after a mere 12 years intermission by the originally artwork...!

Unheralded surprises still languish within the Vaults of W.A.R. biding their time until being thrust into the cold light of day, so keep your eyes peeled for further offerings in this vein in Honour and Darkness.  Though hopefully in a rather shorter period of time than has elapsed between more recent editions of the series. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Uruk Hai > DEFCON 1 logo

Title: It's not really a title: Let's call it the DEFCON 1 logo
So what is it, then? Well, a bit of fun, really, conjured from the hand of Hugin...

SPOILER ALERT: We are NOT at imminent threat of impending nuclear war...!
Here's something fun: an Uruk Hai themed DEFCON 1 logo!
You're immediately left wondering 'why', 'what', and - very possibly - 'when'?
The 'why' is straightforward enough: in Hugin's own words, it was just a joke to spread the DEFCON 1 message in the past as a means of promotion for the band.  This image appeared on Facebook a while ago, and no where else as far as Nazgul recalls.
The 'what' is a little more complicated, so bear with me: The defence readiness condition (DEFCON) is an alert state used by the United States Armed Forces. The DEFCON prescribes five graduated levels of readiness (or states of alert) for the U.S. military. It increases in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe) to match varying military situations.
The DEFCON level is controlled primarily by the U.S. President and the U.S. Secretary of Defence through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combatant Commanders, and each DEFCON level defines specific security, activation and response scenarios for the troops in question.
In general, there is no single DEFCON status for the world or country and it may be set to only include specific geographical areas.
Defence readiness conditions vary between many commands and have changed over time, and the United States Department of Defence uses exercise terms when referring to the DEFCONs. This is to preclude the possibility of confusing exercise commands with actual operational commands. On 12 January 1966, NORAD "proposed the adoption of the readiness conditions of the JCS system", and information about the levels was declassified in 2006:
DEFCON 1 - 'COCKED PISTOL': Nuclear war is imminent. Maximum readiness
DEFCON 2 - 'FAST PACE': Next step to nuclear war. Armed Forces ready to deploy and engage in less than 6 hours
DEFCON 3 - 'ROUND HOUSE': Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness. Air Force ready to mobilize in 15 minutes
DEFCON 4 - 'DOUBLE TAKE': Increased intelligence watch and strengthened security measures. Above normal readiness
DEFCON 5 - 'FADE OUT': Lowest state of readiness. Normal readiness
And so to the 'when'.  Be warned - should this logo appear on your computer screens as a sustained flashing image, then it's time to adopt to time honoured 'duck and cover' method of survival, and to kiss your ass goodbye... !

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


Title: Verschiedene Standpunkte zum Phäntomen des Vampyrismus
Format: This is a CDr demo disc in a white paper sleeve, with typed inner sheet giving the background and details of the songs herein.  This is presumed to be the working demo for an unreleased split album with Vow Dreams, circa 2005.
Edition: Unknown, but probably only this single copy

Track Listing:
01. Prolog  1.52
02. Down There  7.15
03. Countess Bathori  4.24
04. Der Fall Valdemar  6.06
05. Transsilvanischer Hunger  7.29

It's been commented on before by Nazgul that given sufficient time and industry many of the confusions and puzzles within the collection at Castle Nazgul could be unpicked and put to rest. This philosophy - not dissimilar to the one that suggests sufficient monkeys, typewriters and time would recreate the works of Shakespeare - has borne fruit once again in the discovery of this apparently innocuous CDr demo from Elisabetha, which was buried deep in a dusty drawer of random items.

It is, on the face of it, a collection of 5 interesting but random tracks from this erstwhile vampyric project.  A little diligence, however, identified that it was highly likely to have been the original demo disc for the proposed but ultimately scrapped split release between Elisabetha and Italian band Vow Dreams, as reported on this Blog almost 2 years ago to the very day.

That release, you may recall, was lost to history: Hugin tells us that the reason for the album not being pressed was simply down to the label (possibly Bloodmorfog Productions, he recalls) losing interest in releasing it.

Interestingly, however, this item comes with it's own insert page which amongst other details gives us a title for the demo: "Verschiedene Standpunkte zum Phäntomen des Vampyrismus", or 'Different views on the phenomenon of vampirism' to give it a loose English translation.

Whether this suggests the release may also have had an individual life of its own outside of the split digipak is an interesting, albeit moot, point of discussion.

The insert - in German of course - gives us some insight into the background of these five songs, which in the interests of enlightenment Nazgul has translated for you below on song by song basis:


"Veil of death

Along border death

The country of demonic fears

Now down where chaos reigns

Demons, devils, ghosts dark

What I feel, in this endless night"

Down There:

A classic, hi-tech intermezzi of the same Beherit song

Written for organ, piano, trumpet and violin

Countess Bathori:

A Medieval presentation of the same Venom song

Composed for organ, trumpet, flute and harmonium

The case of Valdemar (based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe)

“... When it seemed to come from the tongue, not from the lips of the sufferer during the exclamation, the necessary magnetic strokes suddenly broke, and in less his single minute, his whole body together crumbled, decayed completely under my hands. And on the bed, in the eyes of those present, was an almost liquid, cleared to disgusting rotting mass”

Transsilvanischer Hunger

German speaking rehearsal-recording of the same Darkthrone song

Suitably armed with both music and artwork, it would now be entirely possible for an actual release of this name to be unleashed unto the world by an aspiring label, should one be out there and so-minded to do so....

Musically some of this is very familiar to us - 'Down There' for example, which is as bat-shit crazy as Nazgul remembered it - whilst a couple of the songs are less common: the 'Prolog' track is dark and doomy in nature, and a really fitting introduction to this set of songs, whilst 'Der Fall Valdemar' is based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

In this story, the narrator presents the facts of the extraordinary case of his friend Ernest Valdemar, which have incited public discussion. He is interested in mesmerism, a pseudoscience involving bringing a patient into a hypnagogic state by the influence of magnetism, a process that later developed into hypnotism. He points out that, as far as he knows, no one has ever been mesmerized at the point of death, and he is curious to see what effects mesmerism would have on a dying person.

He considers experimenting on Valdemar, an author whom he had previously mesmerized, and who has recently been diagnosed with phthisis (tuberculosis).
Valdemar consents to the experiment and informs the narrator by letter that his doctors expect him to die by midnight of the following evening. Valdemar's two physicians inform the narrator of their patient's poor condition. After confirming again that Valdemar is willing to be part of the experiment, the narrator comes back the next night with two nurses and a medical student as witnesses.

Valdemar is quickly mesmerized, just as the two physicians return and serve as additional witnesses. In a trance, he reports first that he is dying — then that he is dead. The narrator leaves him in a mesmeric state for seven months, checking on him daily with the help of physicians and friends. During this time Valdemar is without pulse, heartbeat or perceptible breathing, his skin cold and pale.

Finally, the narrator makes attempts to awaken Valdemar, asking questions that are answered with difficulty as Valdemar's voice emanates from his throat and lolling tongue while his lips and jaws are frozen in death. In between trance and wakefulness, Valdemar begs the narrator to quickly put him back to sleep or to wake him. As Valdemar shouts "Dead! Dead!" repeatedly, the narrator starts to bring him out of his trance, only for his entire body to immediately decay into a "nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable putrescence."


This may well prove to be one of the very last - if not the last - entries on Honour and Darkness under the Elisabetha name, as the supply of unusual and rare items in the collection has been exhausted over the past years.  Now defunct, there's little prospect of anything new coming onto the market for this project, and only if another retrospective collection a la "Eternal Deathvastation" comes along are we likely to see something more by this most unusual of bands.

Elisabetha ... R.I.P.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

An interview with ... Hulduefni

What's on offer today then, Nazgul? A rarity nowadays - it's an interview!
With whom? Hulduefni
Bless you? No, I didn't sneeze, it's the name of the Portuguese band that recently had a split release with Uruk Hai released through WinterWolf Records
Aah I see! And it's a good read too, so enjoy!

We've seen a few Uruk Hai releases coming out of the WinterWolf stable in recent months, which is a nice thing indeed and one that promises much for stabilising the release schedule from one of Hugin's most popular bands. One such release came as a split album, featuring two songs from a band previously unknown to us on Honour and Darkness - Hulduefni - alongside three tracks from Uruk Hai.  This has, of course, already been reviewed and most favourably too. 

So it seems like a golden opportunity for Nazgul to adopt his 'old hack' persona and conduct an interview with Huldeufni founder João Simões about his band, collaborating with Hugin, and life in general. 

Welcome to Honour and Darkness, João! Where in the world are you based? 
Hello! and thanks for this interview! I'm based in the suburbs of Lisbon, in Portugal (but now I'm actually in Berlin studying, and I will be here for some months and then back to Portugal).

I read online that your band name comes from an Icelandic word?! 
Yes! After searching and looking, and thinking for long hours I found this name "Hulduefni", which means 'Dark Matter' in Icelandic. Dark Matter is tied to space, mystery and at the same time the word "black", all connected with my music. I chose Icelandic because I wanted a weird name, confusing and even difficult to pronounce, so to speak, but at the same time not too exaggerated. Even the Icelanders themselves consider their difficult language. And for all these reasons, it is perfect!

And how would you describe Hulduefni's sound? 
The sound is generally speaking a mix between dark ambient, drone and experimental, with a touch of psychedelic, but I also have recorded music that is close to black metal and to noise, so it's a mix of strange music genres and styles!

It's a potent mixture for sure! How did it come to evolve? 
It started in November 2011 when a friend of mine shared with me the soundtrack of the game "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines". I really liked the album, and I was extremely interested in the music. After further investigation into these musical styles - the darker, minimal and sometimes repetitive ones like Dark Ambient, Drone, etc. I decided to try writing an inspirational track based on several songs I had heard so far, using only an electric guitar and sometimes a bass.

Over time the tracks started to get more and more interesting, until I decided to start to pay more attention in the production of each of them. From December to early February 2012 I created and produced several songs until I decided it was time to put the best songs into a demo. After showing the songs to several people, most encouraged me to release it so I did, and in March the "Deep Darkness" demo, limited to 20 copies, was released (which also had the participation of two friends). The reception was very good, which made me immediately start thinking about the creation of new music....

You have an extensive discography: over 35 releases to date on Discogs - including solo releases and a number of splits with familiar bands in this area, such as Saturn Form Essence, I AM Esper, etc. Do you prefer collaborative work, or solo recording? 
I worked with some musicians in most of my albums. In "Deep Darkness", for example, I did 2 tracks that were recorded with some friends at my house, and in another example, like the split "Life (When Nightmares Become Reality)" I have 2 tracks that were played by both artists, and there are some more examples... When I have some friends over my house and we start jamming, sometimes those recordings end up in albums, some times don't. I just remembered another one, the track 'Depressive Spring' from the album "Journeys Of The Mind", the guitar was played by a friend of mine that lives across the street and the drums were played by me, and then the mixing and production is always made by me:, that is the only thing that I do not want anybody to do but myself, you know it's that "final" touch in completing the tracks.

For most split releases I just see who are the artists that are usually active in the dark ambient scene and the ones who care about music and love music like I do and contact them and try to work with them. And up until now almost all have been very open to splits and to work in collaboration and stuff. Great people, I have to tell you :)

Can you share with us the very first, and most recent, albums that you bought?! 
The first... hmm... probably Iron Maiden or Metallica, from Metallica I remember the "Black album" and from Iron Maiden "Death On The Road". The most recent?  Ha ha It was a compilation of Darkthrone demos, "Darkthrone ‎– Sempiternal Past (The Darkthrone Demos)". I love this band.

On your albums you have had song titles that deal with occultism, aliens and horror, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics? 
Well the occultism it comes from my love of black metal since way back, and horror topics too, like death metal bands and such. Before I knew what dark ambient was I was already an "metal head" so that's why! Regarding aliens well it's obvious, space and terror mixed, giving topics like the "end of the human race" of something like that that you normally see in the movies, like Alien or War of the Worlds, where aliens enslave and try to kill humans.

I like to do themed albums. So some albums can bring to your mind the image of space in a good (relaxing) way or an image of space in a bad way, again like the movie Alien or something. Or it can be very industrial like in the album "Synthetic Works", where you can only imagine a grey, industrial city. Very different themes and landscapes as you see between albums.

Are you also involved with any other musical projects? 
Yes, I'm involved in LostsoL my black metal band, that is running a bit slow now. I'm also running my own label (Dark Matter Records) and my new adventure is hip-hop and beats, with my crazy/funny artiste name Crazy John: John because of my name João, that is John in English. It's a totally different world the beats and hip-hop instrumentals, but it's also great to be able to work with new people from a totally different music background.

You sound like you've been influenced by a fairly eclectic set of bands over the years, then? 
The music styles that influence me are black metal and metal in general, a lot of the soundtracks to games and movies, and the list goes on and on. But if you want names, I can give you some including Burzum, Xasthur, Darkthone, Mayhem, etc. but also a band that I would like to give a special thank you for existing is Darkspace ! This one is just 'wow'... I don't have any words to describe this band, other than MASTERPIECE!

Regarding games, it is without doubt the soundtrack to "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines" and these days I listen to anything, I mean it! From black metal to classical to hip-hop, I listen to it all ha ha. (But right now I have been listening to a lot of old school punk! UK PUNK! Like Chaos UK for example).

For readers unfamiliar with Hulduefni's music, which of your albums would you recommend as a good starting point for an intrepid listener? 
Hmm good question.. I think that it varies from listener to listener... if you like something more (dark) ambient well... "Deep Darkness" is the way. For something more "spacey" you can go with the split with Saturn Form Essence "Outer Space", or my album "The Alignment". If you like something more experimental "Synthetic Works" is a good starting point.. But please notice that a lot of my old albums are/are almost sold out everywhere, so it will not be so easy to find those....

But that's why I also like to do compilations from time to time, so that the fans that miss my old albums can still have and enjoy a physical/ hard copy of a Hulduefni release with some old sounds on it ! :)

Are there any songs or albums out there that you think, 'damn, I wish I'd written that'?
Amazes me every time ....

On a global level, what feedback have you received by fans of experimental and dark ambient? 
This is a great and controversial question in my opinion. Well, one great artist that guided me through the scene and how "dark ambient works" that is the artist "Merankorii". He is also Portuguese, and told me that the dark ambient and experimental music takes time to settle down, people need time to listen carefully, to grow the love for the music as the artist grows itself, and it's very true.

In the beginning I thought that because I was releasing a lot of stuff and dedicating myself like 200% to this that I could like getting a music contract or something and that I could get into "big business" with it, but well ... with time I saw that it takes time, it's not like from night to day. And with time I think that my fan base is growing and that a lot of new people are discovering and liking my music, and that feels great! But yes, I still dream of one day do music for a major video game or a movie or something, that would be awesome!!

Which leads us nicely into the matter of where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future? 
Well, I really do not know, but like I just mentioned I would like to start making music for movies and games, and to be able to be "more" than just some tracks on some CD and to "bring to light", bigger stuff like, when working with image (movies or games for example) you can feel the music and see it also in the face of characters in games or actors in movies, you know what I'm saying, right?

Do you have time for any outside, non-musical interests? 
Ha, interesting question! Well right now because of college unfortunately I do not have much free time. When I do get some I try to relax a bit, go out with friends, sometimes do a music jam, and when I can, I like to go to the country side to relax away from the stress of the city and just to breathe some fresh air.

Regarding the split CD with Uruk Hai, I believe that it's your first collaboration with Hugin. Are you familiar with Uruk Hai or any other of his bands/projects, and if so do you have any favourite releases by him? 
Well I know Uruk Hai from the music industry a long time. And, well, for me he is BIG, one of the most active and probably with a lot of fans too! Sincerely I never thought that he was so chilled and open, in emailing him (like I did with some other artists - that ignored me!) I never thought that he would answer back! I dont know.. I really do not know if the name "Hulduefni" is a big name in the dark ambient world or not... maybe it is and I do not have the sense of that?

But yes, I knew of him and emailed him and he was a very easy guy to talk to and said yes to the split and I think that the final result is great ! And it's great for me to work with an artist that in my view is way bigger than Hulduefni! And I have to thank him for this oportunity of course! :)

About his other projects I don't think so: I know the Uruk Hai project only, but I have to check out the rest, then!

How pleased were you with the final WinterWolf release of this album? Have sales been good, do you know?
Ha ha ha - you know .... these underground labels never talk much.  We tried a lot of labels and then WinterWolf was the one that accepted it ... finally! Hugin dealt with the label so I don't know if he knows about sales, but I know  nothing! I hope that is selling well and that the people are liking it, but the truth is that I personally just do not know.. :/

But yes the release by WinterWolf is great! Great quality! And they are also selling the item on eBay which is good marketing so, yes it's great!

What are your future plans for Hulduefni - are there releases being planned, or surprises around the corner? 
Yes, yes.. for the future I plan to release less material , because releasing a lot sometimes makes the fans miss out on some CD or something and I don't want that.  So what I want to do is release like 1 or 2 albums a year or less, but with that time work even more on the tracks.

I always do my best on my albums, but there is a time that you already done a lot of stuff and you can not repeat yourself and for me that time is now. To evolve and to make a more refined Hulduefni... music with EVEN MORE details and being more immersive, etc.

The thing here too is that the labels release less and less stuff now, so it's also hard for the artists who like to do CD or any other physical copies like myself. And a lot of people also prefer to listen on the internet than to buy a CD, although a true fan will always buy, so I do not worry.. ;) )

Would you like to take this advantage to send Hugin a message through this blog? 
Yes! Thanks a lot for this opportunity! And please keep up the good work with your music also! :D

And to end, do you have any final message for the readers of Honour and Darkness? 
If you are still reading ... you are a true fan! Thanks a lot!

Support the artists you like and please buy their stuff do not simply listen to it online...

Thanks a lot again!!! TO ALL!


So as the Icelandic black matter swirls and spirals back to its temporary base in deepest Berlin, we wish João nothing but success in his musical and other endeavours in the future, and look forward to seeing the next chapter open in this interesting story...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Title: The Ashes Of Battle
Format: A split CD release with ambient project Balrog (France), released in October 2015 on the Vibrio Cholerae Records label (Ukraine), cat ref VHR326.  The album comes with a picture disc, colour paper inlay all housed inside a plastic wallet.
Edition: 66 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
Uruk Hai
01. Eagles  11.07
02. Elbenklang  14.26
03. Spirit Of Fire  3.46
04. Wild Warriors  5.10
05. Eye Of Smaug  4.29
06. Grey Heavens (Summoning cover song)  1.51
07. Outgoing Of Flames  4.39

There are, at the very least, 5 very good reasons why this split CD should be sitting in your burgeoning collection of all things Hugin:

(1) The introduction to 'Eagles' - a shimmering piano piece amidst swirling winds, reminiscent of earlier Hrefnesholt ambient wind effects - is quite possibly the most beautiful thing ever recorded by Uruk Hai

(2) The pair of Uruk Hai songs provide more Middle-Earth bang-for-your-buck than many a full length album from lesser artistes, and offer plenty to enjoy over their lengthy durations

(3) Balrog - a new act to Nazgul - not only have the great sense to sound a little like legendary band Wongraven in places (particularly on 'Wild Warriors'), but also give us a cover song from equally legendary act Summoning too.

(4) The sampling of Smaug from "The  Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at track five is a stroke of genius, which should be repaid with untold wealth and good fortune for whoever had the bright idea to do it.

(5) It's a thing of beauty and wonder, from the artwork to the picture disc to the content.

Vibrio Cholerae Records are responsible for putting this little gem into the world, and thanks to the wonders of the Internet I can tell you that they are a small underground label, running since 2011, oriented on Lo-Fi, Noise, Drone, Ambient, and Experimental sounds: mostly in raw, harsh and ever primitive form of sound. Their releases come in various familiar forms: cd, cd-r, audio cassettes, vinyl, as well as in some non-standard including floppy diskettes, VHS cassettes, 2-inch reels, 8-track tape etc.

As far as Nazgul can tell, their parent label is Depressive Illusions, who will be familiar to most of us who have been buying ambient releases online over the years!

In a very small edition of 66 copies only, this has probably flown in billowing sheets of fire off the shelves of distributors and online shops worldwide.  However, Nazgul has learned that a cassette version may yet follow, so all is not lost if you failed to secure your copy first time around.

Great things should befall Balrog if the rest of their output is anything like this, and as we know great things have already befallen Uruk Hai for precisely the same reasons!

As Xavier Russell, Kerrang! journalist of yore, used to say: "Buy-Or-Die!"

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hugin > autographed photo

Item: Signed photo of Hugin
Format: Well, it's a photograph ... signed with a blue pen ...

Earlier this week one of the loudest storms I've ever heard raged above the rooftops of Castle Nazgul.  Proper eye-widening booms of thunder rent the air, lightening positively lit up the darkened rooms in vivid flashes, causing the Castle monkey to scurry for cover beneath the bed.  It sounded like the end of the world and would have been quite something to have been outside in, had Nazgul not spent the majority of its duration cowering beneath his sheets.

At the conclusion of this biblical outpouring came the usual sounds of a deluge - the dripping of water from rooftops, the splashing of vehicles through miniature lakes that had spawned on the roads, and the baleful sounds of next door's cat which had clearly been given the fright of its young life.

The ambient peace of dripping water lulled Nazgul back to sleep, reminding him as it did so of the introduction to Uruk Hai's wonderful 'Gondolin Falls'.  So many little things in daily life now have a resonance and connection with elements of Hugin's music it never ceases to amaze how often these sorts of connections can be made.

All of which is a rather long introduction to the star of this afternoon's post: a signed picture of the man himself!  Rather strangely I can't actually remember getting this, but recently found it tucked away safely within an envelope on one of the library shelves. 

An outrageously poor use of such a splendid item, which has since been framed and sits pride of place next to the Hobbit-grinder.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Title: The First Ring - Part 2
Format: A deluxe A5 digibook with full colour booklet insert (called an 'art book') and 2 discs secured inside the front cover, one an audio CD and one a DVD.  The set was released in 2014 by Notturno Productions. There is also a Blu-ray version of this release available.  The release brings together a host of bands crossing many styles of ambient, experimental and other rock/metal genres in Notturno's second homage to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Edition: unknown

Track Listing:
Audio CD
01. AD DIOS  *  Moria (unreleased mix 2010)  
02. AINUR  *  Rivendel  
03. ARCANA CHRONICLE  *  Niphredil (unreleased extended version)  
04. ARTURO STALTERI  *  Legolas (unreleased track)  
05. ASNI THE HARPER  *  Dwarven Dub (unreleased dub mix 2010)
06. ATLANTEAN KOEX  *  Pilgrim
07. HERC  *  The Mewlips (exclusive 2011 recording)
08. GRAHAM PLOWMAN  *  The Hobbit Suite (exclusive track 2012)
09. GIL GALAD  *  Ungoliant Of Avathar (exclusive track)
10. MILAREVAN  *  Wanderer In The Shadowed Land (exclusive track 2013)
11. NOSTRA SWAMP  *  Narneneol (unreleased track 2009)
12. FORNEUS  *  The Oath Of Feanor (unreleased song 2009)
13. OPSEENE  *  The First Ring Symphony (unreleased song)
14. MANWE  *  Tears In A Burning Eye (unreleased song 2010)
15. LONGSHANKS  *  I Love The Road
16. FEARBRINGER  *  Deep Helm's Deep
17. FRAYRDAAM  *  Gil Galad (unreleased song 2010)    
18. EITHELIVRIN  *  Nimrodel (unreleased song 2010)
19. DRACHENFEUER  *  Dagor Bracollach (unreleased song 2010)
20. JIM KIRKWOOD  *  Saruman Of Many Colours (unreleased song 2010)
21. LINGALAD  *  Lunargento
22. NYMAN  *  Dead Marshes Remix (unreleased song 2012)
23. NUMENOR  *  The Legend Of Master Ring (Summoning cover song, 2010)
24. ROB SENDYS GRECO'S METAL TRIBUTE TO TOLKIEN  *  Death's Path (exclusive mix)
25. SARRY  *  I Bind Myself To You (unreleased song 2009)
26. STEFAN KENSENNE  *  Beren& Luthien (unreleased song 2010)
27. OUT OF ORION  *  The Elven Forest Of Lothlorien (alternative mix)
28. TROLLRATH  *  Through The Trollshaws
29. URUK HAI  *  Cirith Ungol (exclusive version 2010)
30. VALARIEN & ELOHYMN  *  Twilight Isles On Shadowy Seas
31. ZA FRUMI  *  The Cult Of Helzichor

There's one phrase that sums up this release to a tee: Criminally Overlooked.

Quite how such a lavish product - clearly a labour of love, with an awful lot of effort being put into it - has fallen into such obscurity is something that Nazgul's tiny mind struggles to contemplate.  The original 'The First Ring' CD was relatively well known, still available from a few of the usual online haunts, and was beautifully put together by Fabien (aka Notturno) back in 2009.  This sequel - cunningly titled 'The First Ring Part 2' - surpasses the debut effort by some margin, from the sumptuous artwork booklet to the sheer breadth and scale of the contributions made.  And it's a double-disc set, with music tracks on the audio disc and a host of visual treats on the media disc(s).

And yet ... can you find out much about it online?  'Nope', is the short answer.  It's completely bonkers and not a little mysterious that something this good could be so, well ... criminally overlooked.  Everything about this release screams quality, from the lovely A5 hard cover book format and efficient way the discs are retained, through to the lavishly illustrated art booklet with a page dedicated to every band on the release (in fact, Arcana Chronicle get two pages for the same song, so let's chalk that one down to an excess of enthusiasm over proof-reading, something Nazgul is all too familiar with...)

Nazgul had toyed with the idea of showing you each band's page, but to be honest the restraints of available time and the sheer number of photos that this would entail rather cut short that project.  Ditto the plan to add some pictures of the DVD/Blu-Ray screen too. Perhaps a future update to this release might cover off such things... . 

The release is of interest to us on Honour and Darkness primarily for the inclusion of no less that three projects Hugin is associated with - the ubiquitous Uruk Hai, the lesser spotted but nevertheless excellent Manwe, and then the joint project Drachenfeuer, which features Jim Kirkwood (who also appears in a solo capacity on this album).  Given the excellent array of bands featured here there's far more than just Hugin's projects to enjoy of course, with a rich seam of genres to delve into that range from self professed 'Psy Progressive Trance' to 'Electronic Pop', from 'Medieval Harp Instrumental' to 'Orchestral Cinematic' (with the emphasis on the 'Orc' part, presumably?), and from 'Neo Classical Folk Ambient' to 'Epic Black Metal'.

You pretty much get it all, with this one, and it makes for a varied and mesmerising experience if digested in one sitting.  I have to note, though, that the release isn't without issues.  If you have the Blu-Ray version then in theory all of the music is playable through your player.  However, on my copy not all of the folders are accessible (and typically one of those is the one with the Uruk-Hai and the Manwe songs in it), which ultimately mars the experience.  

The DVD disc doesn't have the capacity to have the music, so instead you have alternative artwork and other bits and bobs.  Both discs do contain the short film "Nenya" though, shot by Nottorno as a homage to Tolkien and is, rather surprisingly, rather good!  Both discs also allow you to browse a select few video clips that support some of these songs, and Nazgul is delighted to report that the Uruk Hai video for 'Cirith Ungol' is all present and correct.

A magnificent effort for sure; not without fault (some of the English languages pages could have usefully used some proof-reading and editing, as their translation from the French counterparts are a bit lacking in places) but something that at the end of the day deserves a massive amount of credit for the sheer hard work it must have taken to put it all together.  Which again begs the inevitable question of why ever did it disappear seemingly without trace....?

Touching on the pertinent musical entries, just for a second: the Uruk Hai track (in an edited 'exclusive version' here, from 2010) is constructed from a song well known to reader of this blog, not least for being the subject of one of the more complex posts on Honour and Darkness when reviewed back in 2013. The Manwe track is also familiar territory, having been released previously as a very limited tape release by Wulfrune Worxx, and it sounds as excellent as ever in repeated listening here.

Where we enter new waters is with the Drachenfeuer track "Dagor Bracollach", which as the liner notes tell us was an unreleased song from 2010 when the double album "The Realm Of Light" was being composed.  Amazingly, to my mind at least, this collaboration with Jim Kirkwood still hasn't seen the light of day as an official release, so we have the slightly bizarre fact here that the unreleased song sees commercial release before the album from which is was (presumably) discarded.  Dagor Bracollach, incidentally, was notable for Melkor (with his crown of Silmaril) leaving Angband to fight against Fingolfin, high king of the Noldor.

Also notable in "The First Ring - Part 2" collection is an appearance from our old friend Jim Kirkwood under his own name, with another previously unreleased 2010 song punningly entitled 'Saruman Of Many Colours'.

Though flawed in places in the post-production stage, this is truly an epic release and the sheer effort that has gone into putting this together makes Nazgul's nit-picking rather redundant to be honest.  If ever you get a chance to pick up a copy it would be well worth the investment of time and money, but given the scarcity of the thing that might be a pretty tough proposition at the end of the day.  And more's the pity for it.