[*] "Nosferat" tape
An ambitious release from the small German label Oskorei Bild & Tonkunst, whose total releases to date number just four including this set. That said, the quality of the item is beyond question in terms of the packaging and creative efforts, so no concerns on that front. It never ceases to amaze how many separate labels have become involved in releasing Hugin's various projects - there must literally be dozens over the years!
Despite only being pressed in a small quantity, this compilation does come up for sale occasionally and at the time of writing Nazgul notices that for a very reasonable outlay of 12€ you could point your browser towards Latvia (our old friends at Evil Distribution) and buy one today: check out this link for details - http://www.evildist.com/index.php?itm=cdr&afb=&id=1444
Jammed onto the 3 discs are tracks covering many of Elisabetha's finest moments, a collection of "rare demo, rehearsal and unreleased tracks" spanning the period 2001 through to 2004. Given the scarcity of some of those early cassettes and CDr - in particular, "Isten Szek" from 2001 and the "Renfield" CDr from 2002, both of which are really tough to track down - a compilation of tracks makes a lot of sense to the casual fan and the avid collector alike. The release of this collection also marks the end of the first era of Elisabetha, as the original unholy triumvirate (UB, Höllenfürst and Neon Ästhet) split in 2008, later to be resurrected by Hugin (aka Höllenfürst, for those keeping notes) as a neo-classical project.
Musically this is familiar territory - the sonic tapestries of vampyric black metal of the early demos have been documented on these pages in coverage of the items in question, and all sound memorable and disturbing in equal parts on this release. The added value for the collector comes, inevitably, on the third disc, where a number of previously unreleased songs make their recorded debut (although for the record - and to be pedantic about his own commentary! - Nazgul notes that the track 'Killer Kreatur' did previously appear on the 50 promo-only copies of the "Eine Dunkle Symbiose Von Blut & Nacht" CDr split with Nachtmahr, also covered elsewhere in this Blog).
This is where the one problem with the release really bites (if you'll excuse the pun) - for reasons most likely to do with space and the desire to cram as much music on each disc as possible, the remastering process has segued each track into its neighbour and therefore loses the individual song parameters from your track listing on each disc. In other words, the discs comprise just one long track apiece, and you can't therefore skip from song to song as you might expect. Given the fact that most of the songs on disc three are new, it thus becomes rather tricky to identify on all occasions where one ends and another begins, and to add to the frustration if you were of a mind to suddenly declare, "By Jove, I think I'd rather like to hear 'Der Funke Des Lebens Gar Langsam Verlischt' at this very minute" then there is no way of actually getting to it, short of playing the whole disc or guesstimating where the beginning is likely to be.
This is rather a shame, as it usually means that the only way to digest this particular release is in one long chunk and there's not always time for that in the frenetic hub of activity that is Castle Nazgul. At least the death-deck fitted to the carriage that Nazgul navigates down the rutted lane has the facility to re-start the CD from where it stops, meaning that you don't have to restart the disc each time you play it (unlike the Castle death-deck, which is of a more antiquated vintage...)
So where does that leave us then: a thumbs-up or not? Well, ultimately this is a very worthwhile release and if you can get past the track demarcation issue then there is much to enjoy both in terms of the new lease of life given to some old favourites and the opportunity to hear Elisabetha recordings in their classic style that never formally made it into the wide world before. For the meagre cost of 12€ a three-disc, 26-song compilation represents excellent value for money, so if the copy advertised at Evil Distribution is still not bought by the end of summer 2010 then Nazgul will shake his head in despair...!