Band: URUK HAI
Title: Courage Is Found In Unlikely Places
Format: A 10CD-r box-set from 2011, a joint release between Kadaath Records and Rigorism Productions (both Russian), cat ref Kadaath14. The box is DVD-sized and comes with full colour artwork and screen-printed discs. The release compiles Uruk Hai material from the 2004-2006 period.
Edition: Limited to 20 unnumbered copies only
CD 1 "Northern Lights (Part I)"
01. Ancient Pride
03. Mount Doom
05. May It Be
CD 2 "Northern Lights (Part II)"
01. Hermodr A Helferd
02. The Plague
03. The Shire
04. Gollum - Bounded In Eternity
CD 3 "A Night In The Forest (Parts I - III)"
01. Enter Fangorn
02. The Spirit Of Wood
CD 4 "A Night In The Forest (Parts IV & V)"
01. A Light Into The Darkness
CD 5 "Tawantinsuyu (Parts I &III)"
02. The Land Of The Four Suyus
03. The Ceque System
04. Viracocha (The True Sun)
05. Mountains Of Palpa
06. Catequil (God Of Thunder &Lightning)
07. The Dream Goes On
08. Signs Of The End
09. Indian Spirit
10. The Arrival Of The Conquerors
CD 6 "Tawantinsuyu (Parts II & IV)"
01. Flight Of The Condor
03. Arrival Of The Gods
04. ...From The Stars
05. The Lake
06. Gold (The Sweat Of The Sun)
08. Years Of Darkness
09. End Of It All
CD 7 "Dragons Of War (Part I)"
01. Remember The Ancient
02. Minas Morgul
CD 8 "Dragons Of War (Part II)"
02. The Eternal Halls
03. Hill Of Tears
CD 9 "Across The Misty Mountains (Part I)"
01. Asenheil (Intro)
02. The Misty Mountains
03. Into The Passes Of The Mountains
04. The Forge
05. Covered In Black Fog
06. Something Evil
07. Through The Majestic Fields
08. Weltenbrand (Outro)
CD 10 "Across The Misty Mountains (Part II)"
01. Über Die Nebelberge Weit
02. Land Of The Shadow
Not a commentary on the unexpected availability of Courage beer in the taverns of Middle-Earth (as Nazgul's initial reading of the title led him to assume) but rather another reference to Tolkien's evergreen realm and the denizens within! "Courage Is Found In Unlikely Places" was one of the first of the recent glut of Uruk Hai box-sets, and in this ambitious 2011 release Kadaath Records re-packages a number of albums from the 2004-2006 period into a handy compendium. There are no insert cards, posters or freebies, but instead simply a breadth of music that covers a number of quite hard to find releases together with one or two more widely available albums.
Let's quickly recap on the content, and how it stacks up on the Castle Nazgul 'Value-for-money-ometer'. Disc 1 gives us the "Northern Lights" album from 2005 with the same 6 songs that appear on the original release. In terms of scarcity, this is one of those albums that does appear in tape form here and there, and less occasionally in the original CDr pressing, although of course the 2011 Valgriind reissue makes this a more commonly found item now. It makes sense that the effort spent in re-mastering the original songs would not lead to them appearing on just the one reissue: that's not the Hugin way! Disc 2 is "Northern Lights Part II", which interestingly doesn't stick to the same content as the limited edition tape release of 2012. Instead it keeps 'The Shire' and 'Gollum' but adds to them the Burzum cover song 'Hermodr A Helferd' (from the split release "-2-"with Vinterriket) plus 'The Plague' from "A Viking's Journey". In fairness again, none of these tracks are particularly hard to find, but you'd need to dig up a few different releases to obtain them individually.
The third and fourth discs on this compilation sees us revisiting "A Night In The Forest" (cue animal sounds in the undergrowth and pale, bulbous eyes in the darkness). The inclusion of this album is a good thing for a number of reasons: firstly, the original CD release is now quite a rare find and commands some high prices online on the rare occasions it breaks cover. Secondly, and more importantly, is that this re-mastered version includes all five chapters: Part V 'Fire'was formerly only available on the tape pressing of the album, and seeing as tapes seem to be only bought by Nazgul, the inhabitants of Poland, and limited numbers of crazed Huginophiles, the possession of the whole masterpiece on CD is not to be sneezed at. Chalk up a definitive point in the 'value for money' column.
And so to discs 5 and 6, the epic Incan saga "Tawantinsuyu". Presented in a slightly odd running order (presumably to do with the amount of available time per disc), the recording here gives Part I and III of the story on disc 5, and parts II and IV together on disc 6. As the saga is entirely instrumental then a less than congruous running order doesn't really make a difference, and one could argue spices up the album as it now sounds somewhat 'different'. Then again, the same effect is achieved by pressing the shuffle button on the death-deck, so there's your handy top tip for the day. On the value-for-money-ometer this ranks fairly low down I fear, as extensive years of online searching for Uruk Hai releases identifies that the original digipak pressing of this album is one of the most easily obtainable recordings from the band, and a copy could be yours for very little effort or financial outlay. Can there be any fans of the band who don't yet have this convenient (and affordable) item in their collections...?
Up next, and once again spanning a pair of CD's on discs 7 and 8, we unleash the "Dragons Of War". Scores clank back into the positive in terms of value and collectability, as this release is becoming quite hard to track down either in tape or CDr format. What you benefit from here is the full track listing of the original CD pressing with the added bonus of the songs 'Lebenin' and 'Hill Of Tears' that were only on the original tape version of the demo.
Our final pairing is "Across The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away)" and here we deviate from the norm somewhat. Disc 9 - "Part I" if you will - is the longer version of the release including the intro and outro parts, previously the prerogative of the CDr version of the album. "Part II" (or disc 10 if you're keeping count) gives something far more interesting in the shape of 'Über Die Nebelberge Weit', which was only on the tape version of this demo, and - drum roll please - 'Land Of The Shadow'. The second song is of particular significance at it was only to be found on the now impossible-to-find split release with US band Woodland's Edge (see the post on Honour and Darkness for 2 September 2009 for more details), and as such its presence here winds the value-for-money-ometer right around to 10 and rings the little brass bell on the top. Nazgul is pleased.
So in terms of drawing overall satisfaction ratings, what conclusions do we draw?
Taking the value for money issue first and foremost, it must be accepted that putting out a 10CD box-set is hardly going to be the work of a few moments, and that there was always likely to be a fairly large price-tag given that only 20 copies were pressed from which the costs (and a little profit) would need to be recouped. You might consider paying £10 for a new CD release, so would £100 price tag (10 discs x £10) be justifiable for such a release? Well, possibly it would, althoughin the event the final price was somewhere in the mid-£50-£60 range, not bad value at all but not exactly cheap.
The question thus becomes whether it would be possible to collect all of the individual releases for the same price (or less), and - given the re-mastering on these newer updates - whether one should even bother? Nazgul's conclusion is that with sufficient patience you could probably locate 90% of these individual releases for around £30-£40 in outlay, but that you would be buggered (technically speaking) when it came to finding a copy of "Land Of The Shadow", and some of the tape-only songs would also take a lot of searching. This failure would make your quest incomplete, reveal you to be a penny-pinching baboon, and ultimately doom a kitten to a fiery fate for attempting such outrageous behaviour.
In terms of packaging this certainly looks the part, and despite the lack of any embellishments within the box itself the overall effect is both professional and satisfying, and the cover artwork is certainly eye-catching!
Ultimately the beauty of this box-set comes in the celebration of a swath of Uruk Hai music that has stood the test of time well and still represents the band well some 8 years or so after its original release. In buying this set you are also supporting both the artist and an up and coming label, and that too is a worthy cause. It's not cheap, for sure, but if you're missing a number of the releases above or you want something unusual and impressive in your Uruk Hai collection, then this is certainly worth seeking out. Take courage...