Band: ALEXANDER WIESER with Fra Diavolo (aka Bruder Cle)
Title: Höllenkreis (Des Bruders Böser Garten)
Format: A professionally formatted CD on Alex's own W.A.R. Productions label (Austria), cat ref WAR 098, released on 12 March 2015. The artwork is in full colour, and this is in a multi-panel digipak format.
Edition: 500 unnumbered copies
01. Die Maschine 4:48
02. Himmel & Hölle 4:18
03. Berserker 5:25
04. Shanghai 3:49
05. Höllenkreis 3:56
06. Trollsturm 4:11
07. Das Hungergespenst 2:46
08. Unten 5:12
09. Josef Sichelgruber 3:21
10. Mutter 4:18
11. Erstkontakt 3:24
Goodness! Clearly not a stroll down the country lanes into the Enchanted Forest for a gentle climb up the Faraway Tree, then...
In respect of everything but the artwork, which you will have surmised is based upon the book cover, this is pretty much an Uruk Hai style album in feel and construction. And this is no bad thing, of course, as we love Uruk Hai releases with a passion bordering on mania in Castle Nazgul. It is a bit strange, through, to read the song titles and try to interpret the musical passages in context. Normally these expansive songs are named after the sweeping and majestic plains of Middle Earth, or pay tribute to the grandiose battles or epic weaponry of Tolkien's realm. Trying to interpret such music against a title such as 'The Hungry Ghost' (Das Hungergespenst) or 'First Contact' (Erstkontakt) feels a bit odd, somehow.
That said, the book is solely available in German so my understanding of specific stories within it is about as complete as my understanding of the rings of Saturn (and not the Californian deathcore band of that name, either). Bruder Cle was obviously very happy with how the project turned out, which we can ascertain from his thanks-to section in the liner notes, so who am I to cast doubt on the artistic integrity of the concept?
But let's not be ungenerous. Played in its own right there's much to savour on this album, and if you can step away from any expectations you might entertain about how this release would be different from Hugin's normal work, you will find much to enjoy in the very familiarity of the material on offer. And do my ears deceive me, or does our man pinch the melody line from the Game of Thrones theme and shoehorn it into 'Trollsturm' as it goes galloping past....?!
Ultimately the contents of the book may well represent a trip to the Circle of Hell, and the gist of the few online reviews (in German, of course) that don't simply parrot the promotional blurb do rather back up the assertion that this is a collection of splatter horror stories that will genuinely gross you out. The accompanying album does not succeed in paralleling that experience, but does once again shown that Hugin knows his way round this instruments and can knock out a good set of tunes in his curiously unique and engaging style.
A quick plug for the book, by the way: it's available quite easily on Amazon and online book retailers, and can be bought for a reasonably good price given it must be a fairly low volume publication.