Saturday, 19 May 2018

The 'death by a thousand cuts' post

So - what gives, Nazgul?

Well, to be honest, the last post that I put up - the prospective battle between two different Hrossharsgrani releases - seemed to be prolonging the issue somewhat.

So - tonight I'm putting up for sale on Discogs a whole load of the treasure horde of Castle Nazgul in one big listing.  Some are rare, some are impossible to find, others are more common and still more will be unique and/or hard-to-find anywhere else.

An eBay auction of t-shirts and other bits and bobs is highly likely in the future.

So if you need to plug some gaps in your collection, I strongly suggest you look at my DISCOGS page.

Yours ever

Uncle Nazgul

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

SALE #1: ANGBAND

This ... could be yours...

Band: URUK HAI
Item for sale: Angband (The Metal Fortress)

So the first Honour and Darkness vote for some time has identified “Angband” as the release most of you wish to see sold off.  Well it was a forgone conclusion, so let's get on with things.  Your wish is my command.

Here’s how this first sale will work, so please pay attention!

The sale is for the limited-to-5-copies metal box version of this release from Runenstein Records, complete and mint.  It’s been opened (hence the paper seal is breached on the tin lid, albeit carefully with a knife) and this version comes with the bonus 3” CDr, the tape, the map, the little bagged plastic figure and of course the 4CD fatbox set of discs.

The set will be formally listed for sale on Discogs at 8pm (British time) on Thursday 17 May 2018.  If you’re not yet a member of Discogs, you have a bit of time to register (it’s free).

I will be putting an ambitious price on the set, as I don’t intend just to give it away as you’ll hopefully appreciate.  In my defence, I would urge you to consider that no copy has ever been offered for sale online before, and almost certainly never will be again given the limitation.  It was released in 2010 at a cost of over €60, so it wasn’t cheap at that point and will only have appreciated in value. 

I’m using the ‘make offer’ feature on Discogs, which basically means you can assess what you think is a reasonable price to pay and send an offer at that value to me via Discogs for consideration.  Don’t be offended if I turn it down.  Also note that shipping costs (and it will only be send registered/tracked delivery) are not included in your offer, and are payable by you at the same time that payment is due.  I will invoice the lucky person through the Discogs system.  Shipping will vary by country, but will only be at cost (I don’t profit from it).

One comment about this ‘make an offer’ process – it’s happened recently that whilst one person was debating with me about what was a ‘fair price’ for a CD and prevaricating about putting in an offer, someone else came along and bought the item at the full asking price!  That can happen – making an offer does not put the item in your shopping cart and prevent others purchasing it.  So if you really want this, from experience I’d suggest not being too timid or taking too long.  Also – I think you can only make 1 offer, so once it’s in the system that’s it, you can’t up it!

All of which might sound a bit mercenary and draconian, but better that we’re all clear on the rules: I don’t really want exasperated emails from people saying ‘what gives: you ignored my offer and the item sold to someone else’.  My item, and my decision is final on any offer received. 

I will not be accepting offers to purchase outside of the Discogs site, through email or other routes.

Incidentally, I have a shedload of other cool stuff for sale on Discogs too, so feel free browse and buy whilst you’re there!

Not all items will be sold via Discogs in this way: I’m minded to do a t-shirt sale via eBay at some point over the summer, for example.  Who knows, if I am feeling generous we could even have a competition via Honour and Darkness.

So – we’re all clear, I trust. 

As Jigsaw famously said, ‘let the games begin…’

Friday, 11 May 2018

SALE #1: March to War versus Angband metal box-set

Game on!  Sale #1

Well, no time like the present to get the ball rolling.

Following on from the last post, there's a live poll running now for you which will end in the middle of the week ahead, for you to determine which of these highly coveted items will be offered for sale first.

On one hand we have the limited to 5 vinyl release of "March To WAR", signed and dedicated by Hugin and copy #1 of the 5.

On the other hand, the ridiculously rare metal box version of "Angband: The Metal Fortress" - also limited to only 5 copies in this format, including bonus 3" disc, tape, maps and soldier figure - with all of the paraphernalia and extras.

Photos below to help you decide, you can only vote once so be certain before you click, let's see what the public wants most....



The 'once in a lifetime' Castle Nazgul sale!

An open-mouthed and clearly shocked Uncle Nazgul, about to drop a bombshell

Ummm...what's going on , Nazgul...?

Well, we all knew that eventually this day might have to come, although it sticks in the back of the throat to admit it.

For a variety of reasons there has come a need to thin out the Castle Nazgul collection somewhat.  Not completely, at least not yet, but a few choice, select, rare or whatever you might want to call them releases are shortly to be offered by Nazgul for sale.

And I don't mean the sorts of tapes and CD's that you can find in any old distro around the internet, or through a quick search on eBay or Discogs.

Oh no, what I am proposing is to offer you - my loyal readers and fellow collectors - what will be quite literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy some of the rarest items associated with our much respected and loved brother, Hugin.

It could be a t-shirt.  It might be a one-off promotional or bespoke CD.  It could be one of the earliest tape demos from any number of projects, spanning Uruk Hai, Hrossharsgrani, Bonemachine, Elisabetha, or even that most collected of bands, Guts For Dinner.

As Lewis Carroll once expressed it, in his musings on the Walrus and the Carpenter:

"The time has come", the Walrus said
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing-wax
And whether Nazgul has completely lost his marbles..."

Well, no I haven't (completely) but I've been the proud owner and custodian of many fine treasures over the last 12 years plus that are linked to the wondrous musician that is our friend Hugin, and a bounty of rare releases, one-off items and more demos, albums and oddities than you can shake a stick at have accrued in the horde hidden away in Castle Nazgul.

But you too are fans.  You too covet these items, now impossible to find and so rare it literally could take a lifetime to gather them all together.  You too deserve an opportunity to hold these things, cherish them within your own collection, play/wear/view them and enjoy them for what they are: artifacts of a most extraordinary person.

Yes, it's true: I'm not planning on just giving these away: like everyone, Nazgul has bills to pay and costs to meet, so the provisional prices I may set some of these items at may at first seem prohibitive.  But then again, ask yourself this simple question - when are you ever going to see another one?  I fully intend to release items that literally only one copy might exist, or other editions that are so vanishingly rare that the last one sold might be over 10 years ago (and yes - I would have been the buyer!)

I don't apologise for asking a fair price, and I think as connoisseurs of this sort of thing, you'll understand the value of what you're getting.  And - to be blunt - any reasonable and respectful offer against an asking price will be suitably considered too.

So how will this work?

Well for fun, and to focus attention, I propose to periodically run a poll/vote on Honour and Darkness between two collectible items I am offering for sale.  The item that gets the most votes then gets put up for grabs, either through Discogs or through eBay as most appropriate.  Clearly things like t-shirts can't hit Discogs, and there are different merits in offering things in an auction setting or for a fixed price.  I dare say as time passes we'll find a happy medium, and in the time that takes Nazgul might even remember how to go the necessary guff on the Blogger site to actually put a poll in place for you all to vote on.

So there we are - watch this space.  It's not a sale that will be over and done with within a week, as I appreciate not everyone will have the money at the same time to bid on things they want, and we're all busy people with better things to do than keep on logging into auction sites.

Let's make this both fun and productive, and I sincerely hope that the items sold make you delighted, me rich beyond my wildest dreams (*cough* - not!) and generally refresh the old Honour and Darkness pages.

Watch this space...

Thursday, 10 May 2018

OF BATTLE, RAVENS AND FIRE - the original demo!



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: …Of Battles, Ravens and Fire
Format: This is a self-released tape from circa 1999 from W.A.R. Productions, no catalogue reference, band cut paper inlay and stock C60 style tape.
Edition: Only this 1 copy

Track Listing:
01.  A Legend...   
02.  Preparing For Battle   
03.  The Prayer   
04.  March Of The Einherjer   
05.  Ragnarok   
06.  The Ravenfight   
07.  Gjallarhorn

Well here is something of a scoop!

You know, back in the days when I first starting collecting Hugin’s stuff you could almost fall over releases like this with merely a casual trawl of the internet.  There seemed to be no end of distros, trade lists and online auctions out there who had demos, rare releases, signed things and random memorabilia for sale and – as a result – the collection grew quickly and all manner of strange one-offs and oddities were acquired.  Happy days indeed…

As the years have gone by the occasional item still popped up that Nazgul was pleased to find: things like the “Urd” demo from Hrossharsgrani, or peculiar non-official things like “Face The Science” that you may remember surfaced out of the blue a few years ago.  But in recent times it’s been hard – if not impossible – to source such rarities independently.  Alex, of course, has always been a star and has made more than a few things available to the Castle collection over time, so there’s been much of interest to share with you all too.

In 2018 those fertile collecting days seem long since departed, so unusual is it now to find such pieces.  Rarities shared recently on Honour and Darkness tend to have been in the collection for some time, having being stored for many moons and rationed out in posts when Nazgul judged the time was right.

So “Hallelujah!”, Nazgul cried, when his own efforts located this very rare cassette online!  And through the most innocent of means, it must be said.  A seller online was advertising quite a rare early Hrossharsgrani demo tape for sale, nothing new for the collection but the sort of thing that only turns up once every 5 or so years thus worth picking up a spare copy of.  And like you do, Nazgul asked the seller if he had any other items from Hugin’s bands to sell.

‘Only a few other standard tapes,’ he replied, ‘but I can send you a photo if you like’.  And there, nestling amongst some fairly standard Uruk Hai tape releases, was this unfamiliar looking item.  Better photos were requested and sent, Nazgul got all excited and raided the Castle coffers, and the item was secured and send across with the original purchase from Germany.

So what in blue blazes is it, you cry?! 

Well, essentially it is the very first demo version Hugin made of what became the CD EP “Of Battles, Ravens and Fire” released on CCP Records in 2000.  Before any of the official releases, this was the original recording sent off to secure a deal.

Hugin was – to put it mildly – surprised when Nazgul shared his find with him, as he had completely forgotten about the tape’s existence.  Putting his thinking cap firmly on, Hugin recalled, “I think it was before the CCP deal, I planned to do a split with Nachtfalke with this recording but then CCP wanted to release it as a CD EP...” and one thing led to another until ultimately said CD came into existence.

The interesting part of the story – how the tape went from CCP into the hands of the owner Nazgul bought it from – is currently unknown, but one of these days I might go back to him to ask.  The seller’s name means nothing to Hugin, so it’s likely that it was gifted or sold from the label to person(s) unknown over the years before by lucky chance falling within the gaze of the fiery eye atop Castle Nazgul.

One nice outcome of this story is that the photo of Hugin used on the tape inlay is not one that he had in his possession anymore, so Nazgul is now tasked with the happy job of putting together a decent scan of it to send back over to Austria for posterity.

Let’s hope 2018 brings more such surprises and collectibles to share!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

ALPHA ΩMEGA [V/A]


Band: URUK HAI (as a contributor to a song by Fahl)
Title: Alpha Ωmega [V/A]
Format: An online download only via Bandcamp, compiled by the ETOR label (Greece) and released on 25 January 2017.  This collection features 34 songs covering the genres of Neofolk; Neo-Classical; Industrial; Electro; Dark Ambient; and Darkwave
Edition: unlimited download

Track Listing:
01.   In Slaughter Natives feat. Cecilia Bjärgö  *  Black Soil  4:55 
02.   L'Effet C'Est Moi  *  Homeric Hymns To Athena  3:56 
03.   Death In Rome  *  Take On Me  5:16 
04.   Naevus  *  Odour (acoustic version)  3:34 
05.   Cornelius Waldner  *  The Walls Of Troy  2:38 
06.   Darkwood  *  Broken Wings  4:12 
07.   Fahl feat. Uruk-Hai  *  Untitled  6:02 
08.   Jännerwein  *  Eine Liebe  5:07 
09.   TSIDMZ Ὁ  *  τοῦ ἄντρου μῦθος  7:37 
10.   Strydwolf  *  Anastasia  3:04 
11.   Ataraxia  *  Lucretia (new version)  5:24 
12.   Skull & Dawn  *  Edward  8:59 
13.   Dark Awake  *  Mystique  3:23 
14   Allerseelen  *  Sonne Gothi-Ade (2015)  3:36 
15.   Valence (N2 ItinitI) * On First Seeing The Ocean  4:25 
16.   Lupi Gladius  *  Solidea  2:54 
17.   Sieben  *  Cult Of The Fallen  4:06 
18.   Sophia  *  The Unclean  4:11 
19.   Τέθριππον  *  Katharon Pyr (ΤΕΘΡΙΠΠΟΝ - ΚΑΘΑΡΟΝ ΠΥΡ)  5:29 
20.   Falkenstein  *  Trojaburg  3:53 
21.   Awen  *  Spiritual Echo  3:33 
22.   In Ruin  *  The Edge Of Light  4:52 
23.   1.9.8.4.  *  Frustration  4:34 
24.   Albireon  *  La Spusa De Striun (spirit mix 2015)  5:56 
25.   Stein  *  Stille  3:57 
26.   Tribes Of Medusa  *  Betrayal  5:23 
27.   Miel Noir  *  Honey Offering (Demeter's March)  4:55 
28.   Sagittarius  *  Spiel  2:19 
29.   Hekate  *  Lifetime  4:19 
30.   Karjalan Sissit  *  Vittumainen Yksinäisyys-Puliukko Mix  4:14 
31.   Traum'er Leben  *  Vorüber-Vorbei  4:46 
32.   Changes  *  It’s Up To You  3:16 
33.   Der Arbeiter  *  Für Die Neue Zeit  4:10 
34.   Tyr-Kreis  *  Unity [Shava Sadhana cover song]  5:32 

Another day, another whopping online only compilation.  They seem to be all the rage now, and with streaming and downloads being the choice of the youth rather than ye-olde-school physical releases I suppose this is only to be expected.  A shame though, Nazgul still likes to get his hands on an actual product rather than stare at it through the computer monitor.  A sign of age, I guess.

Anyway, what we have here is the first – and so far only – release on a Greek label called ETOR.  And I can find out absolutely nothing about that label on its Bandcamp or Facebook pages other than they seem to be currently marketing themselves as a live-events company based in Athens, focused on concert promotions.  Curious, but there you are.

The interest in this collection of diverse songs lies for us at track 7, where an previously unknown-to-me band called Fahl have Uruk Hai as a featured artiste on their track ‘untitled’.  Investigate Fahl and you will discover that it was founded by Dimo Dimov, Marcel P. and Cornelius Waldner in autumn 2008.

Now these names will be familiar to you I’m sure, but to recap Dimo hails from Bulgaria and has been active in a host of bands (Allerseelen, Fahl, Miel Noir, Moon Orchard, Sagittarius, Sturmpercht, Svarrogh) as well as being an occasional third member of Hugin’s Ravenclaw project.  Marcel P. has an overlapping band history, best known as the bassist in Allerseelen but also appearing in Fahl, Halgadom, Ill-Sanity, Miel Noir, Moby's Dick, Sagittarius, Svarrogh, and Werra. 

And if your head isn’t spinning yet, last but not lease we have Cornelius Waldner who currently features with Fahl, Hailstorm, Sagittarius, and Warloghe but who has also played with HERR, Von Thronstahl, The Days Of The Trumpet Call, Rose Rovine E Amanti and several others live and/or in the studio.  Crikey!

On this particular Fahl song, however, it’s principally Marcel P. and Hugin in action.  It’s a classic neo-folk sort of outing too, with an almost military precision to the drumming, spoken word vocals (in German, so I’ve not a clue if it’s a lament on the state of the Motherland or a stream-of-consciousness recital of a shopping list, to be honest).  Not a particularly uplifting track from a few listens, it seems quite sombre and reflective.

Ultimately it’s like nothing that you’ve heard Hugin involved in before, and a quite a step apart from his own leanings in that direction through projects like B-Machina.
 
There are a few bands on this collection that even Nazgul is familiar with including old favourites Hekate and  Miel Noir, and taken as a whole the listening experience is quite spectacular.  Not the cheapest online purchase you’ll ever make, but you can at least preview the songs via ETOR’s Bandcamp page to see what you might be getting yourself into first.

Worth some exploration…

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Today is ... Black Jade day!


Band: Black Jade
And why are they featured here, Nazgul?  Well, this band have appeared on split releases with Uruk Hai in the past, and as a result Nazgul has built up a collection of their work, featured below, shortly to be offered for sale...

Yes, today – the 18th April 2018 – is officially designated Black Jade day at Castle Nazgul!

As you will know Nazgul collects a variety of bands and musical projects, and once in a blue moon decides to feature one in Honour and Darkness, normally because of a connection with one of Hugin’s bands.  This is why Black Jade are featured, having been part of the 2013 split release “The Sadness of Fallen Leaves” with Uruk Hai and also on the 2014 “Guardians of the Rings” 4-way split along with Onyx and Ringbearer.   

Black Jade are from Switzerland, and play Tolkien influenced black metal though through the band’s recording career this has mellowed occasionally into more ambient territories with female vocals and lighter melodies.  Their discography has also been a fun one to collect, being comprised of many highly limited edition releases in low number editions in much the same vein as Mr Wieser’s manifold releases have been issued over the years, albeit in a much reduced quantity of actual titles.

Strangely, at least in my experience, it is the more recent releases that tend to be harder to find than the earlier ones.  Why the edition numbers were much smaller as time went on it open to speculation, though it made for an interesting band to collect.

I’ve greatly enjoyed these releases, but the time has come to set them loose upon the world (or, more accurately, upon Discogs).  Before then, however, let’s have a quick run through of the collection, before it gets split asunder:


Holocaust 666 (Limited 500 copies, 2001)
Very hard to find original band release, which is frequently called a demo rather than an official release.  The release is not without charm, though has moments of strangeness in audio terms.  As the band themselves later explained, “The whole thing sounds pretty bumpy today.  We had several difficulties at the time.  For one thing, we did not play well together musically.  For another, we did not have a real drummer.  Playing in time, for example, was not one of our strengths.  The technology in the studio also cost us some nerves back then and funny beeps, which were caused by the PC system, have repeatedly disturbed the recordings.  But they are funny memories that you will not forget…!”

This is a stock image rather than Nazgul's own copy, as the one I bought a month to complete this collection is still missing in action somewhere in the air between Russia and Castle Nazgul as I type.  Hey ho, the perils of collecting.  Onwards...


Forest Of Edoras (Limited 666 copies, 2003)
8 song second release, and musically a significant improvement to their first.


...Of Forest and Fire (1st pressing 666 copies, digipak reissue with bonus songs 1000 copies, 2005)
“... Of Forest and Fire ...” was the first CD after the original band split up.  In terms of content, it is the first 100% Tolkien-inspired album. 

There were two versions of the CD.  The original pressing was released via Ewiges Eis Records, and a limited edition digipak version on Black Tower Productions, with bonus tracks.  Thanks to the participation of high-calibre guest musicians, the CD came alive and although the whole disc is not high-end in terms of production technology, there is a great deal of passion in this publication.  There are a lot of good songs with great lyrics on this CD.


Helvetica Diabolica (Limited 666 copies, 2007)
Random trivia alert!  “Helvetica Diabolica” was originally planned as a 7” picture disc ep, but it was just a couple of songs too much for that format so an entire CD was spawned.  Additional trivia fact; it was the first CD where everything was played by Naragarth.  More of a down-to-earth black metal disc, this CD has produced a few classics that have achieved Black Jade cult status.

The very limited edition wax-sealed special edition verson

...Und Alle Pfade sind Versunken Tief Im Schatten (Limited to 100 copies in special version, 2011)
At the end of 2011 Black Jade released “... And all paths are lost deep in the shadows”, the successor to “... Of Forest and Fire ...”.  It is divided into two parts, a first quiet part that is sung entirely by Betty and a second part characterized by black and pagan metal.  For the first time Münggu (Excelsis, Minhyriath, Folkearth, Folkodia) was present with the bagpipe and on the flute.  Newcomers included Marlon Ruch from Eternal Death, who sang all Death Metal vocals, and Andreas Langer, who played a few guitar solos.  Cracking production, it's full of great songs like “Feanor's Curse Part I”, which is actually a cover version of a Lake of Tears song.

The much coveted limited edition came with a wax sealed paper envelope with number on the reverse, a patch, and a map of Middle Earth and the Undying Lands.


The Sadness Of Fallen Leaves (Limited 500 copies, 2013)
Nazgul has previously reviewed this album in Honour and Darkness of course, so let’s hear what Black Jade themselves said about this release:

“The split CD “The Sadness Of Fallen Leaves” with Uruk Hai was a project that has been planned for many years.  In 2012, however, Alexander and I decided to finally put the plans into action.  On this split CD you will find a bunch of stylistic mix.  With “Arien” and “A Homeless Shadow” there are two real black metal numbers.  “We Booze In Golden Halls” is also a tough one, even though there is no comparable Black Jade song yet, because it is a true “Mitgröhl song”.  With “Valinor's Light”, “Where The Leaves Not Fall” and “Where Eagles Fly”, there are three wonderful, quiet songs sung by Betty.


The Prophecy Of The North (Limited to 50 copies in DVD-sized case, 2013)
“The Prophecy of the North” was the band’s own album of 2013. The album begins where “... and all the paths have sunk deep in the shadows” and “... of forest and fire ...” stopped and generally only harder songs can be found on this album - Black and Pagan Metal fans get their money's worth here! 

The last 3 tracks are bonus songs from the Uruk Hai split release.


Auf Vergessenen Pfaden (Limited 500 copies, 2014)
Essentially, as far as I can make out, these songs were the physical release for tracks on the otherwise online only download “Warden of Tol Sirion”.  Notable too for being another split release outing, this time with Tolkien-influenced Germanic metal horde Carn Dûm.


Guardians Of The Rings (Limited to 99 copies in DVD-sized case, 2014)
A real treat for fans of this style of music, this four-way split features bands familiar to all long-time Honour and Darkness followers – Ringbearer, Onyx, Uruk Hai and of course Black Jade.  In terms of the latter bands input, there were three new and one old (newly recorded) song.  The three new songs are very melodic and catchy, with many epic passages and plenty of piano, and there is a good amount of electro in “Awake”.  “Ar-Pharazôn” was re-recorded from the 2005 original version with the biggest change being the German text.


The Downfall Session (Limited edition of 50 in DVD-sized box, plus a standard edition, 2015)
The band advise that this is a CD that you should not take too seriously, because the songs are ‘relatively evil’ for Black Jade!  The songs were originally intended for a split release with Numenor, which never came out.  The song “Ar-Pharazôn”, which is on the "Guardians of the Rings” was originally intended for this CD as well.  As the band are keen to stress, “Please remember, “The Downfall Session” is just a little musical outing, we will not keep this style!”

The limited edition version contains as a bonus the songs of the “Warden of Tol Sirion” but this time remixed and mastered professionally by Dösi in BWS Studio.


Ea (Limited to 30 copies, 2016)
This is where the Black Jade story currently comes to an end.  This album continues where “Warden of Tol Sirion” left off, and thematically we are again deeply immersed in the stories of Middle-Earth. 


And there you have it.

Something of a diversion from the normal entries in the blog, but Nazgul hopes that you like it.  Drop me a line if any of the releases above appeal to you, as they will shortly all be offered for sale online in a bit of a spring clear-out at Castle Nazgul.  Indeed, one or two other posts of this nature may pop up in the months ahead as other linked collections are thinned out a bit to make more room for the Castle’s monkey to swing from room to room.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

"Happy Birthday to you..."

Grrr .. dude, where's my cake?!
It's that time of the year - again!

Who can believe that 365 days have elapsed since Hugin's last birthday, but nonetheless it's true.  Another candle on the cake this year, and the journey towards the big 5-0 increases in speed.

Age affects all of us in different ways - clearly Nazgul is getting more and more demented as each year goes by (this year, for example, I found something quite nice to send to Hugin as a present only for Hugin to gently point out that I sent him the exact same gift some three years earlier...)

Happily, the advancing years do not seem to have diminished Hugin's own capacities, which is a very good thing indeed in terms of the possibility of more excellent releases in the decade ahead.

The photo here, by the way, comes from a set that are in the Castle archives and which I must put up in full some day as they are largely unpublished I'd wager, and contain many poses of this character in all of it's corpse-painted glory...!

Until then, let's all wish Hugin a very happy birthday for 2018!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

MIT STÄHLERNEM BLICK - update


Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Mit Stahlernem Blick
Reason for update: A special one-off variant of this 2016 release.

Is it really almost April already?  A significant month here in Castle Nazgul for one main reason - it's Hugin's birthday early in the month and normally we'd do a post to celebrate it.  Let's hope the gruelling work schedule currently punishing your old uncle Nazgul doesn't get in the way of putting a suitable post together for that occasion...

And just in case you are beginning to wonder if Honour and Darkness has gone into terminal decline, let's find a few minutes to dredge from the archive something a little more unusual to look at today and to get a new post up - and no, it's not an April Fool's Day joke!

No, what you see here is a bespoke one-off 3" CDr release of the B-Machina vinyl-only song 'Mit Stahlernem Blick' that we covered back in January.  The reason for it's existence is simply that anything vinyl that comes into Nazgul's clutches is immediately guaranteed to be kept pristine and in mint condition for ever and a day on the basis that I still have no turntable to play it on.

And so kindly old Hugin - no doubt rolling his eyes at his evidently tight-fisted friend over the Channel - puts together a playable CDr version for me to review.  And this is the copy that was used as the basis for that January review, as you will have deduced.

The cover is folded piece of card, and it sits in a small clear plastic wallet.  I think it's probably a trimmed B-Machina postcard or promo card actually, rather than a unique creation for this particular mini-disc, but it looks the part and I'm certainly not complaining whatever its origins - at least I got to hear this particular song!

Speaking of things vinyl, by the way, the Castle Nazgul inbox literally trembled at the receipt last night of an email (unsolicited, and totally out of the blue) from US label Beasst Promotions, who you may recall were at the centre of an apparent bit of scamming over the vinyl reissue of the Hrossharsgrani "Uruk Hai" demo.  They suggested manufacturing issues had rendered the first batch of this album as unsaleable, and effectively asked if I'd be interested in reordering.  Hmmm, not sure I've got the physical endurance to go through all of that again, but I'll keep you posted if I do...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

ORIGIN OF EVIL [V/A]


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Origin Of Evil [V/A]
Format: An online digital compilation pulled together by South Korean label Fallen Angel Productions, released for free on 13 February 2018.  
Edition: unlimited
 
Track Listing:
01. Katharos XIII (Romania) - The Chains Are So Beautiful  08:21  
02. Code Red (Japan) - Destroy  03:15  
03. Krigere Wolf (Italy) - Towards the Black Mass  05:18  
04. Winter Deluge (New Zealand) - ...Now You Reap  08:42  
05. Basilisk (Japan) - In Most Septile  05:30  
06. Draconis Infernum (Singapore) - Anathema  03:38  
07. Sabbat (Japan) - Transmigration of the Soul  05:03  
08. Malichor (Australia) - Sentinels  05:03  
09. Necromutilator (Italy) - Fuck With Darkness  02:53  
10. Iron Woods (Brazil) - Sound of War  06:00  
11. 原罪 Original Sin (China) - 衰老前死去 (Die Before Senility Sets In)  06:26  
12. Mourning Dawn (France) - When the Sky Seems to Be a Flag  12:12  
13. Hellfire (China) - Possessed by Satan  04:57  
14. Vomit of Doom (Argentina) - Woman in Eternal Darkness (Astral Witch)  02:27  
15. Kvalvaag (Norway) - Dystopia Naa  08:34  
16. AK11 (Australia) - Their Flesh our Fire  04:07  
17. Morte Negra (Brazil) - Que a Desgraça Caia Sobre a Humanidade  04:23  
18. Kyy (Finland) - The Narrow Gates of Apôleia  04:57  
19. Barbarian Swords (Spain) - Pure Demonology  03:11  
20. Spectral (Romania) - Neural Correlates of Hate  02:59  
21. Rademassaker (Germany) - Paindealer  02:22  
22. Rerthro (China) - III  04:00  
23. Descend Into Despair (Romania) - Silence In Sable Acrotism  08:24  
24. Dekapited (Chile) - Mundo Decadente  03:41  
25. Heretical (Italy) - Khrysos Anthemon  03:46  
26. Wolfenhords (Croatia) - Kozoglav  07:12  
27. Aasgard (Greece) - Ia Nyarlathotep  05:52  
28. Valgaldr (Norway) - Et slott i skogen  05:08  
29. Malediction 666 (Brazil) - Malediction  03:26  
30. Gothic (Romania) - Shadow Man  05:01  
31. De Vermis (New Zealand) - Black Wolf Pride  05:50  
32. Decay of Reality (Russia) - Illusion's Death  04:43  
33. Argus Megere (Romania) - Tronul celui ce stă de strajă 10:41  
34. 帝辛 Tyranny (China) - 金台拜将 06:10  
35. Skull (Colombia) - Infinite Horizon  04:00  
36. Bloodlust (Australia) - Shadows of the Black Sun  07:34  
37. Skuldom (New Zealand) - Kill this Fucking World  03:38  
38. Belkant (Colombia) - Mesías Satánico  02:33  
39. CodeRed (Romania) - The Sixth Sun  08:01  
40. Wendigo (Norway) - Cannibal Ritual  06:57  
41. Forbidden Shape (Russia) - The Sleepwalking Psychopath  06:18  
42. Herege (Brazil) - Cries of despair coming from Christians burning in Jerusalem  02:22  
43. Indian Fall (Romania) - Dincolo de Timp  07:34  
44. Obscure Dream (China) - Farewell To My Concubine (霸王别姬 ) 04:22  
45. Sodomic Baptism (Belarus) - Conception of Beast  07:56  
46. Claret Ash (Australia) - Devolution  05:44  
47. Uruk Hai (Austria) - In Mordor (Outro)  04:30 

Funnily enough, it was only the other evening when Nazgul was pondering whatever happened to South Korean label Fallen Angel Productions.  They released, you may recall, some startlingly good compilations in physical formats ranging from little wooden chests to lavish cardboard boxes, and from tape and CD combos to gold-CD boxed-sets, for Uruk-Hai and Hrossharsgrani plus a range of other bands besides.  And then, just as quickly as they burst onto the scene, they seemed to vanish. 

Indeed, ahead of this online-only compilation being advertised, Nazgul had been rummaging around online trying to find out if the label was still in existence and it had become apparent that they’d moved away from physical releases and into the digital world.

So it’s most timely that “Origin Of Evil” has been produced, as it allows us to keep abreast of the Fallen Angels story, celebrate the existence of free release featuring Uruk Hai, and brings this release to your attention whilst it’s relatively new and fresh.

No less than 47 bands feature here, a prodigious number for sure and a volume usually only seen in the demented releases of our old mucker Leigh Stench (and is it just me or does Uruk Hai tend to appear in last place in the running order on more than an average number of these sort of vast compilations?!) 

At first glance the countries of origin seem to span the globe and cover virtually everywhere, but on closer inspection some countries (albeit with different artists) feature significantly more times.  By way of example, from 47 entries a total of 7 are Romanian (nigh on 15%, which seems disproportionately high), 5 are Chinese, whilst 4 are from Australia and  Brazil respectively.  So that’s 43% of the album taken up, then! 

Uruk Hai fly the sole Austrian flag here (hurrah!) with their ‘In Mordor (Outro)’ track.  It's an up-tempo piece, dominated by a persistent violin and underpinned by blackened vocals and guitar.  But why are you asking me what it sounds like - click on the links and check it out for yourself, then make a suitably polite donation for the privilege.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Shhh ... it's a secret...!

An intentionally blurred photo of the inside, to preserve the anonymity of the contents...

Bands: URUK HAI and EISMOND
Title: No, sorry, can't tell you that!
Format: 2 x CDr set released on a small European label in 2013 - there are catalogue reference details etc. but they remain a secret.  It comes in a black paper sleeve with clear round front window to display some of the artwork, and is hand-numbered in silver on the back of the envelope.  The contents are two discs with semi-pro printed white labels.  A multitude of bands feature as it is a compilation album intended for a very limited circulation.
Edition: 50 hand-numbered copies only

Track Listing:
Of the 27 bands to feature, the pertinent two for our purposes are:
CD2 track 1: Uruk Hai  *  Lucifer
CD2 track 12: Eismond  *  The Wind That Shakes The Grass (edit version)

Contrary to popular opinion Castle Nazgul hasn't exploded as a result of recent seismic events in the UK, nor has your old uncle Nazgul fallen into one the oubliettes in the Castle gardens after a rowdy night out at the One Legged Hobbit pub down the road.

No, the recent bout of inactivity (if that's not a contradiction) is solely down to the old chestnut of not having enough hours in the day to do justice to a new post.  There's been a lot going on recently, none of which you will care a hoot about I fully appreciate, but suffice to say after a few months of reorganisation in the 'real' job Nazgul is now twice as busy as he used to be, slightly more senior in the hierarchy, no better off financially, but thankfully still employed.

By way of celebration, a new post has therefore been commissioned from the Castle's own monkey, and here it is.  Well, sort of: efforts to shift any blame clearly won't work here.  Nazgul is sticking his neck out a bit here as a veil of secrecy surrounds this particular release, none of which I am prepared to discuss here, but which hopefully gives context to the edited details and intentionally blurry photo that accompanies the post.  All very mysterious I know, but needs must...

You see, very occasionally Nazgul ends up with something in his collection that Hugin has suggested (politely, as is his way) would be better kept under wraps.  Not many things in truth, though perhaps 2 or 3 other items fall into this category.  Things change over time, allegiances alter, interests are repositioned, people come and go, you know the sort of thing that can distance you from former actions.

But equally, the old golden nugget sometimes emerges that is of such interest then acknowledging its existence outweighs the shroud of secrecy.  And so, in Nazgul's judgement, it proves to be with the Uruk Hai song featured on the second disc of this limited pressing - a rare and excellent Uruk Hai song that does not exist anywhere else in the official discography of this mighty Austrian band.

So at risk of incurring the boundless wrath of W.A.R. (fingers crossed that we won't, protective armour donned just in case we do) here's a post to cover the piece in question...

'Lucifer' is the song in question, being a spoken word piece (following an instrumental opening and a short, female vocal melody to add atmosphere).  It is, in essence, a song containing lyrics from the poem 'Lucifer' written by one Ludwig Fahrenkrog.

"Who he?", I hear you all cry!

Well, he has a German writer who lived in the period 1867 to 1952, and was also a recognised playwright and artist.  Born in Rendsburg, Prussia, he attended the Berlin Royal Art Academy as a young artist before ultimately being appointed a professor there in 1913.

He was involved in founding a series of folkish religious groups in the early part of the Twentieth Century, as part of a movement to create what its adherents referred to as a 'Germanic religious community', founded in part in his belief in the religious nature and mission of art.  The religious mission in particular was the revival of the pre-Christian Germanic faith and the rejection of Christianity, hinted at in such paintings as Luficer's Renunciation of god (1898).

Fifteen years after this, Fahrenkrog published a book (Lucifer: Poetry in Word and Image) in which Lucifer speaks in tones reminiscent of the German anarchist philosopher, Max Stirner: 'We choose our own property - the right to freedom.  The empire of the spirit wants only masters, not slaves'.

Of course, the span of Fahrenkrog's lifetime crossed paths with the rise of Nazism.  When the Nazis came to power in 1933 they outlawed almost every group not affiliated with the Nazi Party though Fahrenkrog's then organisation (GGG - Germanische Glaubens Gemeinschaft) was allowed to carry on.  This was nothing to do with Nazi sympathies, but more due to Ludwig's international status as an artist.

Some of the activities of the GGG were limited though: they could no longer hold public meetings, and after 1938 they could no longer use the swastika (which they had, in it's more innocent context, since 1908).  Fahrenkrog, to his enduring credit, refused to use 'Heil Hilter' in letters, and was effectively sidelined if tolerated by the regime.

All of which sounds like Nazgul has swallowed a history book, so let's move on!

Heading back to the song, there's almost an inevitability that being spoken word there's a solemnity to it that's quasi-religious/monastic at times, and as such it stands apart from 95% of everything else recorded by that project.  Which, of course, makes it of importance and interest regardless on which compilation it has ended up on.  It's also a typically excellent piece of music, and it would be a shame if it never makes a public appearance anywhere else in the otherwise prodigious output of Uruk Hai.

Very quickly addressing the Eismond contribution, it's unique in being an edited version of the song 'The Wind That Shakes The Grass', released as you will remember on the 2013 full-length release "As We Hide The Moon".  Nothing overtly interesting to add to that bit of trivia, but it's actually rather nice to hear a bit of Eismond again: whatever happened to that side-project...?

Well, dear readers, Nazgul's allotted time for rambling and musing is just about up for today, and it's nose to the grindstone for me again (what you don't realise, as you read these words, is that most of my posts are written at around 06:45 in the office before I start the day job, rather than in the evening at the Library desk accompanied by a guttering candle and with a robust glass of red wine in hand!)

Keep the faith - Honour and Darkness lives ... assuming W.A.R. is still speaking to Castle Nazgul after today?!