Title: The First Evil Spell...
Format: CDr release in slimline case with black and white copied inlay, released by Smell The Stench (Australia)
01. BONEMACHINE * The Force (unreleased new track) 11.36
02. HREFNESHOLT * Ravnagund (unreleased instrumental version) 5.05
03. HROSSHARSGRANI * Wotansschlacht (unreleased rehearsal 2001) 13.08
04. URUK-HAI * Bell Tower (unreleased Kitaro cover 2006) 3.17
05. ELISABETHA * Einleitung Zu Bathori (unreleased track 2003) 8.52
06. BONEMACHINE * Metamorphose (unreleased new track) 12.50
07. HREFNESHOLT * Nordlandsschlacht (unreleased rehearsal 2001) 8.33
08. HROSSHARSGRANI * Final March (unreleased rehearsal 2004) 6.20
09. URUK-HAI * Asenheil (unreleased introduction) 4.06
10. ELISABETHA * Ausklang (unreleased new track) 1.13
When I spotted this CDr tucked away in the lists at Leigh Stench's distro I must admit I assumed it would be a compilation of tracks from some of Hugin's projects that had seen the light of day elsewhere already. Whilst a few of these songs do indeed appear in some form or other on other releases (some subsequent to this CDr being put out) there are some rare unreleased tracks on here that make it a must-have purchase for all fans.
There is also a wealth of music on this release - over 75 minutes to be more precise - so you really are getting value for money. A nice fact is that there are 2 songs each from Alex's principal bands (at this time), so it's a nice spread of material and not too biased toward one project or another.
Rather than get into a track by track dissection - instead, why not actually seek out and buy this for yourself from Smell The Stench and judge for yourself? - I'm going to approach it band by band, assessing who I think has the best material on here...
And the votes from the English jury are as follows....
- In first place, Bonemachine: not only two of the longest tracks on here, but undoubtedly two of the best. 'The Force' is the full-length version that appeared in massively edited form as 'Darth Vader' (down to 0.44 only!) on the internet-only released "Extraterrestrial Death" EP (also through 'Stench). You can only appreciate it fully with the full version, and it's worth the price of admission alone. Second track 'Metamorphose' (not to be confused with the Hrefnesholt track of the same name) is in the same vein of catchy, synth based electronic harshness with less of the militia-based industrialism of other Bonemachine material.
- A close second for me comes Hrossharsgrani: again, some long tracks from this band but ones that keep your attention. For some the simple repetitive rhythm of much of "Wotansschlacht" might be too much, but I find it creates an almost hypnotic effect that works well in practice. As both songs are unavailable elsewhere from what I can see, well worth the time to seek them out.
- In third, the pagan ambient battle experience that is Uruk Hai: track 4 is a cover song from Japanese meditative new-age artist Kitaro (and a pleasant, laid back experience it is too), whilst 'Asenheil' is a longer version of the intro track that appears on the "Over The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away)" album, reviewed elsewhere in this Blog. Again, much like "The Force", much the better for its full-length treatment.
- Hrefnesholt pinch fourth place: 'Ravnagund' is an instrumental version of the track which ended up on the split tape "United In Heathen Blood" released in 2007, whilst 'Nordlandsschlacht' features the trademark howling wind and ambient samples of this particular project. Good tracks, but for me not as compelling as the preceding bands.
- Which leaves Elisabetha trailing at the rear I'm afraid: I think my problem with these 2 tracks is that they have nothing in common with the 'classic' radio-play days of the band, and don't fall into the neo-classical latter day style either. They're hard to distinguish as proper Elisabetha tracks really - they could be Href or Hross outtakes - and final song 'Ausklang' has hardly got going before it's gone! Still, not an unpleasant listen by any extent, just not as definitive as the other songs on the album.
Overall, as a compilation album reflecting the prolific works of A.W. it succeeds very well, and credit to Alex and to Leigh for finding the time to dust off the tracks and save them for posterity. Not sure about that cover though: seems like a release that could do with a reissue with more luxurious packaging....any offers?