Thursday, 2 July 2009

FROM THE DARK AGES


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: From The Dark Ages
Format: Cassette-tape only format, split release between Ered Gorgoroth Productions (Italy) & Nox Infandus Records (Denmark) [EG006 / NIR009] in 1999. Professionally printed double-sided inlay.
Edition: Limited to only 150 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
Side A
1. Einleitung [Hrossharsgrani] 03:35 *
2. Von Blinkenden Schwertern 11:29 **
3. Fimbulwinter 04:55 ***
4. The Gates of Mordor (Edit) 10:18 *
5. Mordor 06:43 ****
6. Totale Vernichtung 04:24 *****
7. Fauertanz 03:53 *
Side B
8. Wotans Ehre 06:08 *
9. Felagund [Part II] 03:43 *
10. Trollsturm 88 04:14 *
11. My Mourning Soul (Absurd cover track) 08:11 *
12. Aufstieg Verlorener Seelen 03:13 *****
13. Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor 02:37 *
14. The Eternal Fire 07:46 *
15. Wyrd 04:44 *
16. Ausklang [Wotansheil] 05:07 *

* Unreleased track
** taken from "Die Rukkehr Zum Pfade" rehearsal demo
*** taken from "Ewig Winter" rehearsal demo
**** taken from "In The Mystic Forest" rehearsal demo
***** taken from "Sagen & Gedichte" rehearsal CD
***** taken from "Blut" rehearsal demo

Ah yes, this is more like it! A classic Hrossharsgrani tape-only release from 1999 that celebrates the primordial soup of blasting drums, slightly fuzzy guitars and vicious vocals that crystallized the bands approach at the time.

Often misclassified as a 'best of' compilation - there are some tracks from previous demos on this release, but the majority of music is unique and new to this full-length - there are precious few of these around any more and it will doubtless be a thankless task to try to find one now.

I prefer to think of this as Alex's "thank you" to fans who had supported his band in the preceding years but who had not always been able to get their hands on some of the very limited edition releases compiled within. As such, there's some old and rare stuff that you might not have heard before (and yes, our old friend 'Fimbulwinter' returns, in an edited version!) and some new stuff to tempt you just in case you'd collected all the releases before this one.

And it all works out jolly well for all concerned: the older tracks are a good representative mix of the Hross' style, whilst the newer tracks (including an excellent Absurd cover) are right up there in the quality stakes too. Plenty of battle samples - the inside of the cover does proclaim this to be "Barbarian War Black Metal" after all - and a heady mix of film/weather/spoken word samples augment the final mix: just add drums, keyboards, vocals and guitar to taste!

Most of the music is an all-out assault on your senses but with sufficient finesse and variation not to become repetitive and dull. There are some epics too, with 'Wotan's Ehre' and 'Von Blinkenden Schwertern' taking the honours in that department, and both being excellent songs speaking of ominous wind-swept places and heroic deeds in times long ago.

My only complaint about this release is that the songs in places have evidently been recorded onto tape from a CD that is prone to skipping in a few places! More than once does the sound dip into a juddering mess as the CD sorts itself out, and it's a shame that the two labels concerned released the tape in this manner without sorting it out (I presume the others all sound the same: this is one release that I have only the one of so can't compare!!)

Good Hrossharsgrani magic though, and despite the occasional aural flaw a release Nazgul immensely enjoys and would encourage you all to hear at least once before you make your way to Valhalla.

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