Wednesday, 25 November 2009

IN THE MYSTIC FOREST


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: In The Mystic Forest
Format: Cassette-tape only pressing on the Chanteloup Creations (France) label in 2000, catalogue reference AWE51. Apparently there is also an alternate signed edition with one additional track released through the Christhunt Label.
Edition: Chanteloup issue in hand-numbered edition of 300. Christhunt version limited to 6 copies

Track Listing:

1. Menegroth (Intro) 1:41
2. Mordor 6:13
3. You and Me 6:05
4. Khazad Dum 2:40
5. Mithrandir 5:34
6. The Sign of Nargothrond 1:50
7. Nargothrond 4:45
8. Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor 2.37 (as Christhunt Edition bonus only)

With this demo from 2000 Hrossharsgrani continued to develop their ambient-Viking sound, a unique blend of black metal touches (in vocals and drums) with more atmospheric keyboards and ad hoc touches of classical music or samples. By the standards of the project this is a fairly short demo at under 30 minutes in length, but what it lacks in duration it certainly makes up for in quality.

Some of the songs here have appeared on other releases (some of which have been covered in this Blog already), notably the beautifully choral 'Mithrandir', 'You and Me' from the "Demo Compilation Volume 1" collection, and 'Mordor' which featured on the "From The Dark Ages" tape of 1999.

Of the remaining tracks, two are short introductory pieces at just under two minutes apiece whilst 'Khazad Dum' is also a pretty short song at under three minutes. 'Menegroth' has a flute-like musical theme flowing through it with some light percussion towards the end, leading us into the chanting march that opens the trip to 'Mordor' itself. This track is not the 'darkness and evil' fest that you might have been expecting, reminding Nazgul at times of the 'Balaquenta/Moria' finale to Uruk Hai's "Elbenwald" with the thunderstorm raging in the background throughout the track. It's more of an ambient adventure punctuated with guitar and those throaty vocals from Hugin, with simple yet effective keyboard riffs maintaining an underpinning melody. Late in the track the pounding war-drums of the Hrossharsgrani battle-machine kick in to pulverize you into the ground.

All of the tracks on this album (Nazgul has the regular Chanteloup Creations edition to hand, #104 of the 300) follow a similar theme and style - with the notable exception of 'Mithrandir' which, through its merger of choral, classical and black metal is one of the best Hross' songs from these early years in Nazgul's view - so the demo hangs together nicely as a result.

The Christhunt edition of this particular demo that is said to exist is one tape that Nazgul has yet to track down, so if anyone out there has one and wish to part with it then you know where to come! The bonus song on that particular edition is also contained at track 13 on the "From The Dark Ages" tape, incidentally.

This is another one of those demos that you could occasionally find online a few years ago if you were willing to search around the distros but that now seems to be sold-out everywhere, and perhaps to no surprise. It's a good one! This copy - dedicated and signed on the front of the case by Hugin in case you're wondering what the gold writing says ("Tolkien Rules") - took a while to hunt down, but thanks to Skogen another item was captured for the collection.

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