This is, at time of writing, the latest release from the ambient metal force that is Uruk Hai. As such, you can celebrate the dual facts that (i) the release is in a pretty large edition for this time of split CD (500 copies) and (ii) as a result, you'll almost certainly be able to find one for sale still if you look on-line at the usual sources, or visit Hugin's MySpace page (www/myspace.com/urukhaiofficial). Welcome news indeed for the growing army of Uruk Hai fans clamouring for product!
Continuing something of a trend established over recent years, the Uruk Hai part of this split release contains some tracks that have been previously released on other albums or demos. As some of these other releases have been in very limited edition, or just plain hard to find, this isn't a bad thing for the casual listener. There's always a bit of debate when artists re-release material on successive releases, but in this instance Nazgul thinks it's a positive thing as frankly the level of opportunity for many of Hugin's potential customers to get to hear this material is often limited and - let's be honest - it's hardly the 'grab the cash and get the tills ringing' opportunism that many bands (insert your own particular bug-bear here) adopt in rehashing 'best-of' compilations every few years.
For the record, the derivations of the songs in question are as follows:
'Death Is Just Another Path' - also scheduled for the split release with Funeral Fornication, and the highlight of a bonus disc of the same name if you were one of the early-bird purchasers of "Black Blood, White Hand" from Steinklang Industries (or attended that album's release party earlier this year). This track makes another appearance, this time on the limited edition collection "Angband" released in 2010 on Runenstein Records.
'Gil-Galad' - appears on the "Angband" collection and as a self-titled tape in its own right in the Wulfrune Worxx 'split series' of releases. It is also planned to be one of the three Uruk Hai tracks on the yet-to-be released split with Mhnunrrn. Those with a longer memory will also recall a different track by the same name that appeared on the "Elbentanz" CDr released by Odium Records (hailz, Phil) in 2003.
The common theme linking these three tracks together - and the most probable reason for grouping them together here on the one single release - is their shared inspiration from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings work, and particularly the recent films. All of the songs are sample-rich in dialogue, especially 'March To War' in which a number of scenes from the storming of Helms Deep are interspersed with the music, and all have a epic and momentous drama to them that could - with a promo CD being shot over the desk of a suitably influential movie mogul - lead to a career in movie scores for our Austrian hero. The quality of the music is staggering and, as Nazgul doubtless has said before, it is amazing to compare the multi-layered songs of modern Uruk Hai to those more primitive tracks from the band's early recordings and consider that this is the same one-man project at work. If you harbour any preconceptions about the depth and ability of this band then may Nazgul respectfully suggest that you listen to the tracks on this album and be prepared to be confounded!
Indeed, 'March to War' commences with Saruman's famous speech, "A new power is rising. Its victory is at hand. This night the land will be stained with the blood of Rohan. March to Helm's Deep. Leave none alive. To war!" from The Two Towers, and proceeds through some rousing and magisterial percussion to lead the listener through the battle of Helm's Deep, including on the way Saruman's conversations with Wormtongue about the need for thousands to storm the walls (cue army of 10,000 marching Uruk Hai) and the death of Théoden whilst leading the Riders of Rohan in the battle of the Pelennor Fields.
The inspiration for the song 'Death Is Just Another Path', on the other hand, comes from the conversation between Pippin and Gandalf the Grey, as cited:
Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.
Essentially, if you are a Lord of the Rings fan and/or a lover of Hugin's Uruk Hai project you will enjoy this release enormously!
A word or three on the other half of this split, Sieghetnar, the one-man project led by Thorkraft. Not being overly familiar with his work, Nazgul has poached some appropriate commentary from other on-line sources here, which to my mind sums up the listening experience very well:
"Whilst still quite new to the scene, Sieghetnar is a musical entity that has managed to strongly establish its own unique and distinctive sound in this short time, combining elements of black metal, ambient and even some funeral doom to create a slow, melancholic and beautifully atmospheric form of music. The guitar tone, though very distorted, is not harsh-sounding like the razor-sharp sound typical of say, Xasthur, but instead a more calming, fuzzier wall of sound that surrounds the music like a dense snowfall, and this constant guitar ambiance lays the foundation for the cold, wintery feel of this album. The guitars are in no way overpowering and are instead quite relaxing and hypnotic, with guitar parts weaving in and out of each other along with keyboards, generating a blur of harmonies."
Thorkraft (pictured below) was kind enough to share some thoughts with Nazgul about the Sieghetnar project and the coming together of this split CD:
(2) Can you tell us a little more about your band Sieghetnar - when the band began, its philosophy and beliefs?
(3) What other bands have you been involved with?
(4) How did you first come across Hugin's music?
(5) How have sales been since the 500 CDs were pressed?!
(6) Do you have any favourite piece of Hugin's music (from any of his projects)?