Title: Northern Lights
Reason for update: 2011 reissue of this album on the Valgriind label (Russia), cat ref VG47.
Edition: Presumed unlimited
01. Ancient Pride 21.24
02. Northhammer 9.23
03. Mount-Doom 20.50
04. Iceland 6.42
05. May It Be (Enya cover) 3.11
06. Hermodr A Helferd (Burzum cover) 2.56
07. The Plague 8.49
The inspiration for today's post comes from one of this morning's visitors to Honour and Darkness, who Nazgul spotted was from Rovaniemi in Finland. A beautiful part of the world, which Nazgul and his beautiful lady wife were fortunate to be able to visit a few years ago to enjoy the winter pursuits and seek out the northern lights. And, providentially, with the reissue of Uruk Hai's "Northern Lights" album on the Russian Valgriind label waiting in the wings for a review, the stars seemed suitably aligned to get on with this task!
In terms of comparison to the 2005 CD and tape releases there are some notable differences. Firstly, the artwork has been completely revised and to good effect: some of the internal artwork on the booklet and inlays is really good, particularly in showing the different dimensions of the Lights themselves. It's also rather nice to have a quality picture CD, mirroring the same thing that Hexenreich Records did with the 2005 version. Paper quality is a little on the thin side in the inlay booklet itself, and you'd have to be careful not to tear it over time.
The songs have been remastered by Hugin in 2010 and - following on from Nazgul's griping about the "In Durin's Halls" reissue - I have to tell you that this treatment works very well on this release, with but a few sympathetically added additional loops or samples. In essence, the new version spruces-up of the original songs rather than re-engineers them, and the end result sounds marvellous to these ears.
The track listing has changed a little: the core of the first 5 songs remain consistent between the versions, and as ever there is enormous contrast in sounds and atmosphere created here. Two of the tracks - 'Northhammer' and 'Icland' - feature Arkillery's Krom on guitar and vocals, and have a definite 'metal' vibe going on generated by Krom's dirty guitar buzzing away and rasping vocals. In contrast, the cover of Enya's 'May It Be' is performed with Hildr Valkyrie and couldn't sound more different to the Krom collaborations. Equally the epic and sweeping atmosphere of 'Ancient Pride' is very different to the claustrophobic rumblings created within 'Mount-Doom'.
So far, so very good! Two bonus tracks await on this 2011 reissue, replacing 'Moria (Covered In Black Fog)' from the 2005 CD pressing and also replacing the two exclusive tape-only songs from the early cassette pressing, being 'Dark' and 'Pagan Spirit'. Valgriind's offerings in the bonus slot are Burzum cover 'Hermodr A Halferd', previously seen on the "~2~" split with Vinterriket, and 'The Plague' from the "Elbenmacht" demo. And, Nazgul recalls, both of these bonus tracks also appear on the tape release "A Viking's Journey" too.
Interestingly, as well as this reissue the monstrous Uruk Hai 10CD box-set "Courage Is Found In Unlikely Places" also features "Northern Lights" amongst its contents, albeit with a further three songs to augment the seven on offer here. More on that humongous release in due course...!