Song of the Day: Misty Mountains from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


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This weekend sees the release of Peter Jackson’s long-awaited first film in The Hobbit trilogy. With news of a new Peter Jackson adaptation of a Tolkien source material there will also be news of the return of film composer Howard Shore back to the musical legacy that is the Middle-Earth film franchise. The latest “Song of the Day” comes from the soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the track I chose has already become the most recognizable theme in this first film of the latest trilogy.

“Misty Mountains” was composed by Plan 9 and David Long and was sung by Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and his company of Darf Companions as they spend a quiet time in Bilbo Baggins’ home the night before they set out on their quest to destroy Smaug and retake their ancestral kingdom of Erebor in the Lonely Mountain to the far east of the Shire. Every Peter Jackson entry to the Middle-Earth saga has always had the cast sing one or two songs which comes straight out of the many songs created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his novels, short stories and appendices.

This song almost describes the past and future of Thorin Oakenshield as it describes in prose the destruction of his home of Erebor in the hands of Smaug the Dragon, but it could also describe a future event him and his company of Dwarfs (and one hobbit) must defeat as part of the climax of this first part of the new trilogy. The song is just a very well made one and very memorable. So memorable that there’s already reports of people who have returned for repeat viewings of the film joining in the singing of the song when it appears on the screen. While I wouldn’t want my experience interrupted by some in the audience trying their best to sound just as good singing in a deep tenor as Richard Armitage I can’t blame some of these fans for their love and enthusiasm for the song.

Misty Mountains

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away ere break of day,
To find our long-forgotten gold.

The pines were roaring on the heights,
The winds were moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light.

Review: Blut aus Nord – 777 Cosmosophy


Blut aus Nord generated a lot of waves in the metal scene last April when they released Sect(s), the first installment in their 777 trilogy. The album was a gripping ride through a vivid musical nightmare, merging industrial music and a particularly demented take on black metal to paint its demon-ridden post-apocalyptic landscapes. The Desanctification, released in last November, flew much lower under the radar. Lacking all of Sect(s)’s shock value, it was a more contemplative plod which capitalized on the industrial side of their 777 sound and presented the devastation inflicted first-hand on Sect(s) from a less intimate angle. If the listener was the victim on Sect(s), Desanctification offered the role of witness.

Cosmosophy, the final installment in the 777 trilogy, was released this September, and a lot hinged on it. Sect(s) and The Desanctification were drastically different and yet inseparable, the second naturally flowing from the first. How did Blut aus Nord intend to bring it all to an end?

In the very last way anyone could have ever expected: They repeated the exact same thing they did on The Desanctification. It’s a brooding, visually stunning bird’s-eye view of a cyberpunk holocaust, and as such it’s just as outstanding as its predecessor. But where is it going?

If Blut aus Nord released two albums like this every year they might well become my favorite band. I’ve been dying for this kind of material, and The Desanctification and Cosmosophy both fill that niche with a degree of excellence that surpasses all other attempts I have heard. But I guess for me the 777 series was telling a story, vague though it need necessarily be, and Cosmosophy just kind of waves that off. It’s an outstanding album in its own right, but it does not feel appropriate in the context of the trilogy.

Epitome XVII and XVIII are somewhat of an exception,and they’re the tracks I’ll be sampling here. XVII has a definite sense of conclusion about it. It’s not an optimistic one, especially given the lyrics–“How many seasons beyond this sacred life? How many treasons beyond this clever lie?” But the feeling is one of profound revelation, as if the listener in this nearly wordless narrative has finally come to see the grand vision we were all hoping Cosmosophy would offer. The transition that spans from about 4:20 to 6:20 is pensive, serving to reintroduce the darkness that resolution has by no means abated. As this fades and we reach the final track in the trilogy, you can definitely see the story coming to an end:

Epitome XVIII is one of the finest of those bird’s-eye perspectives on the greater 777 landscape, and in its context it offers something of a new, esoteric light on the devastation below. The outro that begins to fade in after the 7 minute mark is the perfect conclusion and perhaps the darkest moment in the entire trilogy, epic in its silence. Of Cosmosophy’s two concluding tracks I have no complaints. It’s the first three that get us there that leave a lot to be desired.

If you care to revisit The Desanctification, it ends on a completely twisted industrial groove that offers all of the madness of Sect(s) without any of the fear–a sense that the subject (the listener) is breaking down into utter insanity, becoming a part of the surrounding chaos. I desperately wanted Cosmosophy to pick up on this note. I wanted to hear a merging of Sect(s)’s black metal and Desanctification’s industrial that, if you’ll humor my manner of description, merged the victim and the witness into one. I expected a juxtaposition of the sweeping landscapes and the frantic madness that could, in the context of the trilogy, depict a sort of out of body experience in the subject/listener. Epitome XIV and XVI instead feel like unused (though equal) tracks from Desanctification, while XV offers three minutes of obnoxiously spoken French which quite frankly fails to invoke anything but annoyance before plunging into an outstanding but compromised semi-operatic sweep that could have found a place on the album but lacks appropriate context as presented.

Epitome XV is the only track I dislike in the trilogy, while XIV and XVI seem out of order. In the meantime, I feel like an essential step between Desanctification’s XIII and Cosmosophy’s XVII is missing. In short, Cosmosophy does not live up to my ridiculously high expectations. If Blut aus Nord were to come out with a surprise Part 4, I certainly would not deem it overkill. But if we view Cosmosophy as just another 2012 metal album there is hardly room to complain. It is only in light of the standard set by Sect(s) and The Desanctification, and in expectation that the conclusion ought to be the 777 trilogy’s finest hour, that it slightly disappoints.