BLOOD AXIS & IN GOWAN RING - Witch-Hunt : The Rites of Samhain

"Witch-Hunt: The Rites of Samhain" was one of two highly interesting items spectators of Blood Axis and In Gowan Ring concerts in Portugal during October 2001 had the lucky opportunity to obtain. The other one included five Blood Axis-Songs that had been remixed in Surround-Sound quality. Both records were strictly limited and were sold exclusively on the occasion of these Portugese concerts.
"Witch-Hunt: The Rites of Samhain" consists of a live section played by In Gowan Ring with the support of Blood Axis' members Michael Moynihan and Annabel Lee and three studio tracks. The live pieces had been recorded some years ago in the woods of the northwest USA at a concert under the name "Witch-Hunt" on Samhain (=Halloween). In the accompanying booklet, Annabel Lee describes the event as follows:
"At nightfall, an elaborate ritual took place outside in the cold and rainy forest air: the participants traveled to the underworld which they entered through a blazing arched gate, after first having been anointed with oil of deadly nightshade for passage and protection by the guardian of the gate. A beautiful corpse was unburied and brought back to life, demons were invoked, oaths were made and sacrifices presented to realm of the underworld. (...) For this performance, Witch-Hunt played traditional songs from the British Isles and Scandinavia, and original music from Blood Axis, In Gowan Ring, and Waldteufel. All of the music was chosen to celebrate the ancient rites of Samhain. The songs were lovely little melodies of murder, necromancy, infanticide, executions, and the affairs of the realm beyond the living."
Though the live recording that, according to Lee, wasn't actually intended for release doesn't fully live up to this vivid description it succeeds in capturing some spirit of the event. Sound quality is rough troughout the recording and crowd noises are hard to overhear. But still, the performance remains very charming and intense. After a short introduction follows the passionate I am stretched on your grave which already is one of this record's high-lights among Two Magicans that bears a strong resemblance to Current 93's Oh Coal-black Smith and a wonderful performance of the exceptionally beautiful Rolling of the Stones that originally appeared on the Pact of the Gods -Compilation. The live section is rounded up with a short witty piece entitled The black one with Harold Mcneill sounding a lot like Tibet hissing and howling excessively apocalyptic phrases and a whole lot of giggling and laughter from the audience.
The studio tracks consist of the afore-mentioned Rolling of the Stones, Blood Axis' The March of Brian Boru and the formerly unreleased Follow me up to Carlow. This is quite a powerful hymn most likely to please the Blood Axis fan community and yet another adaption of a famous Irsih traditional written by Patrick Joseph McCall (1861-1919). This song's tune is said to have been played by the pipers of Feach MacHugh O'Byrne when he marched against Carlow after he defeated the forces of the Crown in 1580.
On the Blood Axis homepage one can find the note that at least "portions of this material" from the no-longer-available item are likely to be rereleased soon.

Dirk A.
Autumn 2002