SUMMONING is a band that should need no introduction. Legends of the black metal genre, not through some non-musical activities or claims to be more ‘occult’ or ‘true’ as many of their peers who aspire to that description attempt, but rather through their entirely unique approach to their music, which arguably transcends the genre entirely. Indeed they are a band that for the last few decades it could be argued have been more focused on creating music that fits their lyrical themes rather than the other way around.
Five long years have passed since their last release Old Mornings Dawn and for the first time in the band’s history they are no longer quite as unique, with bands such as CALADAN BROOD and EMYN MUIL having released records since then that capture the spirit SUMMONING had previously held the only claim too. Indeed the explosion of both atmospheric black metal and dungeon synth that has happened in the past five years means that there is clearly a huge appetite for the truly epic soundscapes that this style can create. The ground is fertile for the originators of the style to return and once again ascend to their throne.
In a manner perhaps fitting of a record that has taken half a decade of lacking inspiration and creative blocks to come to fruition the opening track, Tar-Calion lyrically deals with the story of the last king of Númenor, who’s rule lead to that kingdoms fall and the creation of Gondor and Arnor. The opening track has all of the traditional SUMMONING elements, heavily driven by its synths and spoken word passages with a pounding repetitive beat behind them. There is little in terms of guitar led music on offer here, with the instrument firmly in the background, something which changes in the second track Silvertine. While the keyboard the epic elements still dominate this track there is an underlying, and distinctly black metal, riff that forms the backbone, which when coupled with the snarled, distorted vocals leaves the listener in no doubt of the band’s origins.
This return to the influences of the band’s earlier days continues with Carcharoth, where the guitars and keyboards are balanced behind lyrics around the guardian of the Gates of Angband of the same name, a theme befitting a SUMMONING song. The track features both an exceptional central riff and perfectly executed use of the keys, which don’t overpower the riff but also managed to lead the track and which have several beautiful interludes throughout. One of the standout tracks of the album.
Herumor, dealing with one of the original Black Númenóreans who dwelt among the Haradrim is a surprisingly beautiful song given its subject matter. The keyboards on the track are truly inspired and showcase the best use of the choir-style clean vocals that have come to define the past few SUMMONING releases on this record. Barrow-downs is a short interlude before the next track Night Fell Behind kicks in. Guitar led and with traditionally black metal vocals, the song is again a nod to the early style of the band’s sound. The track encapsulates the band’s sound, epic without overreaching themselves and with just the right amount of melody from the various elements that create it, while not forgetting or foregoing the genre it originated from.
Following on from this Mirklands opens with a piano led passage, not dissimilar from some of the many ambient side projects that have emanated from the bands members over the years. It is a slightly slower paced track that focuses on atmosphere and uses its eleven minute length to great effect summoning visions of dark and mysterious forests. The album closes with the truly epic almost-title track With Doom I Come. As the longest track on the record, it manages to avoid the trap of listener exhaustion through taking a little from each of the elements of the style and allowing them to shine through individually at points during the songs length. Black metal vocals and riffs, keyboard and synth-led passages and the soaring clean chorus vocals are combined to great effect and the track leaves the record ending on a natural high point. One of the best closing tracks SUMMONING have ever managed.
SUMMONING are a difficult band to review. Their status as multi-genre spanning group that have their own distinct sound means that they can only really be compared to themselves, which is itself a difficult feat when their early work is held in such high regard for its experimentation as much as its incredible quality. With Doom We Come is perhaps best considered on its own merits, devoid of its complicated context. When this is done, what emerges is a work of art that surpasses the best effort many other bands put out containing all of the expected elements and quality that should be expected from this band. A worthy addition to SUMMONING‘s discography.
With Doom We Come is set for release on January 5th via Napalm Records.
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