Ambient black metal that wanders through a groove of diffusion like a dancer underwater.


Production: Gritty and toneful.

Review: Immersed in the metaphor of lost journeys through ancient kingdoms, Summoning cut their first album from the fullest weave of black metal possible, invoking the riff constructions and harmonies of the genre while adding in song structure and aesthetics a sense of suspension in liquid space while action occurs continuously surrounding the perspective of the listener.

Fast and protean riffs mingle with more traditional mid-tempo black metal rhythmic work as songs move from the clear and simple into the obscure, mixing progressions of cyclic power chord phrases with interludes and breaks to create organic structure that enwraps central concepts like shadows of an opening riff. Seamless descent into the darkness of existence between spaces of melody previously entered whisks with it moods of anger and alienation, a darkness uniting them with the depths of its infinite lack. Drumming follows a patterning of understated black metal or techno percussion, rattling through high energy paces within a more contemplative balance.


1. Grey heavens
2. Beyond bloodred horizons
3. Flight of the Nazgul
4. Where winters forever cry
5. Through the valley of the frozen kingdom
6. Raising with the battle-orcs
7. Master of the old lure
8. Between light and darkness
9. The eternal lands of fire
10. Dragons of time
11. Moondance
Length: 50:46

summoning lugburz 1995 napalm
Copyright © 1995 Napalm

In the traditional overdriven high pitched shriek of black metal, vocalist Silenius pares the aerodynamics of phrase and interjects combinations which serve as understudy to structural cues should they be missed by the listener. While no element of this work steps beyond standard black metal technique, the creativity present achieves reasonable believability to the degree that the evolutions of style to come later from this band are unsurprising. Strains of strings and vocals merge in distortion as percussion intrudes in a vortex of groundcover that like the roots of plants holds together its medium with gnarled, intricate, hierarchical vascular systems.

Where most metal either makes a point or describes one being made, Summoning even at this early stage aims like Burzum or I Shalt Become for submergence within the point itself, a reality that is self-defining and self-sustaining, perhaps a relic of an industrial age youth or existential logic itself. Its victory however is the suspension of the outside world for an immersive, simplistic and youthful but wisely hopeful and bravely creative world of its own.

Dol Guldur
Napalm Records

Production: Perfectly clear across multiple instruments with extremely able mixing; in short, excellent and well-adapted to the individual demands of this band.

Review: The Vangelis of modern black metal, Summoning produce slow and melodic ambient black metal that is more soundtrack than direct assault as most of these bands are, a welcome change. Their melodies are based around a complexity rooted in the classical style but adapted through the shifting phrasing of show tunes and rock n roll, producing a welcoming but bizarrely ornate and archaic aesthetic out of familiar musical styles.


1. Angbands Schmieden
2. Nightshade Forests
3. Elfstone
4. Khazad Dum
5. Kor
6. Wyrmvater Glaurung
7. Unto a long glory...
8. Over old hills
Length: 68:49

summoning dol guldur an epic black metal album from austria on napalm records
Copyright © 1997 Napalm

What pulls this band together is the melody that underlies each song, a method of anchoring compositional elements more common to classical music than the harmonic basis of rock n roll, with a driving complexity of percussive interaction beneath it. Fast strumming holds chords in synchronization with overall syncopated rhythms and allows the tremelo to bring forth the qualities of each chord that bring forth their melodic relation to their counterparts in never-static beauty. Over this wall of surprisingly mellow sound keyboards in the tightly punctual style of later Enslaved hold down a thematic development that allows a circular but expanding composition to these songs.

Black-throated dry retching vocals seem jarring at first in this context but their usage is expertly controlled by a singer who stretches his notes to fall in the middle of the harmonics of his band with either accentuation of continuity or vaguely dissonant and often beautiful contrast. A good word to describe the result, aesthetically, might be "goofy" but the musicality behind it is distinctive and worthy of appreciation.

Production: The lush and dominating swoon of merging sound that is their trademark expanded to atmospheric heights.

Review: Through free fall between the abstract and the visceral, Summoning change their widely appreciated format of ambient Tolkein wander metal into a cavernous but deeply abstracted melodic ambience in which harmony becomes a matter of changing directions, an ambiguous and empty space which conventionally is used to indicate finality.

In its overall sensation, this album forms a more rock-n-roll version of the style suggested by Burzum's "Filosofem" with its multitudinous layers of budget melodies, using a Darkthrone-inspired minimalism in complementing riffs to move each track through a series of thematic loops of melody and rhythm. The almost tropical feel to percussion returns from the "Nightshade Forest" EP, with loose bass and tom keeping a consistent beat under high-hat, cymbal and roll varied for reflective emphasis.

The voice of silent demise spreads this music like smoke through trees, settling gently in the spaces it constantly reveals, overwhelming other sensation in the infinite imagination it uncovers by revealing the meaninglessness of the material. Leaving home, diving through clouds, abandoning Saigon... there is a sense of journey beginning in these mostly consonant, pastoral ballads disguised in black metal vocals and the intricate rhythm leads of Sentenced, Unleashed or Nocturnus.


1. Rhun
2. Long Lost to Where No Pathway Goes
3. The Glory Disappears
4. Like Some Snow-white Marbles Eyes
5. Where Hope and Daylight Die
6. The Rotting Horse on the Deadly Ground
7. The Shadow Lies Frozen on the Hills
8. The Loud Music of the Sky
9. A Distant Flame Before the Sun
Length: 64:27

stronghold by summoning on napalm records
Copyright © 1999 Napalm

Expect highly rhythmic, melodic music with harsh vocals stretched into freely associating epic songs of the abyss. At its core relentlessly organic and renewing, this album ventures into the emotional and the nihilistic with equal ability and makes a top-notch metal listening experience. If you are unafraid of its drifting ambiguity and dark embrace of the world of fantasy and exploration, this neoclassical rock opera will inspire your creativity and hope.

This band execute well and with great inspiration their intended wanderlust music but incur the risk of becoming, in their tendency toward relying on rock-n-roll-isms to define loose edges in their composition, another overblown saga in a world of pretensional melodrama. Similar to inevitable hero Quorthon, they are playing in the realm of high intensity with a fundamental weakness that indicates a potential future breakdown.

In the current age however Summoning leads blackmetal with a Burzum- and Graveland-inspired melodic intensity that no other band has replicated, and here brings poetic focus toward the emptiness of wanderlust with a regal ambience and enduring beauty.

Oath Bound

Production: Crisp and roomy.

Review: At a time when black metal has for the most part left the dangerous terrain it discovered and relapsed into the same rhythm and slight harmony music that dominates the mainstream airwaves, Summoning have returned to the attack by favoring subtlety over synchronized drama. Where black metal has since 1996 veered toward a modernist conception of music, where disparate voices fuse into convenient singularity and maintain a product-oriented consistency and convenience, the latest Summoning album is a work of art that cherishes its ambiguity like a place for travelers to wander.

The previous two Summoning albums, like journeymates Graveland, tried to find a medieval sound that could work by unifying guitars and keyboards and drums into a happy, rock 'n roll harmony; while these were not bad, they fell short of what made the older albums great. Although nearly invisible to an outsider, what has happened on "Oath Bound" is nothing short of a reactionary revolution: the band has returned to its medievalist aesthetic, in which different instruments stay slightly at odds with each other and drift between partial harmony and incomplete dissonance, and through this choice has re-awakened its sense of epic.


1. Bauglir
2. Across The Streaming Tide
3. Mirdautas Vras
4. Might And Glory
5. Beleriand
6. Northward
7. Menegroth
8. Land Of The Dead
Length: 69:10

Summoning - Oath Bound 2006 Napalm Records
Copyright © 2006 Napalm

Black metal has often been described as the better aspects of death metal crossed with Dead Can Dance, and only Graveland and Summoning remain to plumb that territory, with remarkably similar results: when they get too close to the texture of soundtracks, which being designed as support for visual entertainment are product-oriented and consistent like mail-order wallpaper, they turn into repetitive and meaningless music that is all appearance and no content. Much as Graveland is starting to liberate itself, Summoning has begun a re-exploration of the chaotic and naturalistic nature of black metal, and as such is no longer trying to make a consistent feeling but a varied, journeylike experience for adventures of the mind.

The introduction to this album resembles something by Penitent or another gothic band, with a keyboard melody repeated over a background drum texture; eventually chanting voices in the echoes of forgotten tombs also intrude, but not before the basic pattern of this album is established. Each song begins with a theme which has a countertheme that ends a pair of phrases, and the two are then concluded by a summary motif; this repeats several times and then leads into a second pair of themes which play off the summary motif, and these go through several permutations - including interventions by rhythmic interludes or silences - before returning to the original theme or concluding abruptly in discontinuity.

Guitars find a language that is both everything that black metal achieved, and expansive toward a larger vocabulary of music, using open strumming more consistently than any metal album in recent history, to which they add fast synchronistic strumming, sweep-picking and inventive downstrum fills. Keyboards are not an echo but a complement to the primary string instrumentals, and drums have faded Kraftwerk-style into a smattering of enigmatic patterns repeated like a tapestry behind the shifting landscape of music. Although the aesthetics and melodic compositional style of this band are together so distinct as to appear recombinant from a distance, this album delivers a new chapter of full-bore dark exploration that dominates almost anything from the last ten years of this genre.

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