Summoning - _Dol Guldur_
(Napalm Records, 1996)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
I have basically worshipped this band since last year's amazing _Minas Morgul_, in which Protector and Silenius (who is also in Abigor) abandoned the raw black metal of their debut and pioneered a unique, mesmerizing style of epic-ambient, blackened-medieval-metallic music. These guys weave together sonic tapestries in which it's impossible to tell where the gripping song leaves off and the enthralling soundscape begins. As on _Minas Morgul_, the writings of Tolkien provide the imaginative backdrop to the music, which is dominated by multiple layers of synthesizers and hard, mid-paced beats. Beefy and distorted guitar tones also take up a chunk of the mix, as do expressive and eerie black metal vocals. Like guitar and voice, the synths are quite organic in tone, usually approximating the sounds of distant, echoing horns or strings, yet with an unmistakably unearthly vibe. Carefully layered and beautifully produced, guitar, synth, and voice are anchored by programmed percussion that doesn't really sound canned, especially thanks to the frequent use of beats suggesting tribal ceremonies and military marches. On songs like the awesome "Khazad Dum", Summoning build layer upon layer in consecutive steps, so that what begins as a simple series of notes is embellished, bit by bit, with distinct series of cool, imaginative tones, until there are five, six, seven separate layers to the sound, all woven splendidly together. The music tends to be slow, with no fast parts at all, but the sound is so textured and rich that listening remains action-packed - especially if you let your imagination just go with the sonic flow. Check out the haunting melody line of "Kor", the chilling bells of "Wyrmvater Glaurung", the stirring "Nightshade Forests", and look for an eight-minute animated (!) video from the band soon. Highest recommendation.
(article published 1/2/1997)
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