Messages From Mordor
An Interview with Silenius Gregor of Summoning
by: Henry Akeley
A two-man project based in Austria, Summoning masterfully combine elements of black metal with layered, epic synthesizers and haunting medieval atmospheres, creating beautifully crafted, highly imaginative music that sounds like nothing else around. The band emerged in 1995 with _Lugburz_, an exercise in raw, Abigor-styled black metal featuring some interestingly different and enjoyable songs. Follow-up _Minas Morgul_, also released in 1995, announced a departure from straight black metal in favor of bold atmospheric experimentation which retains a definite blackened feel. Tracks like "Ungolianth", "Dagor Bragollach", and "The Legend of the Master Ring" are wonderfully weird, evocative sonic constructions that push black metal into new creative dimensions and make for highly interesting, enjoyable listening. The same goes for the band's third full-length, _Dol Guldur_, released near the end of 1996. This album tones down the weirdness just a bit, while deepening the emphasis on craftsmanship - constantly, carefully weaving multiple musical strands into spellbinding braids of sound. Silenius Gregor, a member of Abigor and the counterpart of Protector in Summoning, recently put pen to paper to answer some questions about the band.

CoC: As a long-time fan of _The Lord of the Rings_, I have been glad to see the influence which Tolkien's profound imagination has on many in the black metal scene. Why is Tolkien such a huge influence for Summoning?

Silenius Gregor: The thing that makes the works of Tolkien special is his incredible imagination of a world with all those detailed cultures, landscapes, and languages. His history of Middle Earth, his tales and stories are timeless and unique. This act of creation of a mind-world is absolutely unique and far above the average kind of thinking. When I was about 15 or 16, I got in contact with his literature for the first time. At first, I didn't want to read _The Lord of the Rings_, because a friend of mine had already told me the complete story, but then I gave it a try. In that time, I often walked through the countryside where I lived, and sometimes I took one of his books with me, reading it while sitting under a tree and letting the wind blow through my hair. For sure, that was an astonishing feeling, because it's something totally different, to read a book like _The Lord of the Rings_ within the twilight of a forest, rather than at home in your bed.

CoC: Will you continue to base your lyrics and imagery on Tolkien's Middle Earth? Or perhaps one day use your music to fashion your own imaginary world?

SG: We will end the Tolkien concept after releasing the mini-CD _Nightshade Forests_. This CD will probably be released in two or three months. Afterwards, we probably will make a musical translation of the Germanic hero opus "Das Nibelungenlied", but nothing is sure yet. What is sure is that we won't build up our own imaginary world. Our strength is making music, nothing else.

CoC: How do you see the band progressing musically?

SG: Well, first of all I must say that I hate the word "progressive." Most bands think that they are progressive by putting fifteen or more riffs into a song and changing the rhythm all the time, or playing solos that hurt the ears. Summoning is definitely not progressive, nor do we have any plans to change our style with the next release. The music that softly floats into the mind of a listener with atmosphere and emotion and this special sort of ancient touch - that's all.

CoC: Is a new release yet planned? If so, what can you tell us about it?

SG: We have made one new song that will appear on the mini-CD. The other three songs will be from the _Dol Guldur_ sessions. All four songs are much more melancholic than on _Dol Guldur_, with more easily impressing melody lines, and less in the way of meditation as on _Dol Guldur_. Afterwards, we will take a break and think over how Summoning will continue. The rest of the year, I will concentrate on my ritual project, Mirkwood.

CoC: Besides Tolkien, what are the biggest influences on your sound? (Musical or otherwise.)

SG: Well, I get musical influences by listening to other music, of course, especially dark wave and ritual stuff. This kind of music is good for meditation, and meditation always gives us strength of motivation and creativity. Another inspiration is reading books. Mostly I prefer the fantasy genre, but lately not many books have impressed me that much. The last really good and original book I've read was _The Worm Oroboros_. Even Tolkien was a fan of that book. Finally, I find strength and inspiration in wandering through the countryside. Unfortunately, I have too little time now for doing so.

CoC: What do you listen to when you're not making music? (I believe I read somewhere that one of you is a fellow fan of Ildjarn.)

SG: As I said, I only listen to dark wave and ritual stuff at the moment, like the releases from Cold Meat Industry, or things like that. Of course, I still listen to black metal music, although the latest releases in this genre are, all in all, boring. The latest essential release, for sure, was Limbonic Art. Within twenty releases there is just one or two good enough to enjoy. About Ildjarn: if you hear the music of Ildjarn in an objective way, it's without doubt pure shit. But I like this shit. I'll die for it! [Exactly! -- Steve]

CoC: Please name three or four albums from the past year or so which you would consider essential.

SG: (1) Sopor Aeturnus - _Todeswunsch_, (2) Loreena McKennit - _The Mask and the Mirror_, (3) Ildjarn/Niddhogg - _Svartfrad_, (4) Shinjuku Thief - The Witchhammer, (5) Shinjuku Thief - _The Witchhunter_, (6) Raison d'etre - _Within the Depth of Sorrow_, (7) Deutsch Nepal - _Benevolence_, (8) Loreena McKennit - _The Visit_.

CoC: What does black metal represent to you? Must true black metal be overtly Satanic? Must it always involve playing extremely fast? (I would say no to both questions, but I am curious to see if you agree.)

SG: Well, I'm unable to give or present you a definition between true or false. These terms have different meanings to different persons, and meanwhile I'm tired of discussing again and again the combination of black metal and the individual life codex. Everything depends upon one's personality. But to make it easier for you, I'll give you a short example. When you wake up in the morning and realize that the morning sun is hurting your eyes and heavily playing with your nerves, you know you are on the right way. Now it's time to find and build up yourself.

CoC: Your music has undergone incredible development since the _Lugburz_ days. Do you still consider Summoning to be a black metal band? Or do you think that you have evolved into a band that no longer fits into that category?

SG: After everything, I still see Summoning as a black metal band. If people can't go along with that, they should create their individual definition and be happy with that.

CoC: In your opinion, what are the best and the worst things about the underground metal scene today?

SG: The good thing about the present underground is that many young bands are flexible enough to make new musical experiments and create their own style. The bad thing is that many more bands have absolutely no idea what they are doing, and just clone and copy and copy and clone and...

CoC: Please tell us about the animated video. Which song is it for? Who did the animation? What kind of story line is there (if any)? Also, how can I get a copy?!

SG: The video clip is made in England for the song "Marching Homewards". As we, the band, didn't take part in this video, I can't tell you what it is like. After all, there will be impressions of Tolkien's world like Orcs, the Dark Tower, and things like that. But as I haven't seen anything yet, I'm as curious as everyone else who likes this kind of stuff. I really hope that I won't be too disappointed. But all in all, I'm optimistic, at least I hope so.

CoC: If you could be born again during any past period of human history, what period would you choose, and why?

SG: Most of the black metal kiddies of today would immediately answer that they would like to live in the Middle Ages - but how long would they survive with no pump gun at hand? After all, we are used to surviving in the present reality. That's the way it is, and if it's too unbearable, we flee into our underworlds. That's our destiny.

CoC: In the end, how would you like Summoning to be remembered?

SG: I think people who liked our music will know how to remember it.

(article submitted 16/3/1997)

5/24/2005 Q Kalis Summoning: Middle Earth Musings
3/26/2006 J Montague 9 Summoning - Oath Bound
1/14/2002 P Azevedo 8.5 Summoning - Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame
8/12/1999 A Wasylyk 9.5 Summoning - Stronghold
7/14/1997 S Hoeltzel 8.5 Summoning - Nightshade Forests
1/2/1997 S Hoeltzel 10 Summoning - Dol Guldur
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