Summoning - _Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame_
(Napalm, 2001)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
I had a really bad reaction to the Napalm sticker that sat atop the front cover screaming about the fact that the music inside was heavily inspired by Tolkien's literary work. Some of us already knew Summoning were a Tolkien-inspired project, but even those who didn't would probably get a hint from the oft-repeated "in the darkness... bind them" sample in the somewhat annoying "In Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" -- unless they couldn't care less about Tolkien to begin with. Yet Tolkien is an increasingly fashionable name, so I wasn't surprised to see Napalm trying to cash in, just displeased that Summoning's aura was damaged so carelessly. Overall, the music on _Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame_ takes me on a journey to strange luxuriant forests and imposing castles beneath bright sunlight, where a somewhat warlike atmosphere resides. It completely fails to take me to the dark mountains, mysterious impenetrable forests or unspeakably grim fortresses its predecessor _Stronghold_ painted so vividly, however. This change is quite aptly described by the difference in album titles, in any case: _Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame_ is much more obviously Tolkien-inspired than _Stronghold_, which was in my opinion the darkest album Summoning ever released (their debut is hardly part of the equation here). Even though the artificial drums sound as thunderous as before, the guitar sound is weaker on _LMHSYF_ and the keyboard approach is somewhat different -- at times perhaps more akin to their earlier work. _LMHSYF_ is majestic, multi-layered, atmospheric and impressive overall, but lacks much of the sombre, doomy, towering feel of _Stronghold_. I have little doubt that this was the whole purpose behind _LMHSYF_, but much as I can enjoy the record, I am unable to appreciate it as much as _Stronghold_. Despite tracks such as "South Away", "Our Foes Shall Fall" and "Farewell", the songs tend to seem somewhat inconsequential compared to the intensity of _Stronghold_. A superb and highly atmospheric album, but unfortunately one that stirs comparatively little in me after _Stronghold_.

(article published 14/1/2002)

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