Summoning - Stronghold Review
Original Author: LanceB
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Lyrical Themes: Tolkien
2. Long Lost to Where No Pathway Goes
3. The Glory Disappears
4. Like Some Snow-White Marble 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
The best way to describe the feel and sound of this album is spacious and majestic. “Epic” is really is what this album is setting out to accomplish and it achieves it extraordinarily well. A prevalent atmosphere is present throughout the entire hour of music. The drums for example have a very audible reverb which really extends the sound and makes it seem larger and not recorded in some studio. I personally feel that when I listen to each song that I'm somewhere out in nature and not in a building or house.
Summoning derived many if not all of their lyrics and themes from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Mainly from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Stronghold’s lyrics on the other hand were adapted from Tolkien’s poems, but still resemble the style of his other works. It is easy to see the apparent influence that these lyrics have injected into the music. If you have ever seen the Lord of the Rings movies you are already aware of the gigantic battle scenes and grandiose scale of things that they paint in the films. Summoning has expanded that ideal and created a musical landscape that when accented with the lyrics is easy to visualize.
Track 2: Long Lost to Where no Pathway Goes (fan made video)
Perfect example of describing vast open spaces. Places that man wouldn't travel too.
There the twain enfolded,
Phantom twilight, phantom twilight,
And dim the mazes dark, unholy,
I would never find the burning domes and sands
Where reigns the sun, nor dare the snows
Nor seek in mountains dark, the landscapes of the men
Long lost to whom no pathway goes
Track 6: The Rotting Horse on the Deadly Ground
You can really feel the lyrics in this track. Between the blast beats and galloping palm mutes of the guitars you really get a sense of a horse running and the repetitive motion that it makes.
Take a ride on, ride on,
on your rotting horse
on that deadly ground
Take a ride, ride on,
on your rotting horse
with a pounding sound.
Track 8: The Loud Music Of The Sky
This is one of my favorite tracks it starts off with a a simple keyboard melody and in kicks a very rhythmic drum pattern. These lyrics really demonstrate Summoning's great descriptions.
What I am, I must not show
What I am thou could (not know)
Something between heaven and hell
Something that neither stood nor fell
Something that through thy wit or will
May work thee good, may work thee ill
Neither substance quite, nor shadow
Haunting lonely moor and meadow
Dancing by the haunted spring
Riding on the whirlwinds wing
The thunder's noise is our delight
And lightning makes us day by night
And in the air we dance on high
To the loud music of the sky
Most of the vocals are standard Black Metal affair, raspy and often growling. Although they are easily discernible; (but if they are not Summoning posts all there lyrics online). Protector’s vocals accent the music well and connect the instruments together. Because of this the vocals might not bother one too much if the style is disliked. I happen to really enjoy this vocal style so it sounds great to me. A guest vocalist named Tania appears on the track Where Hope and Daylight Die. She has a voice I find similar to Tarja of Nightwish. Definitely a different mood is achieved by her voice; very somber. It fits nicely in the middle of the cd.
The guitars conveys the majestic mood very well, but if you are looking for crazy behind the back elbow sweeps stay far away from this . You will also not find any sort of guitar solo present in any of the songs. The guitar work is completely rhythm based. A great portion of the passages are tremolo picked and or chord based. Opposed to the guitars the keyboards have an airy floating feel that often would rise above the sound, but the edge of the guitars give a solid base which nicely offsets that airiness and keeps each track grounded.
Final Score and Overview
My Final Rating 95/100
From the opening snare of the first track Khûn I knew this was going to be one of my all time favorites and to this day it still stands in my top five. Like a great book Stronghold can take you far and away to another place. It truly conveys emotion in music. Each track just builds upon the last one and creates an adventure through sound. I personally strive to find this emotion within music and Stronghold really delivers. Hopefully this review sparked some interest in Summoning and some of you will check it out and enjoy it as much as I do!
Thanks to The Uncreator for the general review layout. It helped out to get the ball rolling which is often tough in writing.