Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summoning - Stronghold

Genre: Epic Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: Austria
Year: 1999
Label: Napalm Records

Summoning are one of my all-time favourite bands. That being the case, it will be difficult for me to review any of their material because I could never possibly come anywhere close to doing any of it justice. On the other hand, pretty much anyone following this blog is already a fan of the band so it's really of little consequence. But, on the off chance any of you have had the legendary Austrian duo on your "to listen" list but never got around to it, I'm going to post a handful of their albums so that you can discover them for yourself. First thing's first - there is no other band like Summoning. Sure, there are bands that work very hard at emulating their style, but nothing quite ends up producing the same effect. They are truly unique, and I deeply respect them for having forged their own niche in the music world in the way they have. The key component to Summoning's music is atmosphere. Vast, sprawling soundscapes that are unfathomably huge are depicted by shimmering arpeggios and lilting tremolo melodies overlayed with beautiful symphonic arrangements and their trademark percussion section. Instead of using a standard metal drumkit, Protector and Silenius employ a combination of programmed war-drums and tambourine to drive the music, and the effect is fantastic, painting in the mind's eye panoramic scenes of armies marching to distant mist-shrouded realms and ancient arcane citadels perched atop storm-robed mountains... well, you get the idea. Basically, each and every one of their albums is a masterpiece that is a world unto itself, taking the listener on unforgettable journeys that only Summoning can provide. Stronghold is definitely one of my favourite albums of theirs, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the majestic Oath Bound. It is one of their darker albums, and contains some of their most memorable songs. I feel like it is a great way to get familiar with the band, as it incorporates a very balanced palette of the elements of their music and provides a very good idea of what the band is all about. Summoning has, simply put, redefined the word 'epic' in a musical context. Beautiful, riveting, breathtaking, and mandatory.

For fans of Elffor, Nazgûl, and Sear Bliss.

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