Summoning are, for me at least, a band that took a lot of time to get into. I "re-discovered" their sound recently (although more accurately, I made myself listen to more than fifteen seconds) and discovered that I actually like the way they sound. An acquired taste, by anyone's standard, and commonly accepted to be so, but nonetheless, after a few listens, I was thoroughly enjoying it.
My main turn-off, at first, was that the synth sounded quite fundamentally artificial. I'm not sure what's changed in my mind since then, but I'm certainly embracing it now - I find myself more and more tolerant of "artificial" elements in music - as I was first getting into metal, I stigmatised keyboards in my mind, but then became open to them. Drum machines are also much more acceptable to me now, which is probably just as well, because Summoning's drumming is very much in line with there synth. Nonetheless, the somewhat synthesised aspect of roughly half of Summoning's whole sound is forgivable in light of what turns out to be one of the most epic soundscapes I've heard fresh in a long time. The overwhelming medieval sound, founded upon the synth, and to an extent, the drum sound is carried along by a humble, fairly unobtrusive guitar sound, and echoey harsh vocals. It's clear that the synth is the emphasised part of the music, and although it wouldn't be complete without the guitar, it certainly leads the charge. I've always had a soft-spot for epic music, and that's certainly present in Minas Morgul - all of the splendour of the synth is combined with the earthy guitar to create an epic but wholesome vibe not unlike (but neither quite similar to) viking-era Bathory... and you know how I feel about Bathory.
The music certainly has a vast feel, especially with the harsh vocals, which make it seem even more ethereal, and the tremolo patterns used go down epic, beautiful pathways, as opposed to the devilish ones which black-metal tends towards. The style the band play on this album seems astonishing grandiose, and in addition to the music sounding excellent, it's really tightly played, and the lengths of the songs allows them to be reasonably elaborate, albeit in the enjoyable hypnotically repetitive black-metal sense of the term. In my taste in metal, it turns out, rather pleasingly, that summoning is somewhat close to "optimum". I'm not sure what I'd have said of the band a few years, even months ago, but I certainly "get" the style they play now. While the music may initially appear flowery, and don't get me wrong, in many places it is, to an extent, beyond this initial impression actually lurks a fantastically enjoyable sound, which I missed out on for much too long.
It's was quite a trick album to take-in in one go, but ultimately, I can certainly see this, and many of Summoning's albums becoming long-term favourites of mine - It feels like the power of it will last for a long time, and well, I may have not done it justice in my inept qualification of what it sounds like and how I feel about it, but listen to it. It'll tell you what I fail to.
I'm giving this an 8/10, and I think that's before I factor in the fact that it'll probably grow on me.
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Summoning on Metal Archives