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Summoning’s Dol Guldur is perhaps the best album to ever come out of Austria. The music, for once, doesn’t center on being good, ass-kicking, mind-blowing music. Instead feelings, emotions and stories are being projected at us from what seems like a long gone time. Not that the music isn’t that good, I just wanted to point out that Summoning goes deeper, they play with more parts of our heads than just the ears. The eloquent, solemn and sombre keys and the repeated tremolo chords on the guitar build the musical foundation.
Sometimes other elements, such as flutes, are put into the mix but the foundation’s always there. It’s a sort of minimalism I guess, but a very expressive one. Summoning has always been known as a Tolkien metal band, and hey, they’re the best. No other band can portray Khazad Dúm, Kôr or the smithy of Angband as accurately as Summoning does. Dol Guldur was a man stronghold that got repeatedly invaded and used by the darker forces. Sauron abided and recovered there. As when reading the books one is moved far away. Tolkien’s supreme grasp of language speaks straight to the heart. As do Summoning. Ever-present is a longing, a dreary wanting of something else. The atmosphere provides mourning, emptiness. It can very well be the extreme emptiness a soldier experiences after a battle, victorious or not. The kind of emptiness one get after a constant rush of adrenaline, putting one’s compassion aside, keeping every thought of the head, focusing on moving, fending off, repeating it over and over again more as a reflex than deliberate action. It’s the same emptiness that we’ve all experienced. The emptiness is the brain’s response to something that’s just impossible to take in, that it’s incapable of handling – sudden losses for example. And they put it all down in notes…
Yes, Summoning strikes deeper and more profound than anyone else, making a gateway, communicating straight to your senses, your memories – your emotions. If they didn’t, the guitars or the steady drums (made by a drum machine) and the way everything echoes, wouldn’t have been as mesmerizing, as fascinating. The long songs wouldn’t have appeared as short as they do now. One would have spotted the repetitiousness of it all. The hoarse and rapt vocals wouldn’t have seemed as natural as they do. While being great musicians those two Austrians could very well have had more actual skill with their instruments. Real drums would have added several new dimensions to it, just as varied guitars would have done. But I don’t know if it would’ve stayed as genuine if it got complex. The minimalism, with such great yet simplistic arrangements is perhaps the key.
Wyrmwater Glaurung is a real standout with its circularity, ringing bells and the sweeping, sucking keyboards. It’s such a sprawling song. Playful. As the other songs are so heavy and gloomy, it makes a nice break. Dol Guldur is an essential album; everyone should be obligated to have it.