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"Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul." This is the famous inscription of the One Ring, an artifact that appears as the central plot element in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". This inscription is included in the album's intro track "A New Power is Rising" and a new power is, indeed, rising. Summoning return in 2003 for the release of their fifth full-length album. Released four years after "Stronghold", Summoning reverts back to a similar sound we heard on "Dol Guldur" in a sense, but much more epic and heroic. "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame" is the title of this masterpiece of atmospheric black metal or maybe, at this point, I should just refer to them as "Tolkien metal". This is yet another installment into what should have been the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.
As I stated previously, this album in a way has more in common with "Dol Guldur" than the previous album "Stronghold". This is because the keyboards are once again the primary instrument, and the guitars serve more as a companion or follower to the synths. They are still more prominent in the mix than both "Minas Morgul" and "Dol Guldur", but unlike "Stronghold", they once again take a backseat so the keyboards can have more room to shine. The actual style of riffing is more melodic than previous efforts, which is fairly surprising, because Summoning has always incorporated a lot of melody into their guitars. They just seem to be preformed much better here and on this album, Summoning almost achieved the perfect balance between keyboard and guitar.
While the balance between the two instruments is indeed near flawless, the keyboards still do come out on top. Summoning is known for this. They take epic, soaring keyboards and accompany them with melodic, simple, repetitive guitars that are usually tremolo picked. "Ashen Cold" is perhaps the saddest sounding song on the album. It contrasts greatly with the more triumphant songs like "Runes of Power" and the battle-horn incorporating "Farewell". It isn't sad as in depressing. Instead, it is sad in a somber, "my brother has fallen in battle and I am mourning his death" way. The pace of the music throughout the album is, of course, slow. This is another trademark of Summoning. Songs like the epic "South Away" would make perfect soundtracks for just standing on top of a mountain and staring out over the landscape. In fact, when I was on leave after basic training, I spent a day out in the mountains and listened to this album while just admiring the landscape. It may seem silly to some people, but it truly is an experience.
"Our Foes Shall Fall ", "The Mountain King's Return", and "Ashen Cold" are three songs that contain samples, although there are definitely more. These seem to be derived from the Lord of the Rings radio series. Samples are used generously throughout this album and add quite a lot to the atmosphere. The vocals work as narration to the songs, creating stunning mental images of Middle-Earth. They are done in the traditional black metal style, however on the closing track "Farewell", we get a nice side serving of clean vocals. This choir singing is extremely operatic and really add variation to the already immense atmosphere.
An album with a astronomically heroic sound, "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame" is a near perfect album from Summoning. Three years after this release, they would release their crowning achievement, the absolutely perfect "Oath Bound". While LMHSYF does fall slightly short of being perfect, it is not too far off at all. This is a great album for any fan of black metal and Tolkien literature, or even just the LOTR books and movies, to have in their collection.
Summoning is an epic black metal band that hails from Austria and is immensely influenced by the works of J.R.R Tolkien. They are known for their mastery in the creation of magnificent melodies and for the use of a great variety of instrument sounds that create a very epic symphonic and also medieval feeling that is able to transport one to Middle Earth.
“Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame” is the 5º full-length album from this band and is one of their best. Summoning changes the way they approach music creation every time they make a new album but they are always able to keep the component in their songs that makes Summoning sound like Summoning and so this album is different from the others, less metallic and less focused on riffs than “Stronghold” but more powerful on the keyboards, for example.
Unlike the other albums released by this band, this one sounds like a heroic victory and yet, also like the beginning of something great, like a great quest as all the instruments create a very dense music that just seems to propel you through everything that might be between you and your goal, it fills you with pure strength and willpower and I think that this is what is so great about this album.
The album is driven mainly by the keyboards but the guitars and drums also have a very important role not only in creating a great part of the density of the songs but also with their melodies (yes, the drums have melodies). The mix of all these instruments creates instrumental perfection, both harmony and melody show extreme songwriting proficiency, and then the vocals, be it the more black metal vocals that are found throughout all the album or the vocal choir in the last song that is so filled with power that it never fails to impress me when it starts playing, fill that last part and make these songs the epitome of magically sounding music.
And so, all albums of Summoning are great but this one is one of the main reasons why they are the Austrian Masters and believe me, if you are ever going to read something that was wrote by Tolkien, put some Summoning playing in the background and you’re going to feel one of the most fantastic experiences ever.
It's actually quite rare that a band peaks later in their career. Sure, one would think that it would be the most common path as artists grow, but inevitably, as popularity increases, so does the temptation to streamline one's sound to appeal to a wider majority of people. Summoning were never really the kind of band that had to worry about that sort of thing, though- since their style is sort of built to garner a rabid cult fanbase that will buy exactly what they're selling coupled with the fact that they refrain from playing live shows and focus all of their free time composing music as a hobby instead allows for a much more natural evolution of style and technique. It is at the turn of the century that all of the elements at play for Summoning had been fully realized- the guitars had perfected their fluid, relaxed arpeggiated riff style, the keyboards had already long mastered the art of the entrancing, medieval narrative, and at long last, the right balance has been found and Summoning have come out with one of my favorite albums of all time.
Through all of metal's expression of the darker emotions: sorrow, loss, anger, hatred and misanthropy, one can often forget that even in some of man's most harrowing and terrifying battles, we sometimes emerge victorious. Sometimes, life can bring us that feeling of overwhelming satisfaction, the knowledge that life threw all the shit that it could at you and you fucking won. It gives you the strength and the passion it gives you to overcome any subsequent obstacle. Few metal albums can really capture that pure essence of victory, mostly because that essence is diluted by something else in the music. Black metal has this feeling to an extent, but it is arrived at via dwelling in the negatives and reviling in everything deemed sick and wrong in the world. Power metal can certainly create a euphoric fantasy that carries you away from yourself, but due to its inherent adherence to some rock tropes it stays rooted in fantasy. Folk metal is the same kind of thing- tied to the cultural land it attempts to portray. Summoning, however, is none of those three genres entirely. After four albums of preparing themselves for the battle, on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, it is as though Summoning has stumbled upon the music they always wanted to create for themselves. The title seems almost indicative of that- it is as if I must sing the absolute praises of this album and let the world know what it offers beyond not only other Summoning albums, but beyond most music.
There are a few metalheads who do not like, and probably will not ever like this album one bit: All I can really do is feel really sorry for them not being able to enjoy this, but, as I have done with most other albums in this review series, I tried comparing it to their past albums to try and see what made this album one of the more talked-about and to an extent polarizing releases. The one thing, at its core that really changed from this point on in was that the sense of urgency prevalent in the more metallic side of Summoning's sound has completely disappeared at this point. Usually, tension is built in tremolo, that's like the main feature of black metal, but the tremolo riff backing on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame don't string you along a rope, they lift you up into the sky. They're much more harmonious, perhaps one could say that they used a much "warmer" melodic style than they did even on their previous albums, and so for an outsider looking in this could be a really weird album in which the electronic/ambient musical influences in the album completely dominate. This is not to say that the riffs take a backseat- yes, they're obviously less of a feature than they were on Stronghold, but they're given as big a role in the music as anything else- the problem is, they are not overtly favored over the symphonics, and this might prove a hurdle for some to get into this time around. But oh, my, can they ever riff! Their distinct, arpeggiated style that they had been cultivating since Dol Guldur is at its peak here- "Runes of Power" is the song I show to people when they start asking me what the fuck I'm talking about when I'm saying a riff can fly you away on a dragon. (Usually they just stare at me in further confusion, but that's for another day.) "Ours Foes Shall Fall" contains a great riff of a similar nature, as well- now that the music has lost its immediacy, riffs like this are free to wander about in their own joy and delight, and the music is all the better for it for those who knew what Summoning was trying to capture. As always, the free, marching nature of the programmed drumkit gives the riffs an open sandbox to wander on- the drumming is rarely a heavily showy or noticeable element but the music would seem ill-fitting to any other drum style, nor would the drumming here truly be compatible with a lot else other than this.
This is not an album with highs and lows. You will have your highlights of the album, but it is structured to lift you up and up into the embrace of energy, joy and power. The keyboards have been altered to just the right balance with the guitars- everpresent but always merely on the periphery of your mind. This is also a somewhat radical change in the keyboards' position in the music that a lot of metalheads may not be used to- in black metal, even in the styles they were more of a feature in, that feature served as a juxtaposition of the actual metal that was still the driving force of the music, but on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame the two work in perfect symbiosis with each other, with each taking turns bleeding into and out of your attention and creating more memorable songs because of it.
Even the intro is done a little better than in the past and it gives us a little glimpse into what's really going on here: there's layers. Multiple layers of keyboards, sometimes going against each other's grain to create dense harmonies, and sometimes coming together- creating harmonies and little melodic patterns that may or may not just be your brain playing tricks on you, but even in "A New Power is Rising" we see the keyboards stack on to each other, creating one of the best intros around and one of the few in metal that actually does what it's fucking supposed to- builds into the album and gives a little, y'know, introduction to what you're in for. God, am I ever sick of bands just putting a bunch of ominous sounds or an acoustic guitar wank or some shit at the beginning of the album. We get it, you're artistic, I figured that was evident by virtue of the fact you're fucking making music, moving on. Each song has its owns standout traits thanks to this careful blending of influences. Every. Single. Track. "South Away" has its meaty opening riff that is perhaps one of the most metallic of the album, that brags with a courage and bravado, "hit me motherfucker". "In Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" has this great sort of adventure-film-score feel to it, "Our Foes Shall Fall", besides the great aforementioned riff has a keyboard break at about 3 minutes in that is absolutely sublime and puts you in a completely different place for when the main riff returns. "The Mountain King's Return" is the song that shows the closest resemblance to what Summoning was doing in the past, and the overwhelming sappiness and positivity emanating from it shows in a lot of the ways they've changed. Minimalism is used to great effect- the slower, more focused songs like this one tend to be even stronger and more all-encompassing in the glory they express. The sparse keyboard breaks that dot the album literally always work and they know exactly where to put them. "Runes of Power" has my personal favorite Summoning riff, "Ashen Gold" builds on the same mood as "Runes of Power", almost being a part two to that song, and then...there's "Farewell".
Talking about what makes "Farewell" so good requires a little elaboration on the final piece of the puzzle that was somewhat unnoticeably lacking on previous efforts: the vocals. They're the weak link in most bands, and for the majority of Summoning's career, that is indeed the case; they existed more as a static element of rhythm not really meant to be paid a whole lot of attention to. The always seemed to exist more so the music could retain its metal aesthetic, but on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, they can finally hold their own. Maybe it's just because I've been some kind of a hip-hop fiend over the past year or so, but Silenius (on "South Away", The Mountain King's Return" and "Farewell") and Protector (on "In Hollow Halls...", "Our Foes Shall Fall", "Runes of Power and "Ashen Gold") seem much more rhythmically on point than they were before, less hazy and static and more of a controlled, triumphant chant. They do dip into some actual chanting sections that are downright terrific (most notably on "South Away"), and then, on Farewell...they sing. Goregeously. Obviously without any sort of formal training, the chorus is chock full of pomp and cheese, but in typical Summoning closer style, the overblown grandiose nature of the entire song (even the sappiest moments earlier in the album can barely compare to this) works to their benefit, and the slow, dramatic composition setting up the clean vocal chorus makes it one of Summoning's best tracks. Truly, though, a majority of the best and most memorable moments of Summoning can be found on this album. Everything has finally come together for them, and this album is a victory in every sense it can possibly be. I have no doubt a good load of atmospheric black metal drew a lot of its influences from this album specifically- the riffs and the inimitable feeling bear too much similarity to a lot of second-string imitators for it not to be true. I feel like this is a somewhat revolutionary album, but it will take some time for a lot of people to retrospectively determine that- but this album was released a year after Dead as Dreams. Let's keep that in mind, considering post-black metal inevitably ends up sounding more like this than it ever did Weakling. The pinnacle of Summoning. This is not like anything else you have heard before, and you owe it to yourself to give it at least a fair shot.
This is not music for those that want to be pummeled by riffs, nor for those who need music that immediately grabs their attention. This is the music for those that wander and dance in the forest of delight- though our motives are strange and confusing, we know in our hearts that in our celebration and exploration of joy for the sake of it, we are the ones who will emerge victorious in the end.
Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame is one heck of an album. It's not as murky and ambient as Oath Bound, and it's also much more "metal", and fairly accessible. It's not my favorite Summoning album and I don't think it's their best album, but it certainly is quite the record.
The most noticeable thing on this album is the clear production; LMHSYF is definitely the best produced (technically) album Summoning have made. The plodding drums are loud and heavy and somewhat faster than Oath Bound, the guitars are more towards the front of the mix and have a more chunky and heavy sound to them, but they also still have a slightly ambient feel to them at times. Keyboards are used in abundance here, and while not the best sounding keyboards I've ever heard they certainly do a good job of setting the mood. The vocals are basically the same as every other Summoning album, not amazing but definitely well performed black metal screeches and screams.
The songs are shorter here than on Oath Bound and seem to rely more on catchy melodies than on constant repetition. The melodies like I said above are more accessible and catchier, and there's a lot fewer long buildups to choruses and climaxes like on Oath Bound. To sum up songwriting: more concise, more catchy and shorter songs.
There's some real killer songs here, and really no song is bad. The samples used on "South Away" and "In Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" are executed perfectly and really add to the songs. There's a good number of samples used here, mostly from old The Lord of the Rings radio dramas, which is a pretty neat idea to use in music like this.
The star of the show here is the last song, "Farewell," though, with it's dramatic trumpets and amazing choir use(this is first time clean vocals were used in Summonings music if I'm not mistaken). The chorus to this song is amazing, actually the entire song is amazing and is for me the highlight of the album.
Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame is a good solid album, with a really cool medieval feel. The songs are catchy and easy to follow, and really show the songwriting strength of Summoning. While not the band's best album, this is definitely a keeper.
And then this comes along...
To be summoning, you have to be 40% black metal, 35% Tolkien geek and 80% talented in writing melodies. In other words, they are a black metal band that sticks out. While their earlier albums were definitely noticeable of being black and metal. A dozen years ago, they straightened their sound, got over it, and somehow got talented. Now with this album, they even got tired of having a drummer and got a nice computer program to record it. Many of the melodies are played by that certain computer program. Hell, If they’d hide their guitar and lost their voices, Summoning wouldn’t be able to rent a room on this site. But, all this stuff matters not, as they might be not very metal, they are however extremely talented.
All of these songs are composed of the so called medieval influenced melodies. Melodies that would serve the Lord of the Rings film right. Ashen Gold got this beautiful intro composed of woodwind instruments, a marching drum, eventually some horns and trumpets and of course the black metal vocals. Farewell got this choir that perfectly fits within the epical fantasy style Summoning seems to be heading towards. Every song on here is comparable to one of the many obstacles Frodo came along when he was heading towards Mordor. It actually wouldn’t be that strange if the writers were actually aiming to perceive such an idea. South Uman with its brooding intro… In Halls beneath the Fells, such a powerful song… The Harpsichord of Runes of Power. It’s all so typical, but still so good. Summoning definitely got their act together for good on this album and recorded the best Lord of the Rings influenced album ever.
There is nothing decent about this album. It’s all above that bar. Rem Power is Rising’s intro is the only exception, with its boring spoken words. Spoken words never work that well, not here, not anywhere else. However, it only lasts for a mere 11 seconds (other than the ending of that song, although the vocals are then perfectly backing up the instruments). So although the very first 11 seconds of this album sucks, there is still almost an hour of music to enjoy. A musical journey, a quest. An epic adventure to reach an ultimate maximum of fantasy and mythical greatness. A divine outcome that started with something that disguised itself as a very commonly outline of music. In short. This is the musical equivalent of Lord of the Rings. Not only in distinctiveness, but also in quality.
Let's get this out of the way first: Summoning don't really sound much like LOTR. They sound more like a soundtrack to a well-meaning but nonetheless terribly cliched RPG. Whenever this comes on the first thing that enters my mind is "Your party enters a Tavern. You see: bartender." Or things along that line, anyway.
However, the thing with me is that I love my cliched fantasy stuff. Whether it's a computer game or a ridiculously long trilogy of books, I can't get enough of that stuff. I've always wondered why there haven't been any musicians who have successfully captured that sort of otherworldly, fantastically epic scope that my favourite fantasy novels- Feist and Wurst's series set in the land of the Tsurani, Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books, or even Robin Hobb's Solider Son trilogy- have done so well. I liken my search for that elusive bit of music to any number of epic fantasy novels that involve traveling for a very long time in search of something, which is to say: every epic fantasy novel.
Summoning's style is ridiculously epic; it sacrifices a few other elements to achieve this but overall I think it's worth it. Any attempts at effective riffing are removed in favour of a huge amount of keyboards- this is truly an album that's reliant on the keyboards, and I'm really glad that Summoning found some good horn/string samples to use- the horn, piano and string lines flying over some nice but overall far in the background tremelo guitar stuff, while the excellent drums pelt out some really nice patterns that make everything even more grandiose. The songs don't really change a great deal, generally picking two or three epic themes and swapping through them in the songs- no attempt at changing tempos here or anything, just long, dignified and very, very grand themes that slowly unfold and build throughout the song.
I imagine that description probably annoys the shit out of quite a few people, certainly a lot of people will see this album as boring; but it's been executed incredibly well and overall I think it owns pretty damn hard. I would hesitate to call this album exciting in a typical sense- much of this album utilises the same tempo and time signature- but it's just so freakin' HUGE. "The Mountain Kings Return" builds up the tension with some fairly simple lute runs before things get loud and vaguely sad- hard to describe anything Summoning do here as remotely depressing, really- and it's "doomed warriors ride out for battle" atmosphere is impeccably executed.
That's not the peak of this album, though. The best song, and a fairly good example of Summoning's brilliance despite their shortcomings is the closer "Farewell". There's only 3 different things of lyrics and as far as I can tell only three different themes for it's 9 minute running time. Still, it's one of the best songs I've ever heard- the slow churning grandeur of the verses, and of course the absolute beast of a chorus, where some delicious tremelo guitars and a hugely epic drum beat underpin the only usage of clean vocals in this album (which are made all the more effective due to the fact that you only hear them in one song). It's massive, truly a song that deserves the overused word "epic".
Yeah, Summoning have a formula that when looked at from a somewhat objective point of view screams "heavily flawed". However, this review is not written with any attempt at being objective. This album is some seriously epic and brilliant symphonic/black metal-ish stuff, and you would all be advised to check this out as quickly as possible.
Summoning occupies a very unique niche in the field of epic metal. Their music requires that the listener be in a very specific mood, and if these factors successfully align, they can deliver a very rewarding listening experience. The band's earlier material like Minas Morgul began incorporating the now-infamous tenacious, driving keyboard textures alongside the programmed war-like drums. However, it wasn't until Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, six years later, that the formula finally achieved its potential. In light of the recent surge of Tolkien worship bands and general over saturation of Middle Earth subject matter as a quick, effortless way to add fantasy lyrical themes, it becomes difficult to imagine a time when a band utilizing this concept didn't come off as trite or played-out.
The atmosphere summoned is definitely potent, although the only thing particularly "Tolkien" about this is the lyrical themes and voice-overs present in many of the songs. The tracks are protracted as a whole, confiding in repetition and a very gradual build up and eventual release of tension to earn their appeal. One of the major problems on Summoning's weaker albums is that many of these songs simply don't go anywhere, spending an inordinate amount of time coasting along at a mid-paced rapidity, initially drawing a decent amount of interest but eventually decaying as the luster of the melodies begin to dull. While the same can be said regarding "South Away" and to a lesser extent "Ashen Cold", the band avoids the pitfalls for the most part here. The one song that stands out significantly is the closer, "Farewell", which revels in its triumphant second half, featuring some very potent clean vocals alongside an entrancing melodic keyboard line. Of the remaining songs, "In Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" remains the most potent, featuring the most effective drum patterns and great atmospherics. "Runes of Power" is also worth mentioning, as these three tracks are among the best the band has ever written.
The production is difficult to dissect in light of Summoning's unique approach. It is hard for me to say that it doesn't accomplish what it sets out to do. The vocals are drenched in reverb, masking what is most likely a fairly pedestrian black metal rasp. Some of the vocal patterns are enterprising, and the aforementioned clean, choir-esque vocals near the end of the album are definitely an avenue worth exploring further. The voice-overs can add or detract a great amount of appeal depending on the song. The guitars are extremely minimalist, consisting of staccato, arpeggio patterns which are obviously an afterthought once the keyboards are taken into account. The keyboards don't sound overtly cheap like on the group's earlier material, and are almost universally at the forefront of the music. The drums are also reverb-heavy, but follow a bevy of repetitive patterns and fills, ultimately ending up as just a space-filler in light of the lack of a real drummer. However, like Limbonic Art, part of Summoning's appeal is the artificial nature of the music, enhanced by the programmed drumming. It becomes a style in and of itself, almost like this is music beyond corporeal capabilities.
What makes Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame Summoning's best album is that the standard of quality remains quite high whilst considering the remaining tracks. Some of them pass by with such obvious epic glamors that they begin to blur together. Regardless, even the most plodding and middling of these tracks, such as "South Away", still make a strong case for the band's continued existence. Those interested in the aural journey Summoning's music can offer should start here.
Summoning rates as one of the stranger black metal-styled acts out there today. Instead of frantic blast beats and Satanic screams, this duo goes in for a consciously epic feel and vocals describing the events of Tolkien's iconic works about Middle Earth. At least, that's their aim. If this album - so far the first that I've heard by Summoning - is anything to go by, they just don't do it very well.
The bottom line here is that the music doesn't sound so much "epic" as "tedious". I like epic music, whether epic black metal or epic anything else, but the purpose behind anything which is labelled as "epic" is for the sound to actually progress to somewhere by the end of the track. On the majority of "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame", that just doesn't happen. Our two musicians are more than content to noodle away on their keyboards, bang a bit on the drums and deliver what sounded on first listen like a gargle but then turned out to be vocals. Every now and then, they change this pattern by introducing a sample from the "Lord of the Rings" stories as well, with these samples being used over and over again on each track. Multiply that over the 8 tracks of the album and you have the rough sound of this release. That's right, there really isn't a huge amount distinguishing the first track from the last or anything in between.
It's a bit of a shame to say this, really, since there's clearly some musical talent in here somewhere. I get the feeling that if the two performers were prepared to focus their ideas a bit more (the tracks here average out at around 7 minutes in length), they'd be able to create something very impressive indeed. As it is, they just sound lazy and incapable of ending the tracks they've started.
Summoning is one of the bands which really ends up with fanatical fans, as the reviews here will show. It's already been said, but the idea of comparing this music to Wagner and so forth is a very bad idea - Wagner wrote music that went somewhere, whereas this music just goes around in circles. That might be the first indication that there's a case of overrating going on here.
I've tried very hard to enjoy this album, but when I'm constantly looking at my watch and wondering how much longer each track will run for, that just isn't likely to happen.
This is the fifth full-length album for one of metal's most inscrutable and original bands. Summoning play things their own way, and there remains probably no other band who are as defiantly iconoclastic and individual as this one. With this album Summoning have stepped beyond the bounds of any genre and forged the ultimate expression of their unique sound.
When bands aim for 'epic' they often hit 'boring' instead, and even the great Summoning themselves have had this problem in the past. (Witness the near-impossibility of sitting through all of "Dol Guldur") Frequently Summoning songs – and albums – went on far too long and seemed unnecessarily drawn-out. But not this time, this time Protector and Silenius have hit exactly what they were aiming for, and "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame" is nothing short of magnificent. Summoning have finally distilled their sound down to what they always wanted it to be: majestic. Anyone familiar with Summoning will be hardly surprised by the style of the album, as this is still slow, epic music fueled by orchestral keys and sparse but effective vocals. What I love about this album is the way it builds layers upon layers of sound. Each song starts with a rather simple keyboard melody or guitar riff, but then the barbaric war-drum samples kick in, and the melodies add to one another and vary, building on each other until the vocals come in like an infernal incantation and the sampled spoken parts repeat like the words of a spell, and before you know it the song is thundering along like a tidal wave, yet with no one instrument providing the driving force.
The booklet is beautiful, as I would expect, but enigmatic, as I also expected. Again there are no lyrics in the booklet, no thank-yous, no product endorsements. This band remains as elusive and as anti-commercial as ever. Since you will never make out the lyrics, I urge you to go online and look them up, as all of Summoning's lyrics are as beautiful and majestic as their music. They are not to be missed.
I have always liked Summoning, but until now they never managed to capture me as completely as they have with this album, and I am pleased to be able to place such fine work from such a defiantly artistic band on my top shelf. No one has ever made music like Summoning, and no one else ever will. A masterpiece.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
I wrote up a rather meaner review of this album a while back but I suppose I’ll have to scrap it now because it’s grown on me, sort of. (That happens all the time of course, so take any reviews I write as being less than definitive-and-final.)
No epiphany on my part or anything, I just put it on and I enjoyed it better than the last time I heard it. Probably some of that has to do with the fact that I’m pretty burned out on metal at the moment (ironic), and anything that strikes me as out of the ordinary – unmetal metal – gains a bit of appeal.
The major point in favor of all of Summoning’s music, to me, is that it’s symphonic, melodic, keyboard-driven black metal that sounds not a thing like what one ordinarily expects so-called symphonic, melodic, keyboard-driven black metal to sound like. In other words, it sounds nothing like Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. In other other words, there’s not a lot of “normal” heavy metal influence here, or if there is, it manifests itself in less obvious ways.
The real influence is electronic music, I would expect (eh, can’t be bothered to research interviews). I couldn’t name a specific artist/band/project (what do they call themselves? that’s how little I know), but I do Summoning’s associated with some electronic side project(s), and with that rattling around in my head, it’s hard not to see the parallels – Summoning rely on programmed drums, and draw keyboard melodies across repetitive guitar playing. There are even voice samples, taken from a radio drama version of Lord of the Rings. There certainly aren’t any guitar riffs that really scream “metal”, no solos to speak of, no big soaring choruses. There aren’t any actual beep-beep thump-thump techno aspects either, of course. In theme and atmosphere, this is pure Tolkein, and a great deal more upbeat and cheery in tone than past outings, I notice.
It’s very, very listenable. The production is ultra-smooth, maybe more so than some would prefer, as they obviously put a good deal of effort into fine-tuning every tiny aspect of the recording. Each one of the individual drums (er, drum samples) sounds like it was recorded in a separate universe. The guitar tone is clear and powerful, and the keyboards… don’t sound like real instruments, but they sound like really nice keyboards. The only remotely harsh part of the album – the only part that would offend your mom, or a power metal fan – are the scratchy vocals, and they’re buried under so much studio magic and so tangential to the music itself that they scarcely emerge as a factor.
Though quite accessible, it’s not actually “catchy”, as far as inviting the listener to sing along goes. How could it be, after all, with this style of songwriting. It doesn’t lead you around enough for that. It doesn’t want to be a rock album.
It’s predictable enough after its own fashion, though, and we tend to feel the riff changes and the addition and subtraction of voices in the music as – or before – they happen. It almost goes down too easy, with no tension. My basic complain with the album would be just that: once it gets into the groove carved out by the first couple of tracks, it really doesn’t budge. For all the band’s symphonic aesthetics, the music doesn’t breathe much; it almost feels mechanical, deterministic. I think Minas Morgul significantly edges this album out there, although I cannot exactly say how. But even so, this is quite good.
I got this cd really long ago, back when it was new and loved it right from the beginning. I was amazed at the amount of detail and ornamentation that was in this cd. The balance of technicality (which is still rather minimal) melody, and rhythm creating amazing atmospheres for each song. All the songs are unique as well, they all have parts that one can instantly remember them by, such as the clarinet in the beginning of Ashen Cold or the strings and horns of A New Power is Rising. The thing that makes the cd even more amazing is that it was concieved orchestrated and played by two people.
If you're familiar with Summoning you know that they are very Tolkein/Lord of the Rings influenced, and if you're into that kind of music but don't know Summoning this is the perfect place to begin. It has more of the old medieval feel than Stronghold yet the Instruments are clearer than on Dol Guldur or Minas Morgul. The production is excellent. except for the guitars which are just about as distorted as they can get. The drum machine still plays that familiar beat but keeps things interesting when need be giving us Timpani and Tom parts that are a nice variety from the usual snare/bass/tambourine beat.
The cd starts with "A New Power is Rising", which is the usual hymn like intro that Summoning cds have and builts up gradually, starting with just a French Horn and gradually building up, adding more and more instruments (btw Summoning does all these istruments with Keyboard) until it reaches a very epic conclusion. Than comes "South Away", a song dominated by medieval trumpets and some good samples.The chorus is great, and never gets old, and the vocals are first heard on this song, and as usual they are great. Next come In "Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" and "Our Foes Shall Fall" which I think of a litlle as one song because they give me the same kind of vibe. The verse of In Hollow Halls... and intro of Our Foes Shall Fall are particularily good. "The Mountain Kings Return", one of the longest songs on the cd has a pretty guitar dominated intro (for this cds standards) and a great bridge. All the playing stops and then a solo instrument plays followed by a Sample of "So We Come to it in the End" and a fill into the chorus. Genius song structure for this song. "Runes of Power" is next and the strings and horns remind of the first song. The chorus has no singing except for a sound sample which fits perfectly. Then comes"Ashen Cold". Great intro. Great chorus. Great Bridge. Great Verse. Great Song. The last song is "Farewell" in which Summoning incorperate clean singing for the first time in the chorus and the result is great. Wonderful trumpet lines as well in this song. Very good closer.
Metal fan or not, I recomend this cd to anyone who can tolerate non-clean vocals, and even if you cant, give it a shot. Every song on here gets 10/10 from me, in fact all Summoning songs get 10/10 so get all the Summoning cds while you're at it!
(Whens the new cd coming out? Talk is now of 2007! :( )
“Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame” is the fifth full-length album released by the Austrian 2-man band Summoning. It’s hard to say if you can call this pure Black Metal or not, but what’s for sure is that this album is simply fantastic and that it’s one of the most beautiful albums ever released in history. A few years ago I didn’t really like Metal bands that used keyboards, I used to think that they just don’t fit into Metal music. But then I discovered Summoning and my view concerning the usage of keyboards in Metal totally changed. Summoning’s music is completely keyboard based, the keyboards are even more important than the guitars and the vocals, which is pretty rare for a Metal band.
For me, this album is just perfect. It couldn’t have been done any better. Silenius and Protector are able to create an absolutely amazing atmosphere. While listening to this, I somehow come into a dream world, because the melodies are so beautiful and epic. And then, when the album is over, I “wake up” again and sadly realize that my life is not only dedicated to Summoning. A few parts on this album are so fantastic that they send chills down my spine everytime I listen to them. The lyrics are mostly Tolkien-oriented but on this album they also got inspired by other authors for the first time. The vocals are well-done and the guitar riffs are very good too, but like I said before, not so important on this album. The production is ok. The sound quality is not 100% crystal clear, but it doesn’t matter at all. This is still an album that everybody should get, I can only recommend it. It’s one of my all-time favourites and definitely worth owning. I give it 100%.
Black metal can be said to be a contingently anti-social rejection of the modern Judaeo-Christian world order. Summoning accepts the validity of black metal's conceptual mission. However, Summoning are not a Black metal band, and Black metal's critical outlook is not something they expound. Summoning, in terms of both their music (structurally and aesthetically) and their lyrical concepts have moved beyond that which is and embrace fully the longing for a different time and place that in good black metal is always implied buts rarely takes centre stage.
Summoning’s image of a different world is portrayed through the use, lyrically, of Tolkien's Middle Earth. We can see the choice of Tolkien as an endorsement both of the ancient myths and ideals that Tolkien bases his narratives on, and of their modern application which does not exclude their metamorphosis in order to suit the peculiar needs of the age (For example we see a fascination with and sympathy for 'the dark' that only makes sense in an age when 'the light' as a symbol has become associated with a corrupt and inhuman ideology). Unlike much black metal, Summoning's lyrics do not use metaphysical or supernatural entities as agents that decry their own non-existence. Summoning accepts that part of the human spirit that sees beyond our mundane material existence, and unlike many metal bands, Summoning has successfully reclaimed the metaphysical world from its Judaeo-Christian captors. Consequently the lyrics on 'Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame' deal with mysticism, supernatural power and the inherently non-physical entity of Tolkien's Sauron.
If Summoning's lyrical approach to the projection of a renovated ideology for the modern world is predicated on the works of Tolkien, then their musical approach has a similar relationship with the Romantic composers and in particular, as we might expect, with Wagner who himself recalled and reworked the myths and ideals of a former age in his great work Das Rhine gold. Summoning sounds like mighty deeds and tender words, like war without fear, like glorious victory and noble defeat. Summoning sounds like the things that make life more than the unpredictable interaction of tiny specs of matter and mathematically extant forces.
Keyboards take precedence on 'Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame' both in terms of the mix and in terms of structural function. Put simply, when you hum along to a Summoning song, it will be the keyboard lines you are humming. Guitars are used, but not in the usual heavy metal way. They are low down in the mix and usually serve as a harmonic balance or counterpoint for the Keyboards. That is not to say that the guitars are not interesting in their own right -they are- but they are used in a disciplined manner that excludes virtuosity. The drums (or drum machine) are stark but not monotonous. They drive the songs forward rhythmically and like the guitars operate within the context of the song, and do not go in for virtuosity (one of the strengths of a drum machine; there is no drummer desperate to satisfy his ego by whacking in impressive but ultimately inappropriate fills and blasts). Vocals are used sparingly. They are harsh, but varied in timbre, there are after all two vocalists. They often develop into chanted mantras.
The album is repetitive at a basic level. Closer examination will reveal 'repetitions' do not merely reiterate musical themes but develop and recontextualise them in order to explore the possibilities inherent in the song. Consequently the songs tend to be long and thorough.
'Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame', an album whose very title suggest the immortal and the rekindling of the smouldering spirit that, although it is so often temporally associated with times of yore, is innate in us, takes heavy metal forward conceptually, musically and ideologically. This album defies the cynic who can see only gimmick and vainglorious ideologues pedalling outdated sermons for another time. Summoning have created a master piece of foresight and hindsight, a master piece not of what we are but what we could be, a master piece that fully understands the nature of the artistic ideal and its relationship to our blighted earth.
Blind Guardian are usually associated with the craft of J.R.R Tolkien while Summoning seems to cower in the corner, neglected. No more! These guys take it to another level. I mean, their entire discography is dedicated to Tolkien. It just doesn't get any more dedicated than that. Rule 75 of Black Metal is fulfilled.
This album starts off with some hobbit speech, err excuse me, I mean 'black speech' and very soon the listener is immersed into the dark world of Summoning where drum machines, fuzzy guitars and simple keyboard passages in a constant loop rule. Amazingly, they sort of manage to capture that "epic" atmosphere despite the hilarity of the spoken samples, uncanny similarity between the songs and the usual sore throat black metal vox.
Actually, I wouldn't call this album black metal. It's much mellower than the previous Summoning releases that I have heard(Dol Guldur). Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It's not very metal at all. It's still pretty nifty, though.
The songs have managed to bore themselves into my mind and I have actually considered the outcome of having these tracks as the soundtrack for the LotR trilogy. Should fit some parts of the movie quite well.
I must say that most of the songs are quite repetetive, but that was obviously the intent. I don't think that I can pick a favourite track since this album is more of a mood piece and should be consumed as whole. The songs are pretty catchy on their own, however. "The torches blazed with light" is currently on repeat in my head. God damn these hobbit fiends.
The keyboards ARE the primary instrument on this album. Beep bop, casio, beep bop. The guitar sound is pretty unique altough it some parts remind me of Emperor a little, but not overdone. The drum sound sounds quite fabricated, but oddly enough it doesn't really hurt the music.
Overall, this is a pretty good album despite the cheesy factor and the droning effect it has on after repeated listening. Check it out if you consider yourself a fan of epic (but not orchestral or symphonic overkill - see Rhapsody) music and don't mind Gollum with a stick up his ass as a vocalist.
Tolkien fantaics with Satan in mind
"In the darkness bind them"
In the fields, shortsword in hand
Is where you may find them
From the very first seconds of "A new power is rising" where the "One ring to rule them all.." verse is being chanted in the language of Mordor, this is downright magnificent. No, it's way beyond that, even in a way you cannot describe appropriately.
Austrian 2-man band Summoning has really done it this time. Not that I find any of their albums bad in any way, it's just that this is their crowning moment. And how does one define this? It is blasphemy to even call this black metal in any way, where real black metal is dark and grim and necro
etc etc, this is.. well "symphonic" is too little a word for it. There is guitar riffing and black metal-ish vocals, but that's the end of the comparison. They use keyboards like I've never heard before, let's just say they make the perfect orchestral sound without having an orchestra around.
So no, this isn't your fast-as-fuck blastbeating shit, I don't find much regular metal ingredients in this, so I'm really surprised that the band is so appreciated by metal fans. But nevermind that, this is really pointless to dissect, you just need to know that this is as grand as music gets.
One of the best cd's you can own, as simple as that.