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Have you seen the Arcenstone? - 65%

caspian, July 26th, 2010

Lost Tales is more proof of the fine line Summoning walk between profound, life affirming excellence and horrible cheese, as each of the songs here are on different sides of that line by a large degree. Seeing as the two songs on offer here are so different from each other I'm going to track-by-track it.

"Arcenstone" would be close to the best song Summoning have ever done. Very prominent, and need I say really good use of voice samples here; the excellent intro setting the mood, and in particular the immortal "far away.. lonely mountain..its' dark head in a torn cloud" line of samples- a very fitting line that only serves to amplify the sublime melody underneath. A really deep and marvellous atmosphere just envelopes the whole song; the closest comparison I can come up with is 'Korition Among the Trees' from Nightshade Forests, but even that doesn't come close. Arguably the most beautiful bit of music I own. The slow, steadly flowing toms are perfect. Perfect! A stunning bit of lo-fi ambient that's made even better by the production that's shrouded in mists, er, mids. Summoning prevail!

..On that song at least. Whereas Arcenstone is an ambient song through and through and succeeds brilliantly without guitars, Saruman is another matter entirely. It's usual Summoning; bombastic, big drums, big synth lines, real epic aims, but with the seriously muted production and lack of guitars/vocals it just fails real bad. Why not add guitars, add some treble and then just chuck it on the next full length? The whole song is obviously missing something, and it's easy to see what.

Still, the first track is a success of the highest order; I'd love to hear Summoning do an album in the vein of that (show ol' Varg how an ambient album is done!). It's usual Summoning; somewhat repetitive and somewhat strange, with puzzling production choices- but it's usual Summoning in that despite all that it's still an unqualified success. Get this and pretend that it's just got one song on it.

Amazingly enjoyable near-ambient - 90%

MaDTransilvanian, January 4th, 2009

I had known Summoning for only a few months prior to buying this EP and only because I had made the excellent decision to blindly buy Oath Bound. I was very interested in exploring the rest of Summoning’s discography and I found this little gem at a small dedicated store I occasionally visit.

Lost Tales is a two-song EP containing two very different tracks, very different both from each other and from the rest of the band’s work. Both songs are nearly pure ambient (with some vocals) instead of the atmospheric black metal the band usually plays.

The opener, Arcenstone, is a song taken from the Dol Guldur sessions (a masterpiece of an album, by the way) which is on the more ambient side of the stuff recorded back then. It’s extremely repetitive, with much of the same spoken vocals repeated throughout. The vocals are very soothing, relaxing, in a kind of epic telling of a story reminiscent of the lyrical universe from which Summoning draw their inspiration. The absence of guitars on this track, replaced completely by keyboards, is actually very fitting to the overall atmosphere of the song and the same can be said of any type of harsh vocals. The drumming is the usual discreet programmed drumming which is prevalent in the less metal Summoning songs and it fits very well with the overall atmosphere which the band tries, very successfully I might add, to create on this 9-minute-long track. It’s one of the most beautiful Summoning songs I’ve ever heard.

Saruman is the album’s second track. The Tolkien influence is even more obvious here due to both the title and the samples used. The song is more experimental than the previous one and the vocals are outright spoken this time, and very repetitive, indeed too much so. While Saruman lacks the same amount of epic atmosphere so prevalent in Arcenstone, it’s still a very good song in its own right. The keyboards are also the main instrument used here and they give the song a very clean and melodic nature. The drum programming is also used successfully, especially in the passage starting at the 3:25 mark where it’s woven very well to the keyboard melodies, which reach their peak at the very end of the song (the last minute). The lack of the spoken vocals for much of this part of the song is also worth nothing as a good thing, although their presence isn’t irritating at all.

Lost Tales is a great EP by one of the best atmospheric black metal bands in the world, although it’s almost completely devoid of metal. The ambient music is soothing and epic and it’s the Summoning release to which I listen to the most frequently. It’s definitely worth hearing for all fans of atmospheric black metal and especially ambient.

The lighter side of Summoning - 83%

PhantomMullet, September 10th, 2008

Lost Tales is a small EP that breaks away from Summoning's typical style of music. If anything, the songs here remind me most of Protector's side project, Ice Ages, but even that seems to be a bit of a stretch. I think Lost Tales is a small, but unique little release that works as a solid supplement for any Summoning fan who enjoys a different taste of ambiance.

Lost Tales has no guitars and no harsh vocals. It's mostly electronic dominated with only 2 songs, but I wouldn't put it on the same level as DVKE or Ice Ages. Still, both songs hereproduce a tremendous ambient feel to attract any listener who enjoys ambient music. Many passages from The Lord of the Rings are found here.

The first track, Arcenstone, is very simple but also very relaxing. Almost sort of a rainy feel. In fact, it's one of my favorite songs from Summoning. I just like the general build up in the beginning and the way the LOTR passages fall into place. The electronics have a low pitched feel to them, but the production is perfect. Vocals are also noteworthy. Well, I wouldn't call them vocals, more spoken, but they fit the mood real well.

Saruman is a bit different from Arcenstone. It may not be as good, but it's certainly worth hearing. This track could have appeared in a Gauntlet Dark Legacy game or any other medieval adventure type of game and one wouldn't even notice. The vocals here are a bit cheesy, but if this type of music attracted you, it wouldn't matter too much anyway. Unlike Arcentone, Saruman is a bit more upbeat and glorified. The tempo is changed about halfway into the song as well. There's more emphasis on the drums too.

Certainly Lost Tales won't appeal to everyone, perhaps even some Summoning fans. But those who enjoy Summoning a lot for the atmosphere may certainly find this album to be worth it. If you can find a cheap copy somewhere, go for it.

Everyone needs more Summoning - 70%

NightOfTheRealm, May 28th, 2004

With roots dating back to 1993, Austria’s premier black metal band Summoning has released two lost tracks from DOL GULDUR and STRONGHOLD sessions from 1997 to 1999.

Die-hard Summoning fans know exactly what to expect from the band, and LOST TALES is no exception. For the non-initiates, Summoning’s music is a rich blend of atmosphere, powerful guitar chords, epic and well-used synths, and programmed drums. Unlike 99-percent of other bands using drum machines, the sound produced here actually complements Summoning’s sound. The end result is the perfect soundtrack for Lord of the Rings, or just about any other fantasy movie or game one can imagine. Both musically and lyrically, Summoning transport the listener back to the realms of Middle Earth. Blind Guardian have nothing against the epic and atmospheric nature of this band.

Unlike other Summoning albums, the two songs featured on LOST TALES are “rough mixes,” in that they do not contain the characteristic guitars or growled vocals common to Summoning’s full-lengths. While there is very little to do with metal on the album, here is seventeen minutes of absolutely enthralling music of the finest nature. In any case, if Lord of the Rings is not metal, then what is?

A Tolkien fan is a fool if he has not checked out Summoning yet (If you happen to be one of these fools, pick up any of Summoning’s past three albums). In addition, I most highly recommend Summoning to any fan of atmospheric music, not just metal. Die-hard Summoning heads like myself must own this one.

(originally written by me for www.metal-rules.com, March, 2003)

Arcenstone! - 85%

Almost_Honest, May 14th, 2004

Lost Tales have only two songs, both of them were in fact composed originally at 1997-1998.
This EP is very different from the regular Summoning releases. Both song are only keyboard with some samples from broadcast of Lord of The Ring. So there is not guitar or Protector/Silenius vocals here.
The artwork is beauty like always putting you in the right mood for the music.
The first song Arcenstoneis one of the better song Summoning has ever done, the incredible atmosphere have the power to lead you through dreamy lands...
But the second track, Saruman, is someway weak, here we can feel clearly the lack of heavyness. The song dont have the same feeling of Arcenstone, beside the second half is good, the beginning of it seens like a cartoon song.
All in all this is a good release with a fantastic song, a regular song and a good artwork.

The dilemma of guitars - 80%

PK, May 11th, 2004

Lost Tales is an atypical Summoning-release, containing a track from Silenius' now-disbanded instrumental project called Mirkwood and a previously unreleased demotrack from the Dol Guldur sessions, both without vocals or guitars but enriched with samples from various radio broadcasts of Summoning's biggest influence, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

The absence of guitars and vocals is a double-edged sword in this case. The Mirkwood-track which opens the album, Arkenstone, is very peaceful and dreamy, thus perfect without guitars. In fact, if Summoning ever re-did this track with guitars and vocals, I would probably find this magnificent piece ruined. If I really started glorifying the song as it deserves, I would probably write an essay, so let's not go into that. Let's just say that I would change only the fade-out, which it is way too short, making the song end as if it suddenly runs into a wall.

The other song, Saruman, on the other hand seems crippled without guitars and vocals. Unlike Arkenstone, Saruman is fast and bombastic. The heavy percussions make the keyboards sound thin without a wall of guitars supporting them. The song seems to scream out for some heavy tremolo-guitars familiar from previous Summoning-releases. Whereas the speech samples in Arkenstone fit in well, in Saruman they are too rhythmic, sounding sometimes almost like rap (read: not good at all). The composition and arrangement in Saruman is of typical Summoning quality (read: great), but with the leaking performance it leaves an incomplete feel.

Despite the weak Saruman, Lost Tales still definitely has its place in the collection of a Summoning-fan because of the masterly Arkenstone and its reasonable price.