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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.