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Debut albums in metal are always really cool, even (especially?) if they're listened to in retrospect of an established band you already like, because I mean, well, how do metal bands start? Usually it's a bunch of overzealous youngsters wanting to make their mark on the metal world, releasing every good musical idea they've ever had since puberty into the studio, and the end result is something inevitably connected to the beloved bands of the artist but still retaining a fair degree of individuality. The actual quality of the music itself is a whole other can of worms entirely, but debut albums, especially in a more DIY-oriented scene are a really good indicator of what a band wanted to be when they started out, albeit somewhat of a caricature compared to the originals they emulate. This debut phenomenon is practically the only reason Lugburz is worth a listen at all. Silenius and Protector have more or less tossed this album aside, chalking it up to his hunger to sound like the greats and ultimately considering Minas Morgul where the "Summoning sound" began. It's an interesting glimpse into where they originate from; it gives you some context and kind of provides a starting point, and without having heard this I don't think you can fully understand the essence of their later albums. Lugurz is not a great album by any means, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be mandatory to hear.
As Summoning's career goes on, though, the black metal element of the music becomes a lot more faded within the rest of the layers, to the extent that it takes up no more space than any other style and Summoning can no longer be called black metal. Lugburz is essentially the alpha and omega of Summoning's black metal side and pretty much the only entirely black metal album they ever released. There's a few immediate things that set this apart from the sophomore and beyond; the most obvious one being the fact that they have a real drummer. Summoning's big, thumping synthesized drumkit is one of their main draws, and unsurprisingly the addition of a real drummer added absolutely no benefits and brought up another series of problems; it sounds too cluttered. I know that's a weird complaint to have about a black metal album, but the jittery and frequently uptempo nature of the drums doesn't really let the melodies breathe. Summoning is supposed to be carving a musical journey for me to take, but the actual venture down the path sounds so tense and rushed I can't immerse myself in anything. The focal point of the album is the riffs, and while they're good for what they are, I've easily heard better. They take Darkthrone and Bathory's idea of putting only what you need in a riff, although as a result of the guitar tone and presentation Summoning sound much less abrasive than Fenriz and Culto, leading to a sound of tattered and worn pride giving off an atmosphere similar to that of the German band Horn. In addition, the increased presence of guitars also makes for a decreased keyboard presence; they sound like much less of a necessity to the music and tend to come to the forefront only in their own individual sections. In any sections that the keyboards DO actually run concurrent with the guitars, the melodies are much more stripped-down. That sort of keyboard integration is fairly standard procedure for black metal in this vein, but that's just the thing; Summoning are a band who are better for not adhering to traditional songwriting procedures and instead choosing to write songs more in line with their musical visions of Middle Earth, so while they're effectively checking all the boxes of how to write your standard black metal album, in doing so they lose everything that made them special in the first place.
Well, almost everything; the vocal performance here is one of the highlights. A genuine and occasionally wild and evocative set of snarling and rasping accompanied by a shriek or two when appropriate; one thing Silenius and Protector already had down was how they divvied up the vocal duties. From my understanding, the two have shared them fairly equally since the band's inception, each member writing their parts for their favorite instrumental versions of the songs and in the case of them both wanting to do one song, the one who put more work into it gets it. (Clean vocal choirs are sung by both of them, of course.) This was fascinating when I first heard it because you'd never be able to tell when it's Protector singing or Silenius (at pretty much ANY point in their discography). That's probably one of my favorite things about how these two guys make music, actually; both of them view themselves more as composers, only really picking up an instrument if they have to, and this gives both of them a lot of versatility in what they can contribute to the music; in a standard 4-piece band, everyone is somewhat confined to their own instrument, but both members of Summoning can tinker with any one part of the music they like, carefully sculpting it into exactly what they want. This approach to making music is not only one I wish I saw more in metal, but it's also probably the main reason Summoning's style is so obtuse and made up of small, simple parts that shouldn't work on their own, yet everything come together in a huge unity. Some bands are good at writing songs; Summoning write albums.
On its own, this is a really unexciting release. It's a decent Austrian black metal album from a third-tier scene; all its significance is held in that it is a seed of something that would grow to be one of the greatest and most unique bands of all time. Every element of Summoning is present here, but in a much more primitive and unrealized stage. Only once they would to step away from the ideas of what black metal is and go a completely different way is when the journey truly begins.
What do I think when I hear about Summoning? A difficult question. Probably, I'm seriously mistaken but Summoning sound extremely boring for me, without any chances to change to better. You might be baffled (and even shocked) by my words, cause these austrians are thought by many to create a unique sound in the mid-ninties (the time of black metal prosperity), therefore, they're genius and how can I say such things about them? But the fact is I dislike this band. I mean all of their works except the two albums, "Lugburz" and "Stronghold".
Actually, that doesn't mean that I like "Lugburz" very much. Everything I wanted to say is that not beeing able to stand their other albums, I consider "Lugburz" as one of the tolerable exceptions along with "Stronghold" (it sounds like pop-music performed by modern american singers, but looks acceptable). And changing the subject straight to "Lugburz", the first thing to blame is the quality of the recording. I'm not too squeamish, and the sound is not actually as bad as it sometimes happens to be on demos but, all the same, it looks rather lousy for the full-length recording. Honestly, I had an impression that they had recorded it in the bathroom.
The music on this album doesn't remind me of what they would eventually become starting from "Minas Morgul" up to the present. This is the example of pretty cool symphonic (classic) black metal, the style perfectly performed by Emperor and Dimmu Borgir a little bit earlier. That's nothing new in here but, of course, they should be given credits mainly for this release - nevertheless, it was 1995, and to some extent they were pioneers of the genre.
Ok, let's now talk about Summoning's attitude towards the Tolkien literature. I guess, this subject had certainly been discussed repeatedly before but I want to talk it over one more time. Tolkien's influence to the music in here is not as noticeable as on the following albums. However, the theme of "The Lord Of The Rings" has touched the lyrics and the album's cover much more than music. I think, you will agree with me as soon as you look at the cover and the titles of the tracks.
I like it to a certain degree but nothing more. I can enjoy such music only if it was written in the early or mid-90s and was composed by the giants of the style. 70/100 is the most exact mark for "Lugburz".
To highlight: "The Eternal Lands of Fire", "Dragons of Time", "Moondance".
When it comes to underrated first full length releases, Summoning's Lugburz is one of those lone outriders lost in a mid/late 90's soup of prejudice and wrongfulness. It truly is a phenomenon how some albums get so negative feedback and bad reputation. Be it a rawer production or a completely different style, whatever the reasons some people may have, Lugburz is not necessarily an album for fans of later Summoning material. The clear lack in long and epic songs and energy with which they immortalized themselves on their first attempt is most impressive.
Although me myself not being a hard-core Tolkien fan, Lord of the Rings seems to be a popular theme in the heavy metal scene on occasions (especially Summoning, whose lyrics are always about something in the Tolkien universe). Lugbúrz (or Barad-dûr, the dark tower where Sauron resides and keeps watch over Middle-earth) is a very fitting name for the rawness, evil theme found on this LP. The music, as mentioned before, does not resemble their later material any bit. hence I wouldn't recommend it to fans of persistent epic music. Their approach here reminds the listener to Burzum at times, due to the shrieked vocals and atmospheric black metal approach. The only thing that's different is that the music itself is,... let's say a little playful at times, with tunes that don't sound completely comical, but which have a sort of lunatic touch to them. Imagine Varg Vikernes on cannabis or Fenriz screaming to his old rock'n'roll records.
Lugburz starts out with the majestic, flowing and beautiful intro "Grey Heavens", which is the perfect introduction by contrast to the rest of the record. A rather playful, but melancholic tune created by horns and the traditional keyboard effort of Silenius and Protector, with gentle waves and kettledrums in the background. The rest of the album is black metal with desperate screams and every now and then underlined with keyboard parts. Raspy guitar work and great (real) and fast drumming is also a trademark of Summoning's first release. The production is fair, considering it being a black metal album and the songs themselves are each unique, creating a dark and gloomy atmosphere. The vocals themselves overdrive every once and a while, but if you like high pitched screaming with a scraping sound to it, it won't bother you. The melodies complement wonderfully with the screams and you really get that dark rider feeling à la Tolkien (ex. Flight of the Nazgul sounds exactly like the song title suggests). The music progresses wonderfully, with a very sable tone to it, leaving no room for much compromise.
The problem, I think, with many people discrediting this album so much, is the disappointment they endured when listening to this album for the first time, since it doesn't leave much room for their later, more atmospheric work with the echoes in the drums and the epic progression of their long songs. While expecting exactly their later work, people started pointing fingers and loathing a great piece of spectacular executed music. While still being a "rough start", don't make the mistake in underestimating and underappreciating this album, and expand your understanding "Beyond Bloodred Horizons".
There are a lot of things that are different off of Lugburz from the rest of the albums from Summoning. For starters, they use an actual drummer in this one as of them using a program in the rest of their work. The other difference, there’s not really atmosphere in this one. So we have atmospheric black metal without the atmosphere, now its just bland black metal.
The main difference is in fact the drumming by Trifixion who later got kicked out of the band. What’s nice about having an actual drummer is that the drumming doesn’t get as repetitive and that it doesn’t have that dull feel and sound the same on every song on the album. The drums are played a little bit faster in this album than their usual work, which is one of the better moments in this album.
There are two types of vocal styles they use. The first one you will notice is the ghostly shrieks that will send chills down your spine, these ones are the better of the two used. The other on is a very low and mono-toned growl that is very hard to understand to what he is singing. This style is most noticeable in the song “Where Winters Forever Cry”.
Now like I said, this is basically an atmospheric black metal album only without the atmosphere, so it’s just some average and kind of bland and boring black metal. Without the atmosphere its just ten black metal songs that aren’t that different from millions of songs that the millions of other black metal bands write. They’re about 2-3 riffs per song, two verses and a bridge riff. Then again, this isn’t the most creative genre of metal now isn’t it? Although, the opening track “Grey Heavens” is what makes the music atmospheric. This track is only some instrumental piece played on by a keyboard, but the calming opener and the water splashing on the shore helps build the little atmosphere on the album.
Now its not that it’s a terrible album, it’s far from that. Just that the album is very bland and uncreative considering that this album doesn’t have the atmosphere part to the music. It’s just an opener and ten black metal songs that don’t really sound like anything unique. This is just their bad album, for they get a lot better as the albums by Summoning come out. This is a band that has always improved over time in my opinion, not one that started out good and started to suck or has always sucked. I would have to say if you’re a fan of summoning you would want to check it out. If you’re a fan of atmospheric styles of metal I would say avoid this one and check out one of their later releases.
This is Summoning's debut full-length release. Although musically it has nothing to do with the band's later releases, it is quite an interesting album.
First of all, it is the only Summoning release to feature real drumming performed by an actual drummer! So apart from the usual duo, Silenius and Protector are joined by Trifixion, who was later kicked out of the band.
Musically Lugburz can be described as raw but melodic black metal with epic and atmospheric references. The drumming is surprisingly good and I particularly like the sound of it. There are many interesting guitar riffs and the many changes in the melodies make the songs pleasant to listen to. The bass guitar is on the far background and the keyboards are adding an ounce of atmosphere to the songs. The vocals are vague so to speak but that doesn't make much difference as your attention is caught mostly by the guitars and the drums. There are some atmospheric melodic breaks with keys and acoustic guitars. Of course they cannot be compared to the majesty of their later masterpieces but they do create a fine break between the fast raw black metal parts of their tunes.
Personally I'd prefer the vocals to be more straight with less echo and the drums to be less upfront and more at the background. Nonetheless they have some great ideas and it is obvious that the way they compose is really original. A great taste of what was to follow!
Sometimes during the songs they remind me of their fellow act "Abigor" but that is normal since they belong to the same scene and have shared members. Ray Wells of Pazuzu is performing some invocations here and there.
To sum up, I really like the first five songs. After that they sound a bit repetitive but then Dragons Of Time and Moondance kick in. Both excellent songs, they are the best ending to this very promising debut from Austria's most talented act!
Summoning's full-length debut "Lugburz" is a bit of an outlier from their more well-known and self-consciously "epic" style of their later albums. Don't misconstrue my low rating of this album as an endorsement of the way they went later, though. Neither "Lugburz" nor anything else I've heard by this Austrian duo is any good.
"Lugburz" fits squarely in the category of raw black metal with a hint of melody every now and then. It's a style of music most of us are familiar with, which should probably suggest that the band sounds pretty much the same as a whole host of other bands out there. The drums - recorded by a flesh-and-blood drummer, rather than the drum machine Protector and Silenoz have used for the rest of their career - spend most of their time blasting away like there's no tomorrow, with standard black metal vocals and tremolo'd guitars over the top of them.
The major problem that Summoning have here is a common one for black metal acts. There's not enough melody in the "melodic" parts to make them catchy enough to stick in my head, and there's not enough atmosphere in the atmospheric parts to give the album any identity. In their later career, of course, the duo would go all out for atmosphere and demonstrate that it's perfectly possible to have too much of it as well, but I digress.
A lot is made of Summoning's inspiration - the works of JRR Tolkien. Indeed, the lyrics here are apparently drawn straight from Tolkien's own works, a quirk which i believe only Rivendell (another Austrian act, strangely enough) emulates. This would be an important fact, were it not for the fact that the words can't be distinguished at all due to the vocal style and the amount of reverb on the vocals. This, I'm sure many readers will think, isn't a major problem, since it happens all the time in black metal - incomprehensible lyrics, that is. Well, I would argue here that if one of the major selling points is that the lyrics are all about Tolkien's legendarium, we have the right to pick them up every now and then. The lyrics could just as easily be the standard-issue Satanic material for all they can be deciphered on this album. Frankly, if I'm after Tolkien-inspired black metal, I'll go for Rivendell any day - there's variation, melody, atmosphere and brilliantly performed vocals throughout.
Some people even seem to have the idea that this album is "epic", which is frankly untrue. Summoning's later works are vaguely epic (as in, they're very long and have lots of keyboards), but nothing here could possibly be said to be epic. We get 7-minute tracks, by all means, but 7-minute tracks that go precisely nowhere. That's never a definition of "epic".
In conclusion, stay away from this one. I don't know why Summoning get such wonderful reviews, really, because they simply don't have the ability to put out good music.
Lugburz is the first of Summoning's albums, often considered a demo release, though in reality it is a full fledged album. Summoning on here create a style very much unlike anything else they're done. The sound is much more of the Austrian black metal sound along the lines of Abigor. Meaning more complex melodic riffs tied together by a very neo-classical sense of writing. However Summoning on here are still much more minimal then Abigor, one can hear the roots of the minimal yet neo-classical feeling that they would continue on from Minas Morgul on.
The big difference here is the drum sound, as this has a real drummer. At first that was the biggest thing for me to get over, as the sound is very organic and slightly underproduced. But still there are mountains of reverb on the drums, which is something they would always continue to do. The guitars also have a great deal of reverb, and seem to be played in a cavern of sound. The vocals perhaps have the most reverb, and they scream with a passion and intensity that marks everything Silenius did at this point. Maybe not as intense as his work with Abigor at this time or his work on Minas Morgul, but still one of the best aspects. The bass is not usually highlighted (except on a few songs), leaving nearly all of the musical focus on the guitars. They do indeed manage to shine, with excellent riffs that do seem to weave patterns of sound and vision that create the dark medievalist and Tolkien atmosphere that Summoning would later rely on keyboards to capture.
The other big surprise from this album is that there are almost no keyboards. Except the intro and a few sections on the album this is pretty much keyboard-less. But with the raw sound and production, it's easy to understand why there's really not much in the way of keyboard work here. If I were to compare this to anything it would be to the Black Funeral album Empire of Blood, except with a more epic and medievalist sense of atmosphere. Both albums have a necro sense of production, but on the other side of Transilvanian Hunger, this is necro with a lot of reverb to seemingly create a dark almost gothic atmosphere. Also both albums have riffs that would seemingly sound "happy" yet combined with the dark evil presence of mind the almost "happy" sound is submerged into the dark world Summoning (and Black Funeral on that album) desire to create.
This is bleak and often quite evil black metal, and though very different from the rest of Summoning's albums is still effective at creating the medieval Tolkien-ish world they have always desired to invoke. Not the best place to start for those new to Summoning, it is however an essential release to own for anyone who likes Summoning, for despite the differences in sound it is still Summoning, and that does mean quality and intensity. An essential also for fans of bands like Burzum and Abigor.
Summoning is one of those bands that are hardly categorized because of their "deviant" approach in Metal making; however on this album the band can be easily labled Black Metal without thinking (in vein of the ingenius Burzum). Although the band didn't suffer from line-up changes as most bands do (and it's probably the reason why they suck after the debut) through their whole career, they only lost the drummer as he was ego and self-involved which caused them to kick him out (eventhough he composed some of the material on Lugburz)... which caused them to use the drum-machine after wards and their music didn't suffer from lacking a drummer at all.
Lugburz is a "tr00, kvlt" solid Black Metal album for the most part except for some keybaord passeges here and there in two or three songs, you won't find the mesmerizing atmospheres of Khazad Dum, nor would you find the gloriffying background melody in Nightshade Forests. Although this is a well-written Black Metal album, it suffers from major flaws: Aweful production (at least I don't like it), horrible vocaling, not the dark immortal loathing screams of "The Legend of the Master Ring," and that's what really disturb me about this album, and some boring riffs here and there, they are not through the whole album, but they exist which doesn't make this a masterpiece.
Grey Heavens: The album begins with this nice instrumental that sets a mood of quietude and inspiration, and serves as a calm-before-the-flood kind of intro. It starts with the sound of the sea waves along with some keyboards and then enters some gentle drums in the background... it kind of remind me of the intro to the album Minus Morgul, but this one is better, it doesn't force you to skip it everytime you play the CD.
Beyond Bloodred Horizons: The first real song rises agressively from the ashes of the aesthetic beauty of the intro instrumental track with an old-school guitar riff that soon mixes with the drums perfectly to force your neck to head-bang spontaniously. This is really a well-done song, though it's a bit repetitive and lacks all kinds of atmosphere but that doesn't cause any repulsiveness untill you listen to it many many times.
Flight of the Nazgul: Begins with a slow doomy riff that gets all brisk with the first sign of the double bass, and gets more melodic and rhythmic with the introduction of the screams. While the drums on this song isn't the typical of Black Metal, the riffs are dark and thrashy... and the first whispers of atmosphere can be heard on this song with an aesthetic keyboard break in the middle, it forces you out of your head-banging with a nice rest to chill a bit for almost a minute. Overall, this is definatly a stand out track that features all Lugburz's elements with a bit of atmosphere and amazing guitar work, and simple static-paced drumming. One of the best on this Black Metal jewel.
Where Winters Forever Cry: The first thing I thought of when I listened to this song for the first time was Burzum's Burzum guitar riffs, slow and depressive and has the same sound, however this thought is soon vanished as you hear the really queer frogy vocals, and that's, probably, the only thing I don't like about this song, the vocals; they sound like a frog calling for the female during mating season... apart from the vocals, the song has solid guitar work, and good drumming, without any keyboards. Can get boring after some listens, still amazing nevertheless; definatly a highlight.
Through the Valley of the Frozen Kingdom: While the title seems interisting, the song itself is much more interisting and it has much to give as the incredibly well-written guitar riff, and the atmosphere in the background (it's totally unnoticed though) and the variety of the vocal approach. It has thrashy hasty moments, and slow melancholic moments, and it gets so bloodcurdling at 5:03 and it vanishes to a delibratly slow pace all of a sudden and slow drumming before it fades to black.
Raising With the Battle: starts normally and ordinary till it gets kind of fast, and the typical Black Metal drumming begins its job, then it gets back again the "normality," the riffs are not so memorable except for the part excactly at 2:50, where the song gets kind of doomy for about a minute then it gets amazing, with blast beat drumming and rock solid guitar playing... after that minute the song gets kind of boring, and forgetable. This song has the most stand-out "moments" of Lugburz, however the rest of the song is boring and dull.
Master of the Old Lure: As the song began you hear the double bass doing nice solo, I actually like songs that begin with a double bass, however my expectations were doomed as the song progressed. Although this song can't be called bad, it is somehow boring and it has to take some time to grow on you, and when it does you'll find yourself bored the heck of it. The only thing that can prevent you from skipping the song, is the drumming at the last part which is attractive to your ear. Can be skipped after some listens.
Between Light and Darkness: This song is so forgetable, and it really has nothing to offer, it doesn't reach anywhere with anything. I'd rather skip this one, cuz it can get boring....
The Eternal Lands of Fire: "Cry," the screaming monster shrieks with it to give you a feeling of awe, and the whole background music serves for this purpose also, and the change in the vocal style. While this song has nice variety of vocaling, it's not good either at least till it reaches 2:30 where an awesome riff starts to evoke your deepest feelings of heaviness.
Dragons of Time: You'll hear the atmospheres at the very first second of this unlike the rest of the album, the riffs are not noticed though, and the vocals remind me of an animal being tortured. The real song starts at 1:20 with a double bass solo all of a sudden and the atmosphere disapeares all of sudden, and the song gets closer to the "tr00" Black Metal sound. Some clean vocals or "spoken" parts can be heard here to give an "eerie" feeling along with the sound of the wind. This song has it's moments and definatly a highlight, and can be a definning of Summoning in Lugburz.
Moondance: Unlike it's "romantic" title, the song is far from romantic. Again the vocals are irritating frogy shrieks tha really get on my nerves. The riffs are easly forgotten. The drumming is as Black Metal as it gets... what keeps you interested is the awesome break out from the Black Metal war, to a sea of emotions done by the so aesthetic, artistic, beautiful keyboard parts, and the only thing that puts the atmosphere deep in the ground are the so disturbing vocals. This is a stand-out track and one of the best, though it has some flaws.
If you're a fan of "Stronghold" and "Let Mortal Heros Sing Your Fame" that's most probably not you're cup of tea, and you would find it totally unbearable, and unlistenable. However if you like to hear the raw Black Metal sound of Summoning at infancy, don't hesitate getting hold of this, or if you're a die-hard Summoning fan (like myself), it's not regretable.
It is not really a must-have, but if you miss Burzum's Aske, then grab a listen to this album it's not as genius, but it's not any bad either.