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Uninspiringly raw - 30%

kapitankraut, February 3rd, 2008

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.