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Everyone’s favorite Tolkien fan boys, Summoning, began their epic soundtrack like approach to music with Minas Morgul. Leaving more traditional black metal song structures behind, the band takes a deviant approach with circuitous synth melodies, borderline monotonous tremolo picking, and robotic sounding programmed drums. The result is a less than complete but nonetheless enjoyable transition into the atmospheric sound they are best known for today.
Once again Summoning derives an album title and lyrics from the works of Tolkien. Minas Morgul does an outstanding job bringing the Tolkien universe to life and capturing every awe inspiring ounce of it in the process. To me, Summoning seems more about eliciting a certain Tolkien spirit, and the synths and programmed drums are largely responsible for this, leaving the black metal-esque guitars and vocals as more of a lingering resonance.
But what better genre to attempt such a feat than black metal? The influences are still there as already mentioned, but they take a side seat to the epic if repetitious song structures. Keyboard elements, melodious as they are, do little in the way of variety. Each song opens with a set pattern and comes full circle more than once before arriving at its logical conclusion; they are the batter for our delicious musical cake. Guitars cut through this harmony without destroying it and add to the sense of grandeur, sort of like a nice fruit filling. The drums, while perfect and unflinching in their robotic efficiency, provide the frosting without being too sweet and increase the sense of majesty. Shrieking vocals seem dim compared to it all, but the added black metal flair is like sprinkles on top.
All in all, a solid piece of cake of epic size whose proportions are just right but whose flavors might get a little mixed up in the large serving. If you like repetitious song structures and getting lost in the epic feeling, buy now and don’t delay. Anyone else might feel a little lost. Expect neither pure black metal nor pure soundtrack and you’ll be alright.