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After listening to Summoning’s Oath Bound the first word that came to mind was “epic.” Months later it is the same word I use to describe this album. Epic is a vague word and can be used to describe a lot of metal, but Summoning have perfectly used the right ingredients to make a larger-than-life album without going over the top and becoming cheesy or generic. In fact originality is something that Summoning have become known for since their 1994 debut Lugburz. This is due to the things that fans have come to expect from the duo of Summoning such as excellent musicianship, great and somewhat unconventional vocals, and of course, music inspired primarily by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Summoning haven’t necessarily made a huge evolutionary transformation throughout their career but with Oath Bound they seem to have put more emphasis on the atmosphere by making lengthy songs that grasp the listener throughout the duration and entrance them into a fantasy world. To say this album is a concept album would be misleading but the songs beautifully flow into one another, making it hard to listen to just one at a time. Samples are used but not abused and are only placed within a song when it adds to the feel (Mirdautas Vras) which is also apparently the only song in the world with all of the lyrics in the Black Tongue. Choirs are used in several songs but once again, only where necessary and where they will add something to the track. In fact on my personal favourite Might and Glory the choir is one of the highlights of the album and on Land of the Dead it makes a great conclusion to the CD. It was tempting to give this album a perfect 100% score but there are times near the middle where the music begins to get repetitive and moments where you find there are things that just aren’t adding to the big picture. Needless to say these rare moments do not impair or overshadow the many more magnificent moments of the music and are soon forgotten.
Keyboards are used effectively on this release and definitely do not smother the rest of the music like some other bands. Guitar is a highlight but also used minimally and only when needed. As mentioned earlier the raspy vocal shrieks seem somewhat unconventional in that they are used in a background sort of way, as if they are just another instrument being added to the sound which I found most interesting.
It’s hard to think of whom to recommend this album to as it is very unique sounding. Nevertheless it certainly isn’t hard to appreciate. Summoning have really created something special with Oath Bound, something that should not be overlooked or underrated.