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Summoning has, over the years, developed as a group. The musical dynamic evolved from the raw traditionalism of Lugburz to an epic experimentation with Dol Guldur. The album that was a true turning point was Stronghold, adding orchestration, and many other expansive aspects that truly matured their music. Their next turning point was Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame. Their style again aged and grew, and began to use the guitar not as a main instrument, but a part of the massive synthetic orchestra they had constructed. In my opinion, this is the best version of Summoning.
But of course, like in every band, change was inevitable. Hearing the preview that was released a while back, I could instantly immerse myself in the small clip, but at the same time had some doubts. There seemed to be an odd underlying effect on the album that separated it from Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, and my personal favorite at the time, Oath Bound. Instead of the regal, powerful horn filled melodies that were present in the two albums beforehand, Old Mornings Dawn seemed to have a different feel. A true sense of fantasy, which, although present on both forementioned albums, never really was a musical theme (aside from lyrically.)
However, despite my doubts, my love for Summoning's work took hold, and I quickly coughed up the money for the newest album. I waited for months, forcing myself to not give in the the numerous leaks that came around. The preorder came, and I instantly put it in my CD player. While the new qualities that I spoke of were heavily present, listening through the full album was incredible. The orchestration is top quality, the use of a male chorus was truly impressive, and of course, the writing was their best yet, following the ever growing writing prowess that Summoning possessed. The album's atmosphere is fantastic, and could quickly bring someone thoughts of Middle Earth. Definitely impressive.
On the surface alone, it seems that the quality of instrument samples and overall musicality have increased. The horns in the intro to the title track are top notch, and really ring out, a definite improvement on past albums. The writing has had some improvement too, utilizing every instrument. The drums are, as always, the perfect accompaniment to the writing of Protector and Silenius. The vocals are even of a higher caliber, although not by much. There seems to be a large amount of effort put into the album, which completely justifies the seven year gap.
Going deeper, the lyrics tie the powerful melodies and instrumentation. Poetic tools come into play in most of the songs. While it's plain to see that the musicality of Old Mornings Dawn is the omnipresent factor in the album's success, the vocal work is an impressive and necessary accompaniment. Where many have failed at the style, Summoning effortlessly continues to master writing and execution, creating vast soundscapes. Much like Oath Bound, the orchestration was greatly utilized, bringing a new sheen to the formidible sounds Protector and Silenius continue to create, and I don't normally care for samples in songs, but the samples used seemed to create a story. While simple, this added feature enhanced my listening experience greatly.
Some would be disappointed that the album moves away from the black metal style, but I welcome it. While Lugburz was a great album, it's plain to see that this is where the duo thrive musically. Of course, that's not to say that their style is no longer black metal by any regards, it just means that the band is maturing and experimenting, like any great group would, and I fully welcome the experimentation, as every album impresses me more and more.
What stuck out most to me was my enjoyment of the immersive fantasy aspect. The regality was still there, but was paired and fused with the new elements of writing. Not a campy, Tolkien wannabe's cheap musical ode, but a well thought out, almost flawlessly written series of opuses in a fantasy style. I believe that Old Mornings Dawn was an evolution. Not nearly as massive of a switch from Nightshade Forests and Stronghold to Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, but an evolution that is in steps. This is now easily my favorite album, and I look forward to Summoning's next masterpiece, and the next step in the evolution.