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An obvious difference that defines Summoning’s new album from the expansive, ultra-dynamic ‘Oath Bound’ is that whilst this is most certainly, and always will be the product of the same outfit, everything here is more streamlined. That is not necessarily a bad thing by any means.
Songs here are shorter in length, at around the 7 to 10 minute mark. This attention towards more immediacy in songs recalls a layout similar to ‘Stronghold’ and ‘Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame’, though retains the counterbalance of synthesisers and guitars as heard on ‘Dol Guldur’ and ‘Nightshade Forests’.
The epic scope of ‘Oath Bound’ prevails in the use of ideas, but ‘Old Mourning’s Dawn’ is more compact. It’s a sincere way for the duo to stay true to a set of principles that have always worked well for them, and an organic way of trying something different.
The use of multi-layered choral vocals make their way onto the title track, the closing epic ‘Earthshine’ and ‘Caradhras’, continuing a foray into more anthemic yet robust compositions, with the latter incorporating aesthetics familiar within Celtic music.
Tracks such as ‘Flammifier’ and ‘The Wandering Fire’ are absolute gems that act as a testament to Summoning’s ability to smoothly shift between exotic, neoclassical timbres within the epic narrative of black metal.
The neoclassical influence of Dead Can Dance, Arcana, and sister project Die Verbannten Kinder Evas is just as conspicuous as has always been. Streams of synthesised horns, harps and dulcimers retain a harmonious counterpoint with melodic guitar, driven by bombastic and martial percussion.
Any initial disappointment that would come on the back of their previous album would be inevitable, and subsequently ‘Old Mourning’s Dawn’ takes a matter of getting used to. What stands out on here at first sticks out like a sore thumb, but when given the chance to unfold itself, works brilliantly as a whole.
Summoning succeed on their latest full-length in the same manner as they have on most of their releases; they manage to express within their musical scope a romanticist and nostalgic ideal, one that emphasises the beauty of myth and lore, heroic and Apollonian.