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For me, this is the best piece of music ever created. How can anything be so perfect? Most people say that Dol Guldur is the best Summoning album. Sure, it has a few amazing songs, but also 2 or 3 weaker songs, so as an overall album Stronghold is much better, because it has no bad songs in my opinion. I don't know what the other reviewers have against this album. I simply don't understand how they can't feel the beauty of the music.
Well, anyway, the atmosphere created on this album is slightly different compared to Summoning's previous works. It has less of the fantasy-feel, but more of a deep forest feel (for me at least). Also, if you look at the song titles, you will see that they didn't simply take names from the Tolkien universe (except for Rhûn). I have to admit that I didn't immediately fall in love with the album. It slowly grew on me. After the first 2 or 3 listens I would have given it 80% maybe, but after many more listens and after several weeks of listening to the album regularly, I came to the conclusion that this album is amazing. Each song has a very similar structure, but it doesn't matter at all, because they are all unique at the same time. The keyboard melodies are wonderful and the atmosphere that is created is a kind of dreamy atmosphere. Like I said before, I always picture a deep forest in the middle-age with a small path between the trees (don't ask me why). This is quite funny, because the cover actually shows a castle on a cliff and the album is called "Stronghold", but I don't think of a Stronghold at all while listening to it.
I like the Intro (Rhûn) a lot. I love the militar drum sound, and the fantastic keyboards adding to it later. A highlight on this album is the song "Where Hope And Daylight Die", where they used clean female vocals performed by Tania Borsky. That's a very nice idea to add some variety to the songs. Most of the songs start the same way: Beautiful keyboards, then the guitar kicks in, followed by the harsh vocals. Boring you think? No, not at all. At first I didn't like the production so much because I thought the sound quality was bad. But then I realized that the sound is clear, it's just the guitar riffs that are a bit dissorted and scratchy. The keyboards, drums and vocals are crystal-clear. The slightly dissorted guitars don't bother me at all anymore.
This album is a masterpiece. The mood and the atmosphere are wonderful. Buy this and see if you like it by yourself, don't let yourself influence by bad reviews too much.