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Summoning stood at a crossroads with this album, as the 'Nightshade Forests'-MCD had been the first one that was not able to top its predecessor. Could they once again record a marvellous album and make another step forward or would they suffer the same fate that Abigor suffered, never again to reach the level of 'Orkblut' and 'Nachthymnen' ? Well, Protector and Silenius chose the first opportunity. 'Stronghold' is exactly the album that I had hoped for. Perhaps not as intense as 'Dol Guldur', nevertheless a masterpiece, and not to forget (except for the copy-gays of Enid), still in its very own style. Marching computerdrums, haunting but always 'nice' synthsmelodies, great vocals (maybe its even a bit easier to understand them this time). But the main difference is obviously that for the first time the guitarlines are clearly available, you can clearly distinguish Protector´s art of playing, maybe it was a good choice to change the studio and record in Nachtschatten Studios this time? The production at least is great! But, of course, there's one point that I have to criticize, why the hell do as well Summoning use female vocals now ? Okay, she's not that bad, and she does fit to the atmosphere the song 'Where Hope And Daylight Die' creates, nevertheless I am convinced that there's no need of using female background vocals on Black Metal-albums. Alright, but I think you already know what to do, this is again a fantastic Summoning-album, and this band just gives us what we expect from them, no negative surprise, no negative experiments, just more than an hour of intense art, just pure Summoning !
Favourite Tracks: Long Lost To Where No Pathway Goes, The Glory Disappears, The Rotting Horse On The Deadly Ground
(Originally published in The Purgatory Of Grief 1999-2001 (RIP))