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Beautifully hypnotic - 97%

The_Ippocalypse, June 29th, 2007

What is the measure of a legendary and original (metal) album? Furthermore, how does one go about reviewing a work such as "Dol Guldur", a task more complicated by the amorphous nature of the album? The answers to both questions are revealed through repeated and thoughtful listening of the album in question, for everything about "Dol Guldur", which must stand as Summoning's greatest effort, is simultaneously a testament to both the originality and beauty that is capable of being displayed in modern music as well as the pointlessness of rigidly classifying a composition of such grandeur as strictly belonging to one genre or the other, an act which is bound to disappoint the reviewer in question, as this album is not strictly metal, nor is it strictly ambient or anything else.

I have always had the impression from these Austrian geniuses that their music was always about creating a powerful, lasting impression on the listener. This entails a process that involves being hypnotised by the multiple, non-linear layers of melody present in each lengthy composition (six of the eight tracks on Dol Guldur are near or longer than 10 minutes in length, with none of the verse-chorus-verse structure of "common" music), rather than creating a visceral, knockout first impression (fans of blast-beats and 220 beat-per-minute rhythms need not apply) which by its very nature is dependent on expelling so much energy in its execution such that repeated listening offers little to no rewards, and more despairingly, belie the intellect and effort that went into the composition to begin with. While some artists in the black metal or atmospheric metal genres strive for image over substance, for instant gratification over greater meaning and satisfaction (is it really necessary for me to provide names here?), Protector and Silenius seem to grant their audience a great deal more intellectual credit and instead choose to craft low-tempo, multi-layered, complex compositions that, like a flower in bloom, are constantly revealing more facets of themselves over time.

There is a sense of familiarity throughout the album that one feels, in the sense that from "Angbands Schmeiden" until "Over Old Hills" one is utterly immersed in the sonic landscape that is being presented. While other albums, such as (for instance) "Drawing Down The Moon" from Beherit or "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" from Burzum are equally captivating in their ambiance, there is something else on display in "Dol Guldur" that elevates it to utter majesty. Specifically, in this reviewer's opinion, whereas most death and black metal involve themes of destruction and more generally criticism of existing structures, "Dol Guldur" (and all other Summoning albums, though to varying degrees) exudes a confidence about the success of the ideals professed by the genre. To conclude, by listening to "Gol Duldur" in its totality, not only will you be hypnotised, but you will leave the experience feeling liberated in at least some sense, for the message of this album is that, at some point in time, be it far in the past or at some time in the future, the need for conflict may be negated as the purveyors of ancient, noble ideals will be utterly triumphant.