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Majestic ambient-styled BM with unique qualities - 83%

stefan86, December 25th, 2004

This for sure is one of the most interesting bands I've come across. I've never been big on Black Metal but Summoning is really cool, and unique as well. "Stronghold" is best described as a medieval-styled symphonic BM album with a lot of ambient stuff going on. The drums are all electronic and the guitars are merely there to do an occasional melody to accompany the synthetic background. Vocals are quite typically Black Metal-styled.

What makes this so damn sweet is the fact that they take it to such extreme epic proportions. The songs are long (all around six or seven minutes) and all based around the same elements. Masterful ambient melodies colored by the occasional stride of guitarwork and Black Metal shrieks. "Where Hope And Daylight Die" is the only song not to feature the shrieks, as it has a female operatic voice instead. And it's a true surprise how well that works out in this particular case.

Towards the end, the strength of the album also does become its weakness. All of the tracks, while maintaining quality, are pretty much crafted in the same exact fashion. It does become too much of the same treat. That can discourage me from listening to the entire album when I'm not fully in the mood for it. The female vocals of "where Hope And Daylight Dies" do provide some variation but it's not enough to make "Stronghold" 100% consistent.

Still, it's no doubt in my mind that this is a very good release. The soundscape is addictive as Summoning unleash epic melodies and grabs the listener by the neck, leaving him to sink into the majesty of their fantasy tales. In terms of taking it to epic proportions, few albums can compete against "Stronghold".