It is interesting how fantasy novels draw Black Metal acts to them. Yet in truth, the tune they play is no ‘proper’ Black Metal anymore, if there ever was such a thing. Their theme morphed into some type of a sub-genre already some time ago. It remains blackened in a way, but definitely boasts that standalone, plasticky sound that fans will appreciate. A fantasy-laden musical landscape that these backyard studio metal bands exploit. And produce some sort of an over-exaggerated synthesizer-driven and almost artificial sound, decorated in dry, heaving rasps that became their trademark over the years.
Yet for some reason this formula really sticks. It portrays imaginary worlds of cold magic, wonder and epic battles that seem best expressed in lo-fi sounds that emerge straight from the misty lands they depict. And by preference with the heavy-duty drum machine on full display. In a cathedral, atmospheric setting with mighty pre-programmed riffs endlessly spooling off into the misty yonder. And you never know what lurks behind that hazy curtain that they paint so aptly.
The Austrian band Summoning and their trademark rap really pioneered this very special sub-genre of the Black Metal universe. This band reigned supreme for a long time, painting Middle-World in all these dreary colors that we have grown to appreciate.
Old Mornings Dawn, their 2013 offering, and – for sure – the 2006 edition Oath Bound already blew whatever came before in Summoning‘s illustrious career out of the water. Now their newest concoction, With Doom We Come, promises improvement. First and to my surprise some bite all of a sudden appears. Emotion, folks. Yet, once the tracks majestically take off, there is no mistaking where this sound originates from. No gallivanting about new horizons for Summoning, no sire.
But know, oh visitor to Tolkien’s world of wonders, that Protector and Silenius face mighty competition. Not only have the copycats of Caladan Brood left a mighty mark on the genre. And yes, those decided to live by the standards of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, not Tolkien’s age-old yarn. But you cannot deny the oomph and unbridled power the boys from Utah brought to a synthie-plagued genre. Then again the genre coughed up Atmospheric Black Metal acts like Sojourner or Ashbringer that exploit pretty similar grounds. And those let the drum machine at home and come in with real musicians on real instruments. Get my drift?
So, as potential success goes, this paints a pretty dreary picture for With Doom We Come. The king kind of lost his crown and it rolled away and fell into this mystical lake where the monsters lurk. To add insult to injury, some of that stuff still sounds like the elevator tune of Disney’s House of Horrors. Mainly due to that sometimes atrocious mix straight from treble hell that the mastering could not fix and endlessly sends some elements into the left field.
But by and large, we got energy, anger and a more aggressive way to belt out them rasps. Something must have reached the wide wastes of Austria with news of new arrivals. But if you look for innovation, come again. ‘Tis the same formula all over again, stubbornly applied.
With Doom We Come starts cold turkey. Straight on an empty stomach with the monologue in Tar-Calion, clear voice and pretty impressive drama. Yet, somehow I already missed this feeling of battle, of ice-cold temper so prevalent in Oath Bound. Even if Summoning tries to inject way more emotion into their tune than Old Mornings Dawn ever possessed.
Their cathedral, epic sound then kind of sets in to the point of turning into some sort of background music at times. Not all is lost, though. You will find shining beacons of pretty cool quality like Silvertine or Mirklands on this record. Wrapped in endlessly repeating riffs somber atmospheres lurk with sometimes haunting melodies. Tasty arrangement of keys, with flutes, drums and the ubiquitous riffing add much needed spice to the record. And sometimes the riffs elevate above the fold and become very visible, ending in something awesome. Now, let me point out the epic With Doom I Come, the almost title track. Summoning pretty much pull out the stops and go full hammer Caladan Brood on it. A stellar track with a grandiose ending to boot and a fitting finale to a pretty sturdy new album.
Ultimately you will find no mind-blowing change in With Doom We Come. Summoning went ahead and delivered another well-rounded album in their typical style and very own magical formula. The band indeed injected a few more nuances and – I daresay – some additional oomph into their tune. Yet, this record still remains pretty close to its predecessors. But it will in no way blow Oath Bound out of the water, impressive as it may be.
I find it interesting that Silenius and Protector doggedly plow on with their well-known theme, when they know that their copiers and freeloaders are about to outpace them. One could argue that none of their brethren chose Tolkien as their back story. But that is beside the point. The others’ hunting grounds are sufficiently close to generate competition. And it is mighty competition. Let’s just hope that Caladan Brood remain mute and will not come in with another killer album. This very same year, like they did previously. Remember?
[Editor’s note: The record successfully made it onto the Intermittent Digest – Tome VII. Contrats!]
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