At the heights of the second black metal wave, a lot of the attention went to the Norwegian scene and how bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem, and Emperor were shaping this new, raw sound. That, unfortunately, led to some other scenes and artists being left slightly unnoticed by the majority of the fans, and one such case was the Austrian scene. The Austrian Black Metal Syndicate was a collection of bands that made their mark during that period, be it through the fantastical realms of Pazuzu, the pure, raw aggression of Abigor or the atmospheric grandeur of Summoning.
The former in this group proved to be a formidable force, releasing albums frequently since their 1995 debut Lugburz. The majestic worlds ofMinas Morgul and Dol Guldur followed in that trajectory arriving in 1995 and 1996 respectively, with Stronghold and Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fameconcluding the busy period of the band. Since then Summoning’s output has become sparser, and their travels to Middle-Earth (as if you could not notice this influence) have been arriving at a slower rate. Still, Oath Bound and Old Mornings Dawn featured some excellent specimen of the duo’s ambient approach and their new album With Doom We Come adds another strong chapter in the discography of Summoning.
The band is not looking to reinvent the formula with its latest record. Summoning has had one gear, and that has always been set to Arda’s frequency. To achieve this sound and be able to transfer the listener to these imaginary places, Summoning blend the atmospheric edge in the use of synths that expand the range of the instrumentation, with the raw production of the black metal scene. On the one hand, they implement these ethereal synth-based melodies, while on the other end they introduce the guitars with a lo-fi, harsh black metal quality that so adequately depicts the pitch back core of Summoning. While atmospheric black metal bands fall in the trap of leaving too much of the black metal identity behind or are failing to balance between the two tones, Summoning present a fierce example of cohesion between the earthy and the ethereal. The sound is grimy, but at the same time, the melodies its offers are sublime. The two elements are aiding each other, presenting a well-rounded sound and a complete result.
Despite the unyielding sound that has remained static since the mid-’90s, Summoning still feel the pull of Tolkien’s realm and have seemingly found an endless well of inspiration for their musical endeavors. From the ritualistic representations of “Tar-Carion” and “Silvertine”, the band explores the implications of an epic, processional sound. The opening track, in particular, sets the perfect tone for what follows in the record, casting a veil of darkness over the soundscapes while the narrating parts make the whole experience that more immersive. But, it is not that Summoning relies only on the epic side of atmospheric music, and also dives into more emotive territories with both the melancholic “Carcaroth” and especially the mournful “Herumor”. The bigger parts might be able to offer this imposing, towering manifestation, but it is the subtler melodies found for instance in “Mirklands” that morph this record into the dark gem that it is.
With Doom We Come is not an album that rewrites the story of Summoning, or one that expands the band’s scope and vision, those appear to be set in stone and will not be altered. It is a very strong album that carries with it an excellent tradition from a band that has been present for 25 years and has always stuck to its guns when it came to its sound crafting and the themes that come with it.