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Summoning - Lost Tales
Review: This release contains two demo tracks that were sketches, or sparse versions of good ideas, that stood on their own enough that Summoning released them as it, probably out of a sentimental urge to not rework tracks that captured very specific emotions even if the end result feels somewhat incomplete. These tracks, sounding like they were encoded in low-grade MP3s and then copied to tape, show us unfinished options full of promise.
The first, "Arcenstone," is pure medieval synthpop with percussion similar to that found on Nightshade Forests over which sampled movie lines, glacial four-note keyboard melodies, and a nearly spoken vocal with rhythms similar to those of Kraftwerk sound. Layers are used to great effect in this song, complex with techno-style absent percussion breakdowns, but it seems more like an extended introduction than a song which conveys us from one point to another. Its simple melody is one of the more beautiful versions of familiar Summoning themes; apparently, it was designed for a second project.
The second song, "Saruman," follows the more boisterous style of Stronghold with overactive drums, flashy keyboards and dominating vocals, makes too much use of sampled voices and very basic melodies that deconstruct the "Summoning method" of making longer complementary motif pairs and reduce it to carnival music.
In it we see the problem of Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame and Stronghold, which is a somewhat more assembly-line production paired to formulaic music which drives away much of the randomness, ambiguity and mystical moods of earlier Summoning. Lost Tales may be worth owning for the first track, but there's also a sense of how much more intensity these tracks could have had if given the treatment of material on Oath Bound instead of the preceding two albums.