Death Metal Underground

Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn

by Brett Stevens
April 29, 2013 –

summoning-old_mornings_dawnAfter the first wave of Norwegian black metal entirely re-defined the genre into a melodic and intensely artistic form of music, it seemed metal had culminated. Its technique exploded in death metal, and with black metal, it began the process of creating narrative melodic compositions.

Summoning jumped into this heap by evolving from a relatively straightforward downtempo black metal band into a melange of keyboards, lengthy fast-picked slow melodic passages, and soundtrack-style framing of song structures in the context of atmospheric, Tolkien-inspired vaguely medievalist metal. Ever since they nailed that combination on Dol Guldur, Summoning has been a legend in the metal scene.

After the experiment in greater use of vocals and folk-like dynamics that was Stronghold, Summoning returned with Oath Bound, which edged them closer to the territory last explored on Dol Guldur before the music got more atmospheric on the Nightshade Forests EP. Seven years later, anticipation ran high for their latest, named Old Mornings Dawn.

Coming from the same creative wellspring as other Summoning works, Old Mornings Dawn channels three separate influences: the classic downtempo black metal of its origins, the “Renaissance Faire” style of folk/world music that it became, and an influence that can only be described as dark 1980s industrial goth pop. This album fits in with Joy Division, Soft Cell, Sisters of Mercy and other darker forms of synthpop and EBM, much in the same way that Nightshade Forests picked up similar influences. At the same time, hints of the Stronghold style where vocals lead composition help define these songs.

What is most pronounced on this album however is that Summoning are using the layered style that worked so well on not only Nightshade Forests but the Lost Tales EP as well, but have removed even more of the metal “forward” style narrative composition. Instead, these are circular compositions with layers, but in the best metal style, moods accrue and eventually force change into an entirely different but complementary riff. The result is a ferment of slightly differentiated influences fit into the only song structures that could incorporate them all. The result is like an exotic tour alongside a riverbank populated by fantastic figures from dreams.

Old Mornings Dawn is a creative journey into the recesses of the mind and embraces the sentimental alongside the epic, using its ambient structuring to immerse the listener in a world far beyond anything they have experienced. The result drifts farther from black metal without betraying black metal, and instead creates a voice unique to Summoning which sensibly does not try to be Dol Guldur II, but to create a niche for itself. Its decreased distance from the listener allows emotion to meld with music and create an atmosphere unique to this band and the spread of time they have chosen with their music.

Tags: ,

12 comments

  • John S.

    Too much routine for my taste. I feel like I’ve heard those melodies a thousand times before. “If I hear one more trumpet staccato, I’ll…”

    1. bitterman

      This was to be expected. They’ve been reiterating their 3rd album in more commercial or conventional ways for about 15 years now. It’s dull, yes, but the real evil is a new black metal project between Ihsahn and the band Trivium. Knowing the depths Ihsahn has fallen since 2001, new realms of poop shall be found. The new Atrocity sounds like Fear Factory fronted by David Vincent doing Theli era Therion covers. Mayhem’s last Deathspell Omega esque album was bad, but now they have a guitarist from a Slipknot esque band (who will write all the music). Satyricon is going to release another RATT album. Black Sabbath phoned in more drug money. Hypocrisy… well, it’s awful but at least they’re warning us about the Anunnaki’s imminent return, and when they hear about Diabolus in Musica, there will be hell to pay.

      1. John S.

        Hey, I liked Oath Bound, so I don’t mind their trying to present the same idea in mildly different ways. It’s just that this time around the presentation is not as inspiring. But I’m already starting to enjoy Old Mornings Dawn more, so Stevens is probably right again.

  • Jax Rectumburger

    Please review Mercyless Abject Offerings and Coloured Funeral. Intense death metal from France but different to Massacra.

  • Pingback: [Death Metal Underground] Summoning to release new EP, re-issue vinyl versions of older classic albums |  - Death Metal Underground -

  • 1349

    I’m starting to like this album almost as much as Dol Guldur.
    But of course it’s a bit too warm & sweet.