Friday, April 26, 2013
Summoning " Old Mornings Dawn"
Actual Occultists don't listen to much we would consider heavy , sure their are exceptions to this I cm think of a handful including my self who do listen to metal , though some top off at Nightwish or Amorphis. Most think stuff like Death in June is edgey listening and Dead Can Dance or Peter Gabriel's soundtrack to the last temptation of Christ is more standard fare though many of a more Celtic current prefer Medieval Babies or something more filking. I did a review of a Negura Bunget album for a esoteric publication as I think there might be some crossover appeal an do think the same can be said of the new Summoning.
There lyrical content is not metaphysical but more based around authors like Tolkein and Moorcock, I'm surprised the game of thrones series hasn't come up , but those books aren't as mystical in nature. These guys really rock the shire for sure. The more folk elements aren't center stage but they aren't lost in the back ground either. Programmed drum sounds have come along way as the drums don't have the stiffness you think they might have . The keyboard sounds to replicate ethnic instruments leaves them sounding a little thin but the overall effect works, in fact I think the metal elements could have been placed more forward in the mix. notice I said elements there as this really will push the definition of what a metal album is even for fans of folk metal. I think this makes this album a more intresting listen than something like Finntroll where it seems that's an afterthought.
"Flammifer" an Ambiant instrumental opening sequence so for out purposes here is the first actual song. I think this is closer to folk metal than black metal unless we are talking about certain time periods of Bathory. The ethic instrumentation works better on this song than later in the album. The guitar sound could have been e.q'ed better and production problems are the albums weak points as the songs are written with very clear vision of what is trying to be accomplished.
The quality of some of the synthetic ethic sounds gets called into question a little when " Old Mornings Dawn" opens.The earthy warmth bands who actually record these types of sounds is not here to be conveyed and leaves things a little thin. The vocals have a little more rasp to them. The song stays at an epic march, there's not a blast neat to be found on this. They do manage to get a big epic fantasy sound with what they are working with here, even as the muddied fuzz of the guitar could use some thickening. The big choral chant that comes in lends some weight to the cinematic scope they are going for. After repeat listens this one strikes me from the stand point of its arrangement as being almost dynamically flat as the song hammers away at the one thing it does.
The guitar does get cranked up on "The White Tower" though the drums do not get the same courtesy and this makes it more obvious they aren't real. The vocals are black metal in their delivery you can hear where Bathory and Ulver have come into play as influences. The keyboard melodies really sit well atop the melancholy drone of the guitar. The harsh croak almost take . In the way the guitar drones it also reminds me of the more recent releases by Burzum. I think this song could use a little dynamic variation even though the moodiness it's created it compelling, the is just a lot more of the same in the arrangement, particularly since the song clocks in at almost ten minutes.
Things stay in a similar realm of mist before the dawn on " Caradhras" where certain keyboard sounds more authentic than others ,mthe drums come in sounding like "When Doves Cry" . The vocals somehow manage to mke all this have the illusion of being cohesive. The guitar could stand to be more prominent and the bass if higher would have given more drive. The parts where the production is lacking does it a rawer more "Cvlt" sound i suppose. The song does have more ebb and flow in its arrangement than "White Tower". The big mead hall sing long that comes in during the final four minutes helps carry the song and the very fact other elements weave in and out of the songs fabric compensates.
The electronic drums show a little more heft in the very Dead Can Dance like feel to the intro to "Of Pale White Morn" which takes a more epic soundtrack turn at the two minute mark, but the drone of ambience keeps it's course.
In the what would Quorthon do column , it would be crank the bass up when the keyboards build and aggressive drumming would have aided the cause.
I'm waiting for Andrew Eldritch to come in over the keyboards of " The Wandering Fire" . This is a positive as it means it has a dark majestic nature that is almost goth. The vocals are the heaviest part this album. It's like black metal karaoke over the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. The piano intro to " Earthshine" keeps it from feeling like a continuation of the first song. What I really like about this is how the vocals flow over the music that would otherwise be almost easy listen or new age. The guitar while metal by definition is just changing on chords and not doing anything more menacing than Trans Siberian Orchestra. The vocals have a rasp to the, but aren't growled and have a lot of passion in their melody giving it almost a cure like feel.
I'm going to the Renn Fest tomorrow and you better believe this will be blaring when we roll up, but even considering the unique place this album holds on my iPod, the question is how much mileage to I think I'm going to get out of this one, so I'll round this down to an 8. Fans of folk metal might want to round this back up a point but I think for the questionable production on the guitar alone leaves an 8 as high as this album might climb and we shall see how much staying power it carries in its sheath.