Album: With Doom We Come
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: January 5, 2018
Summoning are a name that’s often spoken with reverence in black metal circles, and rightly so. An Austrian band with a superior discography of folk-tinged black metal full of Tolkien mysticism, they’ve forged a sound all their own and have spawned a number of acolytes in their style like Caladan Brood, Elffor, Kinstrife & Blood (reviewed by yours truly here) and many others.
It’s been a long five-year wait for “With Doom We Come,” an album that was evidently built on the ashes of leftover material from “Old Morning’s Dawn,” and the sound reflects that; it doesn’t deviate grossly from that style and is a continuation of the triumphant, wistful and morose atmosphere. Their sound has gradually relegated the guitars to a background instrument, buzzing hypnotically behind it all, providing a subtle drive to the steadfastly mid-paced music. The synth, vocals and drumming take the reins as the songs march along martially, rife with triumphant sounds of trumpets, flutes and choirs. The atmosphere is rich as it is, and is even greater for those familiar with Tolkien’s work. Rather than prattling on about elves and junk here, I’d encourage you to look up the stories behind the song titles, it just makes everything all the more vivid.
The vocals are a light departure from previous albums; Protector’s deeper and gravelly voice is more prominent and contrasts starkly with Silenius’ harsher, distant shrieks. This provides a variety from track to track without severely breaking ranks with their established sound, and while I have no problems with it, I suspect it will take some fans aback. The band have described “With Doom We Come” as a little brother to “Old Mornings Dawn,” and that’s an accurate description. While being very much in the same vein, it’s a more subtle release that isn’t as immediately bombastic and urgent as “Old Mornings Dawn.” Songs like “Silvertine” and the sorrowful “Mirklands” are slower burns, steadily building up as they go rather than authoritatively asserting their presence from the get-go like many songs on “Old Mornings Dawn.”
Those who purchased the box set edition of “With Doom We Come” received an extra CD, a patch with the eye of Sauron sigil, an etched “the one” ring with the Summoning logo (neat but ultimately useless – I’m still visible), and a large, nicely printed flag bearing the album cover. The extra CD, titled “As Echoes from the World of Old,” contains two tracks totaling roughly fourteen minutes, with an epic nine-minute track being followed by a voiceless closer. It’s essentially an epilogue to the album, and while wanting to pay extra for a quarter hour of Summoning music will vary by listener, these two songs will probably be worth it for fans who found the five and seven year gaps between the last few albums to be a bit much.
“With Doom We Come” shows Summoning returning as strong as ever. Their core sound hasn’t changed from the plodding, oneiric soundscapes we’ve come to know and love, but they offer up a few surprises here and there in a vibrantly atmospheric album. It might not necessarily be the first Summoning album I’d point out to someone who’s never heard them before, but “With Doom We Come” holds its own and will carry you to the distant lands of enchanted forests and battle-worn fortresses that have adorned so many of their album covers.
You can find Voidhanger on twitter.