Back in my high school days, I ran a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for a small group of friends (because being obsessed with heavy metal, pro wrestling and Star Wars just wasn’t quite nerdy enough). I wish I had known about legendary Austrian black metal duo Summoning back then, because they would’ve made one hell of a soundtrack for those late night RPG sessions. Listening to their latest album, With Doom We Come, takes me back to those days of planning out adventures for those intrepid make believe heroes, filled as they were with orcs, kobolds and of course the occasional dragon.
You see, Summoning’s brand of black metal has never been your typical blasting treble attack, as further evidenced by With Doom We Come. Silenius and Protector have created a unique style of BM that has more in common with fantasy film soundtracks than with other bands in the genre. The programmed drums sound like the war drums of a military band and the hypnotic, repetitive guitar riffs serve as a foundation for layers upon layers of synths which have been painstakingly designed to mimic brass, choirs and wind instruments. It’s still amazing even after two-and-a-half decades that just two band members are able to craft something so meticulously orchestrated.
But what’s really interesting about With Doom We Come is the atmosphere that Summoning is able to evoke so effortlessly. It is at times fantastical, at other times martial, but also strangely hazy and dreamy sounding, easily allowing the imagination to take flight while listening. Although the band has upped their production values starting with 2013’s Old Mornings Dawn, they’ve managed to retain this unique ambience, translating the literary works of JRR Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, etc.) into darkly epic soundscapes; strange music flowing freely from out of the shadows of Mordor.
With Doom We Come follows in much the same vein as the aforementioned Old Mornings Dawn from a production and compositional standpoint, though it does come off as a somewhat darker and more melancholic album, perhaps hewing closer to 2006’s Oath Bound in this respect. The songwriting at times doesn’t feel quite as strong as it’s been in the past, but Summoning still manages to produce compelling results more often than not, as evidenced by epic, immersive tracks such as “Carcharoth” “Mirklands” and “With Doom I Come.” Summoning have a knack for creating a total environment with their music and this defining trait is as strong as ever.
Although the album isn’t without its shortcomings, With Doom We Come is nonetheless a more than solid effort from the one of the greatest symphonic black metal bands on the damn planet. Summoning remains a band to be cherished and especially when one considers the fact that Silenius suffered a heart attack several years ago, With Doom We Come serves as an important reminder of just how lucky we are to have such an idiosyncratic pair of artists as part of the metal multiverse.
BONUS MATERIALS: Here’s a video of me talking more about the album, complete with historical inaccuracies and botched album title pronunciations!
Read an archival interview with the band here: https://thatshowkidsdie.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/interview-summoning/