Old Mornings Dawn

Written by: MST on 10/06/2013 21:51:04

When metal bands incorporate synths, alternative instrumentation and orchestral compositions into their music, fiery discussions between the world's metal elitists and fanboys are bound to follow. The latest Wintersun album is perhaps the best example: on that album, the guitars were completely drowned beneath the epic symphonic orchestrations and synths, a fact that completely turned many, including me, off the album. And yet when I listen to the immensely anticipated new album from the Austrian epic atmospheric black metal band Summoning, the compositions explained above are what makes it work. The expectations for "Old Mornings Dawn", the band's seventh opus and the first since 2006's "Oath Bound", have been enormous, and so have the reactions thus far.

So as was hinted at in the opening paragraph, the foundation for Summoning's music is black metal: distorted guitar riffs and black metal shrieks, with heavily reberberated, slowly pounding drums. On top of that we find keyboards, flutes, synths, brass instruments, violins and probably a whole bunch of other sounds that I cannot identify. From the very beginning, Richard "Protector" Lederer and Michael "Silenius" Gregor, the masterminds behind the Summoning moniker, have been massively inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien's novels about Middle-Earth, a fact that is obvious in song titles like "The White Tower" and "Caradhras" as well as in some of the lyrics. All of the above are factors that have made Summoning a highly regarded band in the underground, and this new album is yet another in a line of great releases.

After the fantastic intro, "Flammifer" properly opens the album with prominent guitar feedback, screamed vocals and some oriental-sounding string instruments, as well as some brass thrown in later in the song for good (epic) measure. It prepares the listener for the title track that comes afterwards, the lead single and my favourite song off the album. The flutes in the verses and the trompets/trombones in the chorus are what stands out in said title track along with the passionate vocals. The majestic compositions and the brilliant brass rhythms immediately get stuck in your head before an epic choir recalls earlier songs like the impossibly epic "Land of the Dead" from 2006's "Oath Bound". No two songs sound the same on "Old Mornings Dawn", and some even sound vastly different, like the melancholic "The White Tower" that follows the title track: being the most stripped down track on the album, the use of alternative instrumentation in the song is very limited as the surprisingly prominent riffs and the vocals become the important parts of the song with violins creating that little extra something here and there.

"Old Mornings Dawn" is by no means a perfect album; it has its ups and downs. The thing is though, that even the songs that don't stand out are so rock-solid that the whole album is enjoyable from start to finish even after numerous listens. This is due to the masterful way in which these Austrians have composed an album that utilizes a large amount of different instruments and sounds, in a way that it neither sounds overdone nor drowns out any of the important factors. The 7-year wait for "Old Mornings Dawn" was well worth it, but here's to hoping that we won't have to wait another seven years for the next in a (hopefully) long line of future releases by Summoning.

Download: Flammifer, Old Mornings Dawn, The White Tower, Of Pale White Morns And Darkened Eves
For The Fans Of: Windir, Falkenbach
Listen: Soundcloud

Release date: 07.06.2013
Napalm Records

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