Summoning - Oath Bound
Napalm Records
Epic Blackened Metal
8 songs (69'08")
Release year: 2006
Summoning, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex

One of the most indecipherable cult logos, mystic bandmembers’ pictures which get more and more cryptic as this band evolves, steadfast unbending approach to their art, the sound you will immediately recognize and will not confuse with anyone else – all of these attributes point into the direction of the Austrian epic duo Summoning.

I am amazed and a little bit envious how Silenius (Michael Gregor) and Protector (Richard Lederer) can maintain their friendship and cooperation over all these years. More than 10 years now, to be exact. Why envious? I have friends, but not the ones who are willing to share my vision for that long. I am imagining Silenius and Protector have their own internal differences, but the band maintains their focus squarely on the epic art they carry out. Summoning, in my view, are functioning as a scientific laboratory, experimenting on large scale, while making incremental changes all along the way. The band always seems to proceed methodically, changing only a few elements at a time from one album to another, especially in their modern era which I put somewhere around the release of Stronghold.

In this regard Oath Bound is a pretty logical continuation of Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame. Tolkien inspired epic landscapes professed through repeating woven synthesizer melodies laid down to intricate, but minimalistic, drums. If anything, the polyphony of Summoning keyboards has gotten stronger on Oath Bound. There are more overlaying themes playing through the same song. I am using “minimalistic” term for drums, because once the rhythm/tempo of the song sets, the programming rarely changes, but Summoning are one of the best to convert their electronic drum machine into the beating war drums one song and softer waltz the other.

One of the biggest additions on Oath Bound is a much bigger guitar role, connecting the album to the band’s black metal roots. The guitars on the album are very audible, but they come in the form of the completely distorted fuzzed out background, over which keyboard riffs are being played. Such guitar use gives the album a certain edge of rawness, even more so, when this slow buzzsaw is allowed to go on its melodic sweeps (Beleriand) replacing the majestic keys in that role.

Summoning vocals, whether Silenius or Protector are handling them (alternating tracks) are still, most of the time, powerful exhales of banshees or ravens perched atop the pedestal overlooking the dark forces gathering in the distance. Yet, Oath Bound contains some clean passages and choir work, another addition in the Summoning repertoire evolution (Land of the Dead). That, I am guessing, could be lyrically connected, as Summoning is showing Middle Earth conflicts from different sides of the aisle.

Summoning booklets generally do not contain lyrics. You have to go to the website for that, and, in the absence of the opportunity, I love to fantasize setting out my own imaginary pictures of the stories developing with the band’s compositions. Across the Streaming Tide is powerful, heroic and almost jerks a tear when the voice, synthesizer riffs and drums join forces in a crescendo. Mirdautas Vras, on the other hand, is clearly the orc army marching, even singing in orcish tongue, armor clinking, Uruk-Hai shouting their battle cries, believing, nevertheless, in their own righteousness. Beleriand has the armies unfurl their banners underneath the woods which tops are just touched by the dawn. Northward is Valpurgian Night mysterious and Menegroth is folky, triumphant and jubilant. The closer Land of the Dead is serene, with its spirit rising up to the sky.

Summoning do continuously repeat the parts of their songs, and their “thematic” nature can wear on a listener. You have to be really embracing this fantasy, slightly darkened atmosphere to completely enjoy Oath Bound. I certainly do, and think that you can’t claim to have experienced epic metal until at least one Summoning record surfaces in your collection.

In closing I have to say that if Peter Jackson had any guts he had to be soliciting Summoning efforts to produce the soundtrack to his Lord of the Rings. If there is any metal band that understands Tolkien’s spirit, it has to be the Silenius/Protector combo.

Killing Songs :
Across the Streaming Tide, Menegroth, Land of the Dead
Alex quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Summoning that we have reviewed:
Summoning - Minas Morgul reviewed by Andy and quoted CLASSIC
Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn reviewed by Andy and quoted 91 / 100
Summoning - Dol Guldur reviewed by Tony and quoted 92 / 100
Summoning - Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame reviewed by Alex and quoted 81 / 100
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