Various Artists - In Mordor Where the Shadows Are - Homage to Summoning
Wolfspell Records
Black metal / ambient / combinations thereof
21 songs (167' 49")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Andy

I really couldn't resist this one. Summoning's one of those bands that you either immediately get into or ignore, and I'm definitely in the former category; a collection of obscure but high-quality black metal bands paying homage to their influence is too much to pass up, even at the high-for-Bandcamp price of 14 euros just for digital-only. But plenty of Summoning tributes have been slapped together in the past, with the songs all too often massacred by the would-be worshippers, whose love for their influence far outstrips their musical ability. What makes this so different?

For one thing, the bands are stronger picks than usual. Caladan Brood, who we reviewed here a few years ago, was the most-anticipated by myself, but Azaghal and Wyrd have a solid reputation too. The songs are different enough for the bands to put their own mark on the selections, and the bands take aim at wider material, not just the hits but also the more controversial early and late-period albums. Mesarthim makes Grey Havens, a short little synth-intro track in its original form, into a four-and-a-half-minute symphonic black metal masterwork, more like a Summoning piece than it ever was at first, and it's impressive; Sakristei's treatment of its intro is not quite as amazing, but puts a greater edge of watchfulness and menace into the song. Others are more conventional; Azaghal gives their track the straightforward competence they are known for, without major changes. No matter which way the listener leans, there are a lot to choose from; there are 21 tracks and one is hard-pressed to find a single dud.

The other thing I like on this compilation is the nice production. The reason the tight, compressed saw-edge of the guitars on Kalmankantaja's cover of Through the Forest of Dol Guldur comes off so well against the acoustic plinking of the intro has a lot to do with that production, and most of the bands, though keeping their own sound in the mix, have that big reverb echo classic Summoning was known for. Midnight Odyssey's contribution, in particular, definitely sounds like a Midnight Odyssey song, all clean, cold male vocals -- an odd contrast since they picked the one song in Summoning's discography with female vocals. Caladan Brood is just as good as expected, their dreamy sound giving Farewell a more fantasy-oriented vibe than the epic heroism of the first one; I also got a kick out of Elderwind's Flammifer, a faster and more driving version with a quick beat on the chorus.

This is a high-quality collection, created by a ridiculously large group of Summoning-influenced bands who are strong metal acts in their own right, spanning the range of folk, black metal, ambient, and darkwave. It would probably be a decent listen for any ambient black metal fan, but if Summoning is your favorite band, grab it for sure.


Killing Songs :
Grey Havens, Through the Forest of Dol Guldur, Farewell, Flammifer
Andy quoted no quote
Other albums by Various Artists that we have reviewed:
Various Artists - Brutal Africa: The Heavy Metal Cowboys of Botswana reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Various Artists - Servants of Chaos II reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Various Artists - A Light in the Black : A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Various Artists - Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head reviewed by Stefan and quoted No Quote
Various Artists - Illud Divinum Insanus - The Remixes reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
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