Summoning- Old Mornings Dawn

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, May 19, 2013

Austria’s Summoning has been creating their own style of atmospheric black metal for two decades, and this year’s Old Mornings Dawn is their first full length in nearly seven years. Despite the long gap between releases, the group hasn’t lost their touch at all and continued to put out majestic soundscapes that will take listeners on an adventure. It may feel familiar to some of the ideas that Summoning has pulled from in the past, but there are few bands out there that can create this type of breathtaking atmosphere and as a result this is another noteworthy effort.

While the slower, distorted guitar riffs maintain some black metal elements the additional instrumentation is what really makes Old Mornings Dawn stand out. Like many past Summoning albums, this one is a lengthy effort that spans over an hour in length and each of the songs builds up slowly. A wide variety of additional instruments are layered over the guitar work including horns, keyboards, and percussion to provide full soundscapes and despite the fact that the band tends to use the same tempos throughout each song has enough different elements to stand on its own. I know that Summoning has used programmed instruments for quite some time but I’m not quite sure what the mix of programmed/pre-recorded and live instrumentals are because everything sounds so natural. Old Mornings Dawn may be one of the fullest sounding efforts that this duo has put out to date, as the soundscapes build up to incredible levels of atmosphere and this is the type of material that you can close your eyes and imagine heading off into battle. Epic is a word that tends to be overused in metal, but Summoning’s combination of harsher distortion and light folk instrumentals build up in a way that will have your imagination running wild and they have definitely earned this tag once again. One of my favorite moments is the closing track “Earthshine” where flute and percussion intertwine with the guitar riffs to create a truly majestic experience, and there are plenty of other songs that are able to reach this same level.

Summoning’s vocals are one of the areas where they still have a prominent black metal influence, as the primary style is a harsher shriek that adds to the lower end of the group’s sound. But rather than sticking with the same type of shriek or scream the entire time, there’s a decent amount of variation as there are moments where the vocals open up into a much clearer, commanding pitch. The vocals have a tendency to be overshadowed by the fullness of the instrumental arrangements, and there are plenty of times where they get swallowed up. There are certain songs where this is more evident than others, but I fund that as a whole this wasn’t that big of a deal as there were enough moments where the pitches broke free of the instrumentals. While all of the styles fit the material, the ones where the singing opened up a bit and took on more of a powerful, storytelling feel stood out the most and helped to add quite a bit to the overall atmosphere.

Old Mornings Dawn is another incredible effort from one of the best epic black metal bands out there. Summoning has always felt more authentic and less cheesy than many of the other black and folk metal groups and they have taken things even further this time around. The instrumentation is much fuller than before and the soaring melodies and harsher riffs continue to take listeners on a fantastical journey. It may ultimately feel similar to what the group has done in the past, but there are very few groups that can match Summoning’s compositions and it is clear that they have taken the ideas showcased previously and taken the production values and depth of their arrangements to an entirely new level.

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