SUMMONING have become known to a wider audience as a duo that creates epic interpretations of Tolkien’s Middle-earth with the most keyboard-laden arrangements in the Metal world. The very core of the music still retains a trace of Black Metal atmosphere. When listening to “Lugburz”, the later developments of SUMMONING’s sound become logical. Here, the two elements, symphony and Black Metal, are reversed in quantity – a wild Black Metal assault is backed up by keyboards and, lo and behold, audible and interesting riffing! During these early days, SUMMONING used a real drummer, and that is evident on “Lugburz”. There is a very different sound to the rhythm department, as there are blastbeats and the human factor gives the drumming an organic sound.
As I am a fan of SUMMONING’s later work, I still prefer their other albums over this one, but if a Black Metal band would release an album like this today, they would easily outdo all their modern genre-brethren, in my opinion. “Lugburz” is a great display of all that Black Metal can be at its best. There shrieks and growls that tear and gnaw the listener. The later growls are better performed, but there is an impressive amount of emotion expressed in these vocals. There is also energetic drumming that grants the album a manic gallop forward and there is cold guitar-work that weaves hypnotic melodies. The hymnal majesty that SUMMONING have later acquired through programmed tribal drums and keyboard arrangements can hardly even be glimpsed yet, which might make this album hard to appreciate for the average SUMMONING fan. But fans of great Black Metal should really own this record. SUMMONING fans who are interested on the path the duo has trodden to find their present sound are also advised to buy this one.
Cold guitars, blasting drums and only the occasional keyboard part are the elements that are offered here. It is, however, evident how much skill Silenius and Protector already had concerning keyboard parts. On both “Flight Of The Nazgul” and “Dragons Of Time”, the keyboards give the songs a certain extra quality. The best song on the album is “Where Winters Forever Cry” because it shows guitar riffing that the later SUMMONING are nowhere near. It almost touches on a Pagan Metal sound. Some of the intensity and riffing on here combined with their trademark sound might possibly create an even stronger future sound, if they look a bit to their roots.
There are interesting parts on almost every song and well used tempo changes, but as is the case with most Black Metal I feel that there is little to grip the listener’s attention. Instead, it demands focused listening. Without it, the quality of the music cannot be fully appreciated and that is of course partly a weakness. But for those who listen closely, there is much to be found.
The magnitude of the later records is not an appropriate comparison for this record. SUMMONING mastered Black Metal on this first attempt and then moved on to even greater things, almost forming their own subgenre.
(Online September 10, 2010)