Summoning is without question one of the most iconic atmospheric black metal bands in the world. They have taken the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and crafted some of the most brilliant sounding songs that allow listeners to visits Middle-Earth on each release. So, I decided to rank their seven full-length albums in order from my favorite to my least favorite. Here they are...
1. Oath Bound - The song, “Land of the Dead,” alone is pretty much why this is my favorite Summoning album. That track has some amazing guitar parts and the production is flawless. Also, the main choir part injects such powerful emotion into the song. Also, I always felt like the band took atmospheric black metal into an even more triumphant and captivating direction. The album’s distant sounding guitar riffs and long epic synth arrangements serve as the perfect score to accompany the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Plus the lyrics for, “Mirdautas Vras,” are written in the Black Speech of Mordor...now how many bands can do that!
2. Minas Morgul - The Witch-king of Angmar would approve on this Summoning release. A lot of fans consider this to be the band’s best album and it is the album that establishes Summoning as a major influence in the world of atmospheric black metal. “Minas Morgul,” is such a great release and contains tremendous songs like, “Marching Homewards,” Through the Forest of Dol Guldur,” “The Passing of the Grey Company,” and “Morthond.” The instrumental compositions are flawless while the vocals provide such haunting and sinister narration.
3. Lugburz - For their first album Summoning went for a more harsh and traditional style of black metal. I definitely hear influences like Burzum and Darkthrone, especially in the album’s production. There are moments where one might notice Summoning incorporating classical and atmospheric elements that become part of the band’s signature sound on future releases. I still think even though it does not fit the signature Summoning sound, the album is really well written for the style of black metal they were going for at the time.
4. Stronghold - Here is where Summoning started to add more melodic vocals and grand choruses that continue to be heard on the following Summoning releases. Once again, the long epic pieces are well written and tell magnificent stories that bring the works of Tolkien alive in the imaginations of listeners. Another area that makes this a solid release is the guitar riffs. “Long Lost to Where no Pathway Goes,” has a soothing melodic structure that opens the mind to a world of atmospheric splendor.
5. Dol Guldur - Sort of a continuation from what was being done on “Minas Morgul,” but I think the album has its own unique identity. I really enjoy the song, “Nightshade Forests,” which is my favorite track off the album. I have always felt like I needed to listen to it more, because this was at one time my least favorite Summoning release. However, since I have been going back to it more I have noticed it moving up and starting to grow on me. I think the balance of harsh sounding black metal elements and melodic structures is really what draws me to the album.
6. Old Mornings Dawn - Their most recent release to date that came out in 2013, “Old Mornings Dawn,” was a welcoming release after the band had not released a full-length album since 2006’s “Oath Bound.” They continued to write long epic songs like the album’s magnificent title track. Once again the band creates magnificent cinematic atmospheric black metal music full of fantastic sounding landscapes. As much as I enjoyed the album, I was hoping for the vocals to return to the raw sound on Minas Morgul. Still, those grand choruses are quite enjoyable and add a triumphant touch when needed.
7. Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame - Just because this is my least favorite Summoning album, does not mean it is a worthless release. Quite the opposite! I enjoy “Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame,” but think the other albums just standout a bit more. “Farewell,” is a really good song which I think contains a great choir section with some epic lyrics. I consider it to be the rough draft for what they were going to do on, “Oath Bound.”Still, I think this is a solid release and one that people should not dismiss.
Well, there is my ranking of the seven full-length Summoning albums. I decided to leave demos and EPs off because that would be an even longer article. If you want to provide your ranking of Summoning’s full-length releases, please do so in the comments section below.
"Upon the plain, there rushed forth and high
Shadows at dead end of night and mirrored in the sky
Far far away beyond might of day
And there lay the land of the dead of mortal cold decay"
-Summoning "Land of the Dead"