Summoning - Dol Guldur
Napalm Records
Ambient Black Metal
8 songs (68:50)
Release year: 1996
Summoning, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

I have no idea why but for some reason I have done a lot of things involving Austria this week. I've probably watched 4 Schwarzenegger movies, a documentary on you know who, finally reviewing Lucifer Incestus by Austrian extreme metallers Belphegor. I decided that it was in my best interest to finish the week on the Austria kick with a high note: Dol Guldur, the 1996 Ambient Black Metal album from Tolkien inspired duo Summoning.

I'm not sure how long it's been since I was accepted into the ranks of the staff on MR, but this was one of the first albums I reserved on the claim your review list. The reason why it's now that I'm reviewing this album (besides my apparent obsession for Austria) is that I have to be patient to review Dol Guldur. This album is long, clocking in at almost 69 minutes, and not reaching a pace faster than a Candlemass song at any point on this album. I'm not trying to state that Dol Guldur is boring, but what I am saying is that it's long, and slow which means that when I'm in my beer pounding headbanger mood, this will never suit me. Summoning remind me of my first time in Northern California's Muir Woods, named after the great American conservationist. It is a majestic land which is just as awesome in its beauty as it is in its sheer proportions. The forest is lined with redwood trees, the tallest and largest in North America, the wildlife is teeming and the water is pure. At 10 years old, I was more interested in my Gameboy than I was in the forest, but if there's any lesson to learn, it's that it takes a mature, cultured individual to enjoy such natural splendors. The same can be said for this great album. Maturity, patience, and the right mood are all required.

I wouldn't call myself nerdy per say, I have a nice looking girl on my arm, am athletic, and spend a lot more time in the gym and with friends than I do on the Xbox, but if there's one thing I'm crazy about, it's Lord of the Rings. Summoning share my passion for this great saga, bending their lyrics and themes around the great tales of Tolkien. For those of you familiar with the tale, The Hobbit, Dol Guldur is the lair of the Necromancer, who is later revealed to be Sauron.

Summoning are comprised of a duo, Silenius and Protector, who have been working in harmony since the inception of this band in the early to mid 90s. Dol Guldur sticks to the modus operandi of the band: lengthy Tolkienesque anthems with droning guitars, barren drums, and a wonderfully composed album full of brilliant keyboard and synth work. The first track following the shortened instrumental is Nightshade Forests. This song is very long and slow, yet the pace doesn't effect the quality of the track. The song is composed nicely, the main riff being simplistic yet effective. The drums are really about as much of a factor as they are on Transylvanian Hunger, with almost a need to exist, but no need to add any extra dimension to the song. Be wary of my Darkthrone comparison though, as I was simply comparing the purpose of the percussion, not the bands or sound at all.

Elfstone is a great song for the keyboards to shine through. The track has some lovely bridges involving beauteous keyboard lineages weaved around some horns. The song tends to move in a circular motion, yet never grows old, maintaining the patient yet cunning sound that Summoning purport. Track 4, Khazad Dum is surely my favorite song on Dol Guldur. Khazad Dum is just a few seconds short of 11 minutes, yet it goes by so quickly. It is one of those Black Metal songs I cherish most when under the influence of marijuana. It drones on a doomish pace, following a lengthy intro with a marching snare beat and a really interesting horn and synth riff. The horns sound like a trumpet or bugle of some sort (I have played live for a few Ska bands in a pinch if needed, but I hardly know much about brass instruments). What is so fascinating about this song is that the intro is revisited several times, providing a very intriguing bridge piece. The horn riff (what do you call a riff for horns anyways??? someone please answer in the forum, thanks) is playing for almost all if not all of the song, leaving a very nice background beat which not only provides a template to shape the riffs and vocals around, but also a forward treble instrument to accentuate everything around it. It's a rare entity, as it provides the background and the spotlight to this phenomenal song.

Kor follows, and while I'm not thrilled with the first few seconds, once the track establishes itself, the eerie organ layering the background provides a chilling atmosphere to the song. The drums are a bit more active than in the previous tracks, and they actually add a lot more to the song than one would think.

I might not be a mindless pot smoker, but I do love the feeling of it. I bought this album knowing very little about Summoning to hopefully add to my "Black Metal to listen to while baked" mini collection. A collection which involves bands like Sargeist, Lunar Aurora, Wolves in the Throne Room and this epic Austrian duo. Dol Guldur entertains me for the same reason the others do: Black Metal of this variety is excellent to relax, meditate, and stop time with. It's a relaxing, tranquil, hypnotizing sightseeing tour of Middle Earth and all of its natural majesty. This album is one set for the few who are patient enough to enjoy what is presented. Not for everyone, but perfect for the few who wish to be whisked away on this spellbinding journey. I plan to return this week to the vast Muir Woods with the same lessons and matured appreciation for the pastoral wonder that only art this natural could come to be.

Killing Songs :
Nightshade Forests, Elfstone, Khazad Dum, Kor,
Tony quoted 92 / 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 - Oath Bound reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Summoning - Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame reviewed by Alex and quoted 81 / 100
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