Home > Music > Summoning – Minas Morgul (1995)

Summoning – Minas Morgul (1995)

folderA long time ago (but not predating the founding of this blog),  I made a primitive music video for the third song on this album – “The Passing Of The Grey Company” – where the visuals consisted entirely of pictures of chickens run through cheap effects filters. It’s a long story, but it’s worth noting that I listened to that one song long before I heard anything else on this album. Am I going to release it? No.

I wouldn’t say chickens have much to do with Minas Morgul, anyways. In the case of Summoning, most fans will tell you that this is where they started to develop their signature sound – which relies heavily on atmospheric buildup and repetition. Clearly, Transylvanian Hunger‘s influence spread fairly wide and deep (although whether it actually did, given the relative obscurity of even the Norwegian scene in the ‘mid 90s is up for debate). On the other hand, Summoning isn’t as aggressively low-fi. The keyboards on this album are infamously cheap sounding, but the guitar tone and vocals come through quite well, and even the drum machine (since this is the first Summoning album to use one) sounds pretty decent from an aesthetic stance.

Summoning’s strength on this album, perhaps, is that despite the very simplistic music they write, they have already mastered the ‘wall of sound’ effect of a big symphonic orchestra. Since their recording budget was probably rather low, the secret of their success lies in arrangements. Unlike, let’s say, Haggard, the symphonic and metallic portions of this album are not lopsided in their overall complexity levels – both are fairly simplistic. There tend to be few ‘riffs’ in any given song, which like any good ambient album undergo small variations every time they return and occasionally have new content overlaid. Songs tend towards the mid-paced, although the speed picks up occasionally, and there are a few sections of aggressive blasting, like the refrain of ‘Lugburz’ and the end of ‘Marching Homewards’. The vocal rhythms also do a good job of preventing monotony – they are actually very irregular, and seemingly follow the cadence of the lyrics more than the rhythms of the backing band. This is a hard effect to explain, but the end result is that at many times, they are screamed/screeched in a way that complements the music but has no clear analogue in the arrangements.

In the end, this is quite similar in its approach to a variety of albums I’ve discussed. It’s got the minimalism of classic Darkthrone, the elongated structures and symphonic embellishments of early Enslaved and Limbonic Art, Lord of the Rings themed lyrics (which are probably worth mentioning, since they’re kind of one of the selling points of the band), and so forth. Naturally, if you like those things, you’re likely to enjoy Summoning. Later albums apparently improve the production values a bit and also have a more upbeat sound, but they still hew rather close to the formula established here.

Highlights: “The Passing Of The Grey Company”, “Morthond”, “Dagor Bragollach” , “The Legend Of The Master Ring”

Also, this is the blog’s 200th post, but who cares about such trivia? …It’s also the 3rd anniversary of when I started this blog, but it’s not good practice to place such emphasis on meaningless milestones.

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