Summoning – With Doom We Come (2018)

Like certain multilayered pieces from Kansas‘ best work from the 70s, With Doom We Come is an album of many voices; as with all polyphonic music, the real test lies in isolating and evaluating the effectiveness of the individual voices, and here, Summoning, as one would expect from a band of their pedigree, are above reproach. Where one line of melody roots the composition to soil, a second embellishes fantastical landscapes, and another yet kisses this painstakingly constructed edifice like the gentlest of zephyr winds. Summoning may not play conventionally dark music any more; in truth, this is music to inspire, not enrage, to reminisce, not react to; and still, it carries with it the weight of ages, insistent in its conviction that history, poetry, and mythology among themselves form an organic, interwoven continuum, a fabric that ripples from the distant occluded past to the present day.

It is tempting to suggest that Summoning, by this time, have all but escaped the ambit of black metal; to those concerned with such qualifiers, it is perhaps best to hear their work in the company of post-punk/new wave/neoclassical artists like Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, and Vangelis. Rhythm has long since evolved beyond rock and metal norms; in terms of beat division and variety in emphasis, it shares as much with percussive techniques found in music from the orient as it does with martial industrial patterns. Distorted guitars remain sublimated to an auxiliary role in the background, providing a suggestive wash of sound over which horn, flute, and key implements demonstrate their textural allegiance to more than just one mode of cultural expression.

On surface, With Doom We Come, and indeed much of everything Summoning have done since Minas Morgul, would appear deserving of that nefarious, multicultural, umbrella label of “world music”. However, multiculturalism is little more than forced integration for the purpose of political gerrymandering; Summoning‘s oeuvre on the other hand is causally logical, hence thoroughly natural and of a piece; it is not interested in assembling a menagerie of diverse sounds to impress its virtue on an impressionable audience; instead, it is a reflection of the exchange that happens between humanity over extended periods as a result of existential inevitability rather than transient materialistic expediency. Therein lies its true nobility.

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