Little known Austrian Black Metal band Summoning give the term Tolkien Metal a new meaning. Since their formation in 1993 the band has gone from release to release preaching the world of Middle-Earth, and telling tales of Orcs, Elves and everything in between. 1997's release Nightshade Forests
are songs leftover, from the previous album Dol Guldur
. These mere "leftovers" show that the band maybe even at their" worst", that they have more talent then many other bands on the scene.
The album starts off with the song Mirkwood
a piece detailing the mythical forest that exists in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
series. It starts out with epic and atmospheric keyboards and tribal-like drum beat. The guitar is buried in the background and is of typical black metal fare, being tremolo picked. An interesting note is that the drums on this album rarely take a conventional beat, and more often then not, take a tribal quality. This really adds to the epic atmosphere and even sounds like something you would hear if you did in fact travel to places such as Middle-Earth. Also atypical of most Black Metal is the use of the keyboards. On the song Kortirion Among The Trees
(and most others to be completely accurate[/i] the keyboards take a totally dominate role in the music. Unlike most other Symphonic Black Metal bands, the synths are the main attraction and the guitar is rarely heard. The only song where the guitar takes the main role is Flesh and Blood
where the the mid-paced guitar still even takes more of background, atmospheric role, rather then a lead instrument. Habbanan Beneath The Stars
the final song makes great use of the flute and a horn section something also unheard of in Black Metal.
Overall, while the general structure of the album is identical song to song, the synth work keeps everything fresh and interesting. While the synth-work for Kortirion Among The Trees
is amazingly up-lifting and carries no depressive mood whatsoever, the song Mirkwood
although also uplifting in ways, carries a much more melancholic mood with it. They even seem to gain influence from different cultures like the Scottish and some Norwegian style folk. The drums also help keep it innovative. The beat is never the same within any and are always much different from something you would expect within Black Metal. The only song with double bass pedal and slght ( i say slight because they are a lot slower then usual} blastbeats is opener Mirkwood
. Its very refreshing, for the variety different patterns and always keeps you guessing what they play next. On the other hand the guitar work is completely song thing you expect of the genre. In every song, the guitar is tremolo picked and simple powerchords. There's not much variation, but Summoning were never known for their guitar work anyway. The vocal work is amazingly well done, Protector voice has all harsh quality of Black Metal, but enough originality to distinguish himself from others. His greatest vocal performance is without a doubt [i]Flesh And Blood[/b] where he uses many different vocal effects as well as switching from more black metal to death metal type vocals.
Even though it's slightly monotonous at times, Nightshade Forests
is a great addition to any Black Metallers catalog. They are unabashedly symphonic, yet still have that raw and heaviness that everyone can enjoy. Sure, they sing about a fantastical world or dungeons and dragons, wizards and witches, but the emotions that the music brings out are nothing less then real.