I got this cd really long ago, back when it was new and loved it right from the beginning. I was amazed at the amount of detail and ornamentation that was in this cd. The balance of technicality (which is still rather minimal) melody, and rhythm creating amazing atmospheres for each song. All the songs are unique as well, they all have parts that one can instantly remember them by, such as the clarinet in the beginning of Ashen Cold or the strings and horns of A New Power is Rising. The thing that makes the cd even more amazing is that it was concieved orchestrated and played by two people.
If you're familiar with Summoning you know that they are very Tolkein/Lord of the Rings influenced, and if you're into that kind of music but don't know Summoning this is the perfect place to begin. It has more of the old medieval feel than Stronghold yet the Instruments are clearer than on Dol Guldur or Minas Morgul. The production is excellent. except for the guitars which are just about as distorted as they can get. The drum machine still plays that familiar beat but keeps things interesting when need be giving us Timpani and Tom parts that are a nice variety from the usual snare/bass/tambourine beat.
The cd starts with "A New Power is Rising", which is the usual hymn like intro that Summoning cds have and builts up gradually, starting with just a French Horn and gradually building up, adding more and more instruments (btw Summoning does all these istruments with Keyboard) until it reaches a very epic conclusion. Than comes "South Away", a song dominated by medieval trumpets and some good samples.The chorus is great, and never gets old, and the vocals are first heard on this song, and as usual they are great. Next come In "Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" and "Our Foes Shall Fall" which I think of a litlle as one song because they give me the same kind of vibe. The verse of In Hollow Halls... and intro of Our Foes Shall Fall are particularily good. "The Mountain Kings Return", one of the longest songs on the cd has a pretty guitar dominated intro (for this cds standards) and a great bridge. All the playing stops and then a solo instrument plays followed by a Sample of "So We Come to it in the End" and a fill into the chorus. Genius song structure for this song. "Runes of Power" is next and the strings and horns remind of the first song. The chorus has no singing except for a sound sample which fits perfectly. Then comes"Ashen Cold". Great intro. Great chorus. Great Bridge. Great Verse. Great Song. The last song is "Farewell" in which Summoning incorperate clean singing for the first time in the chorus and the result is great. Wonderful trumpet lines as well in this song. Very good closer.
Good production, vocals, good use of samples, general good feeling and every song has it's own unique style.
Cons: None really, some may find the cd a bit repetitive (not the songs but riffs are usually repeated a lot) but I can find almost nothing wrong here.