I've loved Summoning since the first moment I clapped ears upon their 1995 classic Minas Morgul back in junior year of high school. I didn't know that it was such a celebrated album then, or that Summoning themselves had formed roughly around the same time as my fifth birthday, or even much about black metal of the non-Scandinavian or Gallic persuasions at all. I just knew that I was hooked, and that even in the throes of my darkest "everything but Vlad Tepes and goregrind blows dogs for quarters" phase, something about their bombastic, unabashedly epic compositions struck a triumphant chord within my scrawny chest.

Since that fateful afternoon, I've eagerly devoured everything this Tolkein-obsessed Austrian duo has seen fit to offer, from 1993's fantastically named Upon the Viking Stallion demo to their most recent full-length, Oath Bound, and the 2007 boxed set that marked their last sign of life. As the years passed and my Lugburz CD grew dusty, it seemed as though they'd hung up their saddles, sheathed their swords, and thrown in the towel. The world felt a little less magical until a few months ago, when it was announced that, not only were Summoning still active, they had shouldered their glorious burden once again and new material lie ahead.

Their comeback (of sorts) album, 'Old Mornings Dawn' is everything one might hope for it to be, and then some. All the crucial hallmarks are there, from the gleefully over-the-top keyboards, echoing programmed drums, and wild, fanciful latter-day Bathory melodies to the raspy croaks and robust Viking choirs singing to halls up high. The songs are catchy and rousing, all sword-rattling bravado and grandiose keys, and the songwriting harkens back to their earliest, strongest recordings. The Austrian Black Metal Syndicate have returned!

Get in touch with your inner Gandalf with the titular third track, "Old Mornings Dawn," streaming below.

— Kim Kelly


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