MINING MIDDLE EARTH
Myk Interviews Summoning
Summoning is a band that’s had little influence on the U.S. metal scene. Despite the fact that the Austrian duo’s new album, Oath Bound, is their eighth release, few others have been available here. With Oath Bound,, not only is the band focused on broadening their fanbase, but Napalm Records has made Summoning’s entire back catalog available for the first time in the U.S. Here’s the first chance to encounter a true Tolkien band, not just a band with a name ripped from Lord of the Rings–these guys live the series, and it’s only recently that they’ve addressed any other types of literature in their music. If you’re a fan of epic, orchestral, fantasy metal in the vein of In The Woods or In Extremo, then Summoning is for you. Protector [vocals, guitar, keyboards] and Silenius [vocals, bass, keyboards], took the time to answer my questions.
Horror Garage: Tell me about the abundance of Lord of the Rings’ references in your music...
Silenius: After we kicked out our drummer, Trifixion, we worked on the new material for Minas Morgul . We wanted to do something completely different from Trifixion’s hectic drumming style, and we wanted to change our black metal image because at that time I was also involved in the band Abigor and so we wanted to get away from the occult image because it would not have made any sense to have the complete same style as this band. But, the most important reason was my deep fascination with fantasy literature, especially the realms of Tolkien’s world. And, as our music became far more epic, hymnal and in a slow motion style, it was perfect to combine this style with the lyrics of Tolkien’s Middle Earth creation. Until now we never changed this style again, and this time we again drown deep into Tolkien’s concept of the Silmarillion.
HG: Do you think that with the release of the films, that people now perceive you as a trend jumper, even though you have been doing these references for years?
Protector: I can not imagine that people still say that. I know some people said that after Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame , because that release appeared only one or two months after the film opening. [Then] people even commented that we waited to release the CD in order to jump even more on the trend. But, with Oath Bound all those strange opinions some people seem to have about our personalities are total proved to be wrong I think, because our five year pause definitely does not fit to this "trend hunger."
Anyway, I think such comments where already stupid before, because if we where so keen on success we could to a lot more to get much more success. We could use a real orchestra for example, and all those keyboard-haters will suddenly love us. We could use a real drummer and play live, and could increase our fan number two or three times. But, we never did anything like this because we always did what we personally like, not what we think others like.
HG: What led to the long breaks between releases?
Protector: The main reason was the work for my other music project, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas. I already finished the songs of the forthcoming album two years ago but had problems with the female singer. First, the old one did was simply not good enough anymore, so I searched for another one. She was good, but due to some huge psychological problems she did not record for eighteen months so I could not release the new album. During all this time I could not release Summoning because it was much more reasonable for me first to release Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, and after that Summoning. But, finally I gave up waiting for the singer, and changed my decision and started to finish Summoning. Meanwhile, I found a new singer, and she recorded all songs only in two days.
Silenius: The realization of this CD was the most difficult one in our history because of many different reasons. [It’s been nearly] five years since Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame ; normally, in this time a band is out of sight within the scene, but of course I hope we can continue our path. The main reasons of this long delay can be found in personal subject: First, I had a very stressful girlfriend for five years who never supported me in my musical work and nearly made sabotage whenever it comes to music. Second, I did not have any good ideas for this band over a long time until I finally got new inspirations. Third, my father died of cancer last year, which caused a lot of personal troubles. Next, I lost my job and I had to find a new one. Beside all these dramas we had some big equipment problems.
HG: What led to the demise of Abigor?
Silenius: There are two reasons. First of all, the musical direction of the band more and more went into a more progressive and less melodic--let’s say "death metal"--style, and that was not the type of music I like to listen to, so I left the band during the Channeling sessions, which in my opinion was one of the weakest releases of the band. And second, I watched the before highly-admired T.T.--because of his musical abilities--becoming a serious drug addict, and somehow I felt the band would have come to an end soon.
HG: How is Summoning tied to Pazuzu?
Protector: Ray [Wells] from Pazuzu was doing the deep vocals on the Summoning demos. Silenius and me also made all songs for the first Pazuzu, as well as some songs for the second one.
HG: What can you tell me about the project Kreuzweg Ost, with Martin [Schirenc] from Pungent Stench?
Silenius: Martin left the band a short time after the release of our debut album because in that time he was reforming Pungent Stench and was very busy with his other band project, Hollenthon. After some years I found two new members and worked on new material. The result is the CD Edelrost, which was released on the English label Cold Spring Records in the end of last year. In contrast to the first release, the musical style changed a lot, from chaotic and noisy soundscapes to more martial industrial music with some neo classical influences.
HG: Your earliest recordings were more of a traditional black/death metal sound, while your newer stuff is more like In the Woods or Thyrfing. What’s behind that change in philosophy?
Protector: On the first albums, we did not have our own style or even tried to make quality music. everything was very spontaneous and we just tried to copy the black metal music that was totally fresh those times. The main change was caused by the kick out of our drummer. After that, we started to use slow and epic keyboard drums, and also the orchestral sounds for the tunes. After this event we could make the music we really liked. No more hectic metal double bass and blast beat attacks--just slow, epic music was possible. No more need to prove anyone’s musical abilities... only the music counted from this moment on.
Silenius: In my opinion, our music has not changed that much since Minas Morgul, as people say. The only big difference is that in the beginning we just focused our melody lines and concepts to the dark side of Middle Earth, but meanwhile we also included a lot of hymnal and going to battle themes connected to the elven and other races of this world. But nevertheless this special kind of medieval sounding soundtrack character has not faded at all; quite the contrary.