It's no surprise to many of you that among many other magazines, I also subscribe to Decibel. More times than not I have debacles with the other writers regarding their scores, especially if it's unwarranted. However, Chris Dick's review for the recent Summoning release, "Old Morning's Dawn" had me so pissed that I was about scream.
First of all, his biggest complaint on the release was that it didn't utilize the current technology. This guy literally wanted a modern sounding Summoning record, for some unknown fucking reason. Chris, did you even bother to listen to the band's previous albums? "Oath Bound" came out in 2006 and cemented the fact that the band was trying to go back into their previous nature after the much clearer "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame" release of 2001. From there, you knew what to expect. The music itself is supposed to sound archaic, it's supposed to recall the atmosphere of Middle Earth and that cannot be done with the kind of clarity that you were expecting. Do you even remember who you're reviewing? Has it been that long? Before I did my review for the disc, I listened to every album that they had made prior to it's release. This helped me to learn how the band evolved and how this album fits in with the others.
Remember that Ice Ages also reflects the work here, hence what you described as laughable "Dead Can Dance" moments. Yes, Summoning uses synths and electronics, but we don't curse Author And Punisher or Aborym exc. when they use low quality effects to create an atmosphere. Did you expect to bang your head, Chris? Is that what you wanted from the new Summoning disc? I sure didn't have any head banging moments, as there are eighteen million other bands out there who fulfill the need to increase my risk of military neck. Summoning is all about atmosphere and if you didn't understand that, then you just don't get it. You said in your review that people who are new to the band won't find much here. But what they need to understand is that Summoning is a band that requires the listening of all of their material, not just "the latest album" mainstays that most of us expect from a new band to pop into the scene (or pop back into the scene, in this case). If the young kids out there have too much ADD to turn everything off and focus on the music of Summoning, then they're simply not worthy of it. As a matter of fact, I carried on a few games of Torchlight 2 while listening to the complete discography and was able to pay attention, admittedly roughly enjoying the albums as I played the game. Surely these kids can play their Call Of Battlefield games while listening to music like... oh.
That's it. This generation is different. They might not even understand Summoning, let alone it's atmosphere. It's all got to be quick, fast and in a hurry for them and their Candy Crush Saga/Angry Birds/Call Of Booty crap. This must certainly be the reason why the music of Summoning won't appeal to the current generation of listeners. But that's beside the fact. You've also mentioned that the thin guitar on it will only appeal to the smallest kvlt listeners of black metal. But that is not true. You're simply placing your own bias on something due to what observations you've made while working in the scene. I listen to what is considered kvlt and what those kvlt people would hate and to be honest; I really can't consider the work of Summoning to be very kvlt. It's joyous, something that you don't expect with black metal, which would undoubtedly make many kvlt listeners cringe. I'm actually quite sure that a good chunk of these true kvlt listeners don't even listen to black metal that was made after the year 2000, if they'll go that far forward and would consider "Lugburz" their only good album, citing keyboards to be the downfall of the act.
For a man who is charged with reviewing releases for a major (and ridiculously expensive - 30 USD a year subscription) magazine and who actually gets paid for it, (something I'd love, as my labor job is physically killing me) I'm quite appalled that you would spit out such a haphazard review and throw in the bias of kvlt, without even examining who kvlt fans are and what makes music kvlt.
Once again Chris, Summoning is NOT a kvlt band. There was a time when they might have been considered such, but that time is not now. The band wanted to remain with the old school approach because they simply enjoy that style and it reflects the music better. There's nothing quite like the sound of gritty atmospheres and considering the material, it feels very organic; like it could have been written in the land of Middle Earth itself.
Because of you, Chris; people are not going to be interested in checking out the Summoning album. Instead of giving it at least a six, you've given the release an uncalled for 4/10. This is absolutely unfair to the band and their music and will automatically turn off loyal Decibel readers to what is in reality, a fantastic piece of music. It's one of the best metal-influenced atmospheric albums that I've heard in years and there's nothing out there on the market quite like it. You are entitled to your opinion, but because Summoning is a lesser known band; you've given them the boot in a magazine that has given pop metal acts much higher scores. There should be no instance where a band with less skill and talent gets a higher grade score than a band who has been doing it for years. Killswitch Engage is a strong metalcore act, and you've given their newest release a 7. I agree with that rating of 7, but would not even consider Summoning even close to that category. If they had made a bad album, I could see it. But a 4? You mean to tell me that you'd rather listen to Killswitch Engage than Summoning?
Reinvention? Why? Simply tell me why you want to hear this band reinvent a classic sound. Would you also knock on Tony Iommi's door and insist that "You really need to start adding more core and technical riffs into the next Black Sabbath album?" Would you go to Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson's flat and insist that on future albums, they include growl and scream vocal styles because that sells? "Hey Entombed, why don't you guys get back together and start adding crust into your music?" What about "Hey Gorguts, I know you're coming out with a new record, but I'll just hate it if it sounds like everything else you've done - and add a female vocalist. Because metal needs more tits."
Perhaps these are over-exaggerations, but in reality, this is what your review sounds like to me. "I wanted them to reinvent the wheel... It won't appeal to new listeners..." But that's because new listeners are too busy chugging down energy drinks while they blast Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides with their goddamned horns up in the air and their infantile mouths screaming "headshot! I owned you, noob!"
Of course it won't appeal to that crowd. They never heard the old shit. And that's one reason I think this record probably shouldn't have been made. It cost these guys quite a bit of money in the first place and when people realize that there just isn't room for Summoning anymore, (we're living in a world where the frontman of Arsis casts out the entire recent Tribulation album in favor of Dissection's "The Somberlain" even though his own record bit the dust heavily) the band will just hang it up completely. Old Morning's Dawn was a godsend this year, proof that the old greats still have it; and this guy basically puts all that time and effort into the fucking shredder. My hope for humanity has waned since I've read your review, Chris. I don't know if you'll ever read this or not, but you are definitely contributing to the death of the metal genre. You're helping to hold the coffin nails, while the modern trends hammer them in. The genre is bound to eat itself alive, while classics like this will go forever unheard and unnoticed.
But that's why I do what I do, as I help to give these bands just a little bit of recognition. The truth is that people should care about bands like Summoning. They've got the same sort of class that bands like Opeth and Emperor used to have and exist in a league of their own. While Opeth has jumped off the plank and into the ocean and Emperor has just walked off the fucking ship altogether, Summoning are still here and they're still creating worthwhile music. This "reinvention" that you expected would've killed the band, because there's no need to fix what's not broken. You seem to be the kind of guy who would've championed the black album or St. Anger. Those were reinventions. But like so many others in the metal community, I don't consider them that fucking revolutionary.
On the other hand, I want to personally thank you for your article on the history of Metal Maniacs. One of the greatest heavy metal magazines ever known to mankind, I enjoyed every issue that I could snag and they were ALWAYS worth the price. Decibel fills the void, but there's only so much you guys can fill that Metal Maniacs was able to deliver. Those guys went above and beyond to pump out GIANT issues (which I still have a few of) and I loved their black and white pages where underground bands would be interviewed in an completely uncut fashion. Not even Metal Hammer's subsection comes close. I'll also never forget the section of the magazine where you could ask an unknown band for physical demo albums. I've still got two demos that I sent for in that magazine. Thanks so much for getting that out there, because this new crowd needs to know that there was at one time, a real trump card in the metal world and it was Metal Maniacs.
After looking at some of your other reviews Chris, I see that you have given some great albums their due. Dark Tranquillity received a 9, as did Tribulation, which is much higher than the 80-85% the metal community was giving it. I agree with these and what you've said about the recent My Dying Bride EP, so I guess you were just having a bad day that week and took it out on these Austrians.
- The Fallen Alchemist (Eric May)