Never has there been a more perfect synth driven raw black metal epic album than Summoning’s Minas Morgul, an album that spans across all of Mordor, you can just feel the heroic lore of The Lord of the Rings pouring from the souls of Protector and Silenius as they put this album together. Released on October 16th, 1995….the world was clearly not ready for this brand of epic atmospheric black metal and Minas Morgul took the underground by storm. I’ve written about many epic atmospheric black metal albums before in the past, even recently as I discussed the Caladan Brood debut release for Blog Aus Nord, but all bands within the last 22 years has Minas Morgul to thank for pioneering such a sound and mix of genres. Medieval black metal with fantasy driven atmospheres brings out the nerd in all black metal enthusiasts and we love it.
“Soul Wandering” sets the stage for the album, bringing forth somber synth to introduce the listener to the album. Minas Morgul then dives deep into the song “Lugburz”, where the real magick begins: guitars are loud and fast, drums are incredibly bombastic, vocals are raspy and howled aggressively, production is low (compared to today’s standards) but it really wraps you within Summoning’s sound and experience. I really enjoy the guitars constantly repeating their tremolo riffing while the vocals and drums set the pace of the songs. “The Passing of the Grey Company” is literally the most catchy thing I have ever heard and it sounds like Dragon Warrior on NES when you boot the game up. This epic introduction will get stuck in your head no doubt about it. The drums enter the fray, keeping a steady beat and guitars tear in with remorseless carnage. This is one of the BEST epic/atmospheric black metal songs ever written.
I could gush and go on about each song and write a full paragraph about each song if I wanted to but I will spare you. If you have not heard this album yet then do yourself a favor and shut everything off in your room, slap on a pair of good headphones and play this album. Minas Morgul is important to the genre. The album is mysterious, adventurous and rather catchy for being a black metal album. The guitars and drums work well with the synth, everything harmonizes and the album flows so well. There are melodic moments combined with obscene amounts of atmosphere that is layered and layered with rich black metal goodness. A truly great experience in metal, something to get lost in easily. Summoning are well known within epic atmospheric black metal for a reason and that reason starts with Minas Morgul.
The album is definitely enjoyable but it’s not flawless. Listeners may notice that Summoning’s writing style can lean on the side of repetitive with their longer songs. They love to repeat riffs and will use the same pattern throughout an entire song if they can manage to get away with it. Minas Morgul is definitely unorthodox too and experimental. Songs like “Dagor Bragollach” and “The Legend of the Master-Ring” features sections of songwriting that doesn’t appear to match up at times with guitars and cinematic synthesizer workings. However, I think it adds to the overall charm of the album and the band. Summoning definitely went outside the box with this release and honestly they had to. A lot of bands were inspired by Tolkien writings around this era and musically no one sounded like Summoning. Minas Morgul pushed boundaries and broke down barriers. Pioneering a sound that many will try to imitate but few can master.