The Austrian black metal duo Summoning return with a new album With Doom We Come, their eighth full-length and first in almost five year. Silenius (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Protector (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum programming) give us the lowdown on the new record and other topics.
Chad Bowar: What led to the nearly five year span between albums?
Protector: This long pause was definitely not planned. Only a few months after the last release I worked on the remaining song fragments and was quite happy with the result. i already started to mix the new songs as I thought they should sound in order to present it to Silenius. That’s the regular way of creating songs. Normally I mix the songs as I like them and then call Silenius to give some feedback and change some details according to his opinion. But this time it was different. He did not criticize details, he criticized the complete songs totally. It was not about changing details, but about remixing and restructuring most songs totally.
What followed next was a long time of total stagnation and frustration. Silenius gave me orders on how the songs should sound, while I had not the slightest idea what problems he had this the sound. This terrible, boring period lasted more than two years, until i finally told him that I am no longer in the mood to be in a band where all spontaneous atmosphere has gone and making music is rather like going to a job. This led to some discussions and to the conclusion that we simply have to bring the album to an end, without turning around every small detail a thousand times, over and over again. Finally that crisis was over and we could agree with everything, but anyway those boring two years were a lost time for Summnoning, in my opinion.
What was your mindset going into the recording of With Doom We Come?
Silenius: With Doom We Come shall be seen as a little brother to Old Mornings Dawn. All the new songs were built up from the ashes of the Old Mornings Dawn session. After this album was released we had a lot of riffs, fragments or even unfinished song parts left. This was the initial plan to rearrange, to compose over it, to rework the old riffs and simply to be inspired to make something new out of it. The result is With Doom We Come and we tried at least to keep the sound similar to the last album, but nevertheless the whole album has its own soul and there are slight differences to Old Mornings Dawn. For example, the clean/rough singing of Protector is more prominent and sometimes more melodic than it was on albums on the past, and second we reactivated our love for instrumental songs, which we did in the beginning of Summoning on releases like Minas Morgul or Dol Duldur.
Protector: This time it was different than normal, because this time we had some song fragments left from the session of Old Mornings Dawn, and just needed to complete them and add melodies to them. We did that, the song fragments changed a lot and grew so that finally in the end most songs sounded totally different than they sounded at the beginning.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for this one?
Silenius: As this album was defined as a kind of follow up to OMD, there was no big intention for us to put new aspects into the Summoning sound, but seen from the fan reaction, it seems that the vocals from Protector have been irritating some fans for the first time. That’s interesting, because this type of vocals has been done since Stronghold, but maybe this time it has a more prominent effect. Soundwise it’s quite the same to OMD, maybe the overall atmosphere is less epic but more melancholic.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Silenius: I think the strongest memory was that this time the struggles within the band have become so strong that the band nearly broke, but in the end from each defeat there was always was the chance for a new beginning. And in the end we succeeded, luckily. But on the other side, everything was as always compared with the last time. The 5 years in between has not been the longest break for Summoning. We are never in a hurry, everything forms slowly.
Are there any disadvantages in self-producing an album?
Protector: No, for sure not, at least not for a band like Summoning, who want to have everything under control and who has a clear vision in their heads how the music should sound. I guess its a disadvantage for some bands that want to enter the mainstream, because what external studios can do better is to adapt the sound to the current zeitgeist. But that’s exactly what we don’t want. We don’t like the sound that’s considered as “professional.” It’s too dry and too sterile.
i still remember very clearly that first time I started to mix the Summoning songs on my own on Stronghold. It was such a relief to be able to have every knob under control and no need to convince any external sound engineer to put more reverb on an instrument, etc. It is so much more relaxing to know that we have all the time we want for the songs and can mix whenever we want. This was a huge progress for me, and I never regretted the old days in the external studio at all.
How has your sound progressed/evolved from Old Mornings Dawn?
Protector: This time we never planned or thought that we would make a huge different sound compared to the album before. I did not change the settings for the guitars or drums this time, I just took it over from Old Mornings Dawn. But to my big surprise this time we got more comments that the sound has changed than on albums before, especially my melodic black metal vocal style surprised lots of people, although I started to sing like that already on Stronghold. I have really no idea if the sound changed by accident, but I think fans now perceive it different.
What inspired the album title?
Silenius: It was a title which i loved most in the end. As always I collect words and phrases when I am searching for lyrics for the album. In the end I had a piece of paper with about 50e supposed titles, not only as album titles, but also for song titles. For a long time i preferred just short one word titles like Conquest. It was a little bit like Stronghold, but I was not too happy with it. It always reminded a lot of Vangelis and the movie Conquest of Paradise, but a few weeks before finishing the lyrical progress i came over an old poem of Tolkien about the marching Ents against Isengard. In this song the phrase “with doom we come” was said and I fell in love with this phrase and so we used it not only as an album title, but also as a song title, but of course with a different meaning.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Silenius: We don’t have special goals or expectations, we just want to do what we have done since the birth of Summoning: to make musical translations of poems and writings of Tolkien and to paint musical pictures of Middle Earth. This is the essence of what Summoning is all about. And the easier the listener can step into the mindworld by listening to our songs, the more satisfied we are of having succeeded as composers.
What was your reaction to last year’s Summoning tribute album?
Silenius: It was a great release, most of the bands really have done a great job and also the layout looks very artistic and fitting to our style and luckily not this modern fantasy kitsch, which also could happen easily. I think some of the bands have their own fan base and have the potential to step in the forefront and this is a big step forward if you compare this with the older tribute sampler which was a pure underground release.
What’s the status of the next Amestigon album?
Silenius: What i did some weeks ago where new vocals for a new song that will be released on a 10 inch split vinyl with another black metal band. I also did the vocals for the new Abigor album that will be released in January.
Are there plans for another Kreuzweg Ost album?
Silenius: It would be great to make another Kreuzweg Ost CD, at least one more, but at the moment I simply have no time for it and unfortunately i have no contact with the other two band members. The last information of Oliver i have is that he emigrated to England, but I am still not sure if he is still there or not.
Are you working on any other projects?
Protector: Right now I am working on my slow, electronic, melodic industrial project Ice Ages. Some weeks ago I started to restore some older songs and fragments, and created already three new songs, which I like very much so far. The three new songs are slower, a bit more dirty/heavy and more melodic than the songs before, but I have no idea yet how the complete album will sound.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Silenius: To be honest, I have not been listening to metal music lately. Right now I am listening to the sampler Dead and Gone. It is done by an Austrian guy who collected funeral songs from all over the world.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Silenius: Thanks for the interview and up the hammers to all our fans in the USA.
(interview published January 4, 2018)