How do you feel now that the next album is finished and ready to be launched at the world early January?
Silenius: Of course we are relieved and relaxed now. To finish this album maybe was the most difficult in the history of Summoning because there were a lot of struggles between me and Protector in terms of how the new record shall sound: All in all the new album shall be seen as a kind of little brother of ‘Old Mornings Dawn’, because it was built up from the "ashes" of this album - that means we had a lot of unfinished songs, riffs and fragments left from this session which we all lump together and looked what we can work out of it. We rearranged, composed new melodies to it, restructured and made a new modeling and in the end the new album was finished. Basically it is not too different to the last one, neither in sound, nor in song structure, but in the end it had a very own soul and of course slight differences: For example the more melodic vocal lines, which are not new, but maybe more prominent, or for example the use of instrumental songs, which we did in the beginning very often, but then forgot a little bit ...
t is almost five years since the mighty ‘Old Mornings Dawn’ came out. What happened with you guys next and in the last four/five years?
Silenius: First of all, five years are not quite long for Summoning, last time we needed seven years to release ‘Old Mornings Dawn’, and second , this time the songs have been composed very quickly, but what kept us from releasing them was the never ending struggle about the sound.
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 think they should sounds 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 how the songs should sound, while I had not the slightest idea what problems he had with the sound. This terrible, boring period lasted more than two years, till 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 than to full fill the personal passion. This lead to some discussions and to the conclusion that we simply have to bring the album to an end, without turning around every small detail 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 Summoning in my opinion.
What always flabbergasts me is that current bands want to make it as hectic as possible, but you achieve a certain grace and demanding power by being rather slow, gracious and even aristocratic in a way. Any thoughts on that?
Silenius: If you mean the breaks between the albums Protector has the answer below, but if you mean that our songs are just slow, then yes you are right, that is simply because we want to take our time to build up our melodies, then put another melody over it and so on. We like long melodies and of course we want to build up a mood and an atmosphere within the song and of course we want to bring a kind of epic, or bombastic, hymn-like or whatever feeling within our songs. That is of course a must if you want to make musical translations of the middle earth concept. and I am sure that this slow up-building of song structures is very similar to the slow up-building of stories Tolkien did in his books. Summoning’s music is not meant to be fast food or feel good music for the metal dance floor, it is more a musical companion when you are alone on a trip over a mountain or something like that.
Protector:: It is not a plan of us to make long pauses between the releases, it simply happens because we both have full time jobs and can only spend parts of our spare time for music, so naturally we are not able to create an album each year. For example at the beginning when I was still studying and had more time, we were much faster. For example our second album ‘Minas Morgul’ and the third one ‘Dol Guldur’ were released within the same year. Anyway, our album will be released simply when we think it’s ready. there is no need to hurry but also no need to make the pause longer than necessary. When we both agree that every tiny detail on the album is just as we want it, then we send the master CD, but surely never before, and we are happy that the label never puts any pressure on us, because this would ruin the music of Summoning.
In some way you also remained close to your sound of the beginning. Was it done on purpose or can this just be seen as the essence of Summoning, being a duo in the studio (with all its possibilities, but also limits)?
Protector: I don’t think that our sound did not change much. If I compare the releases, I see a constant increase of details and polyphonic structures. I also see how the guitars changed (often drastically) - from palm mute riffs on stronghold and LMHSYF, to opened high tremolos riffs on ‘Oathbound’, and now much deeper guitars. I see that using reverb and chorus effects on ‘Oathbound’ extensively, while on ‘Old Mornings Dawn’ and the new release, we reduced quite a lot. In the past most rhythms consisted on bass, snare and tom toms, while now they are full of oriental percussion. When I listen to an average metal band I don’t think that they change the sound as much as we do, but that’s never on purpose, The albums sound as we think it should sound, it’s not relevant for me if the sound changes or not. The home studio is not connected to this at all, the choice of the sounds we use is enabled by the orchestral sample library that I use and any sound that exist could be used by us, because of modern technology - in contrary to the times when we were forced to record in an external studio, we have now much more freedom and time to experience lots of different instruments, while in the past we had a constant time pressure in the external studio.
Which segment of the eternal source of inspiration (Tolkien & Middle Earth) did you focus on this time? In other words, can you tell something more about the lyrics?
Silenius: The whole album is not a full concept album, but each song tells a different story from all the ages of middle earth. As ever some of the lyrics are from Tolkien himself. It was a coincidence that at the time I was collecting lyrics for the album, Christopher Tolkien released some new books from the heritage of his father. On the other side we have chosen again some lyrics from different writers like Edgar Allen Poe and some less known. About the lyrics: ‘Tar-Calion‘ is another name for Ar-Pharazon as you mentioned. He was the last king of the Numenor who, blinded by Sauron, built a great fleet and sailed against the land of the Valar. The second song ‘Silvertine’ tells from this mountain, where once Gandalf fought his final battle against the Balrog. ‘Carcharoth’ was the greatest and most powerful wolf in the service of Morgoth and he guarded the gates of Angband. He bit of the hand of Beren with the Silmaril within and became crazed with pain. The next song ‘Herumor’ tells from a less known character. He was a black Numenor who rose to power among the Haradrim and served Sauron in the end. The following instrumental refers to a serial of low hills east of the shire. During the second and third age the hills were haunted by the Barrow-wrights, sent by the Witch King of Angmar, so no man could settle there. ‘Night Fell Behind’ is about self sacrifice and heroism while ‘Mirklands’ draw the listener into a shadow land where the land of the living collides with the land of the dead. The final title song tells from a time of the first age, when Morgoth sets feet to Middle Earth and built up his empire.
Are these strictly focusing on that topic or can they be seen in a broader interpretation as well?
Silenius: Basically the lyrics are just focused on Middle Earth and shall not be seen as a kind of allegory to the modern world or whatever, but nevertheless you can of course make different interpretations, because all the lyrics which are not directly from Tolkien originally have nothing to do with Middle Earth, but I used them in a way that there is a connection, or at least the listener can think that it fits to this world.
Is Summoning a kind of gracious escapism? The music and the lyrical theme seems timeless to me…
Silenius: Yes of course, Summoning is escapism like fantasy literature is pure escapism. Basically as I said in an answer before, you can see the music of Summoning as musical paintings that shall build up inner eye pictures of the listener, of happenings, stories, persons, buildings or places, all connected to the works of Tolkien. It is very important that our songs transport this special kind of wanderlust feeling, as well as this remembrance of older times or times long lost. At least those two feelings have been very strong within me when I read the book the first time, and so I want our music to have the same feeling for the listener.
Since the last track and title song happens to be one of my favorites with mighty choirs and grandness, I would like to know a bit more about this song, how it came into being and thoughts of the creators…
Protector: It is also my favorite song of the album. For a long time it consisted only of the first part and we did not know how to turn it to a real song with two parts, but then one day I took the first melodies, changed the notes and harmonies of it, giving it a new feeling and suddenly the second part was born. Silenius liked it as well and added melodies to it. It again took me a while to find some proper vocal lines to it - since ‘Stronghold’ I always try not to just do some vocal noises, but to add melodies to my vocals, and this was not easy at the beginning. But finally I fell into the song and I found a quite catchy vocal line - at least for my taste
By the way, why did you choose exactly this title: ‘With Doom We Come’?
Silenius: Well 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 50tie 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 somehow I was not too happy with it, because it always reminded me a lot on 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 somehow 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 ...
Can you go deeper into the making of the beautiful artwork?
Silenius: The frame was done by a Russian painter. Of course not exclusively for us, but I asked him and he gave us the permission. This time we did not want the usual landscape painting as a cover, but a more fantasy styled one. When I looked through a lot of paintings from the last centuries and mainly from the Romantic epoch, I found a painter who made this kind of mythological paintings of old European sagas. The dragon we used for the cover is not an over the top monster dragon, but for me it was important that it does not look new, but was painted centuries ago, and that’s not easy to find. For the booklet we again used a lot of the usual landscape paintings from the Romantic epoch, which I like very much. I like empty paintings, which can activate the fantasy of the watcher and listener to build up his own stories and sagas to those vast landscapes - they can watch while listening to our music.
Are there plans for a music video clip?
Silenius: No, we don’t want to make a video-clip. One minute teasers are enough for us. I think as Summoning songs last seven to ten minutes, it would be boring after a while to watch this landscape clips we have done within a teaser and everything else would be too expensive. But for one or one and a half minute those trailers can be very motivating and original, and so we will go on in that way. It’s always just a kind of activation of the fantasy of the listeners, but never a finished setting where the listener is too much trapped within and cannot make individual thoughts.
What is the latest news about the side projects of both of you (Abigor, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, Ice Ages and Kreuzweg Ost)?
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. Beside Summoning I am very active in Abigor again: I did the vocals of several releases from the past and I also did the vocals for the new CD which will be released nearly at the same time as the new Summoning album will be released. And last week I finished the vocals for a new Amestigon song which will be part of a split vinyl with another black metal band which name I forgot now.
Protector: I have no plans for Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and actually no mood for it, but I have news concerning 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 are your wishes and plans for the near future, so we’re talking about 2018…
Silenius: I think the next what we will do for Summoning is a small release. Maybe three or four songs just for a limited vinyl. That will be a kind of test working for a supposed new album to see if this time we can come together more easily again with the sound.
Did you finally do already something with the six unreleased tracks we talked about in 2013 when ‘Old Mornings Dawn’ was released?
Silenius: This was what we used for the new album, maybe it was not quite true, we never had six full songs, but just fragments and parts of six songs. as we answered in the first question, everything that was worth to be taken is in one or the other form part of the new album.
Is Summoning a band with a diehard and loyal fan base from earlier days only, or do you notice that new people constantly discover Summoning and the group of fans is getting larger? Did the internet do something positive for you in this respect?
Silenius: That is a very difficult question for us, because as we never play live and as we are not active on Facebook or similar platforms, we have no interaction with our fans and so we do not know too much from our fans. What I think is that we of course have a loyal fan base, but of course as any other band, we also loose fans with the years and also gain new ones, who replace those who are tired of us. Of course Napalm Records has the potential to promote us well, so I am pretty sure we also have a lot of fans who are not really metal fans at all, but like us because of the Tolkien aspect or the melodies.
Well, we are really enchanted by ‘With Doom We Come’. Congratulations! If you want to add something, please feel free to do it here…
Silenius: As always when the end of the interview has come, we give thanks to you and give a big "up the hammers" to all our fans in Belgium and The Netherlands.