Summoning was formed in 1993 by drinking buddies Richard Lederer, Michael Gregor and Alexander Trondl, who met in a pub in Austria. They secured a deal with Napalm Records in 1995 and released their debut Lugburz, a traditional Black Metal album that was quite different from their later projects.
Shortly after recording Lugburz, Trondl was kicked from the band for being "a commercial-thinking asshole". Lederer and Gregor continued as a duo, and instead of getting a new drummer changed to keyboard percussion to produce a more epic, atmospheric style. They combined this with low-key guitars and multi-layered synthesizer and keyboard melodies mimicking a full orchestra, while retaining the growling vocals to produce what would become the trademark Summoning sound. Most of their lyrics were inspired by the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, with some songs taking lyrics straight from poems/songs in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Some of the songs on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame are also inspired by the works of Michael Moorcock.
They released five more albums in this style: Minas Morgul; Dol Guldur; Stronghold, which put more emphasis on more complex and melodic guitar work; Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, the first album to feature clean vocal sections; and Oath Bound, characterised by relaxed, arpeggio-style guitars.
Since Oath Bound, both members have taken time out to work on other projects, with Lederer working on music for a full-length release while waiting for Gregor to finish recording the next album for his solo band Kreuzweg Ost.
They announced a comeback in 2012, and the new album Old Mornings Dawn was finally released in summer 2013. The band's eighth album will reportedly be released in 2016, but was later on changed to 2018, to much fanfare.
Their current line-up is:
- Richard "Protector" Lederer
- Michael "Silenius" Gregor
Former members and session include:
- Alexander "Trifixion" Trondl - Drums
- Ray "Pazazu" Wells - Guest vocals on Lugburz
- Tania Borsky - Guest vocals on Stronghold
- David Seys - Guest narration on Old Mornings Dawn
- Erika Szücs - Guest vocals on Old Mornings Dawn and With Doom We Come
Their discography is:
- Lugburz (1995)
- Minas Morgul (1995)
- Dol Guldur (1996)
- Stronghold (1999)
- Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame (2001)
- Oath Bound (2006)
- Old Mornings Dawn (2013)
- With Doom We Come (2018)
Summoning and their music provide examples of:
- Album Intro Track: Basically all albums have them.
- Badass Boast: "Farewell"
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Black Speech: "Mirdautas Vras"
- Concept Album: All of them.
- Echoing Acoustics: Couldn't really be much more echo-y.
- Ending Theme: "Farewell" was used for the closing credits of Damnatus.
- Epic Rocking: It's rare for a Summoning song to not be an example of this trope (they are referred to as "epic black metal", after all). The longest as of 2018 is "Land of the Dead", which runs for 12:50. Over the eight-minute mark:
- Minas Morgul: "The Passing of the Grey Company" (9:16), "Marching Homewards" (8:11) "Dor Daedeloth" (10:16)
- Dol Goldur: "Nightshade Forests" (10:49), "Elfstone" (10:51), "Khazad-dûm" (10:58), "Kôr" (11:00), "Unto a Long Glory..." (9:37), "Over Old Hills" (8:58)
- Nightshade Forests: "Mirkwood" (9:45), "Kortirion Among the Trees" (8:58)
- Stronghold: "The Rotting Horse on the Deadly Ground" (8:26), "A Distant Flame Before the Sun" (9:43)
- Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame: "In Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" (8:57), "The Mountain King's Return" (8:53), "Farewell" (9:19)
- Lost Tales: "Arcenstone" (9:17)
- Oath Bound: "Across the Streaming Tide" (10:20), "Mirdautas Vras" (8:14), "Might and Glory" (8:26), "Beleriand" (9:28), "Northward" (8:40), "Menegroth" (8:12), "Land of the Dead" (12:50) (special mention for every song except the intro being at least eight minutes long)
- Old Mornings Dawn: "Old Mornings Dawn" (9:31), "The White Tower" (9:36), "Caradhras" (9:32), "Of Pale White Morns and Darkened Eves" (8:23), "The Wandering Fire" (8:03), "Earthshine" (9:33)
- With Doom We Come: "Silvertine" (8:54), "Carcharoth" (9:20), "Mirklands" (11:01), "With Doom I Come" (11:19)
- Fanfare: "Mirdautas Vras" is a rare example of a villainous fanfare, and qualifies as Awesome Music. Listen here.
- "Bauglir" might count as a fanfare as well.
- Garfunkel: Averted, as both Lederer and Gregor provide the vocals for different songs.
- Genre-Busting: After Lugburz they went from Black Metal to...atmospheric metal? Epic metal? Ambient metal? Summoning still classify themselves as "black metal" and most people go with it just to simplify things.
- Grim Up North
- Heavy Mithril
- "I Am" Song: "Farewell"
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Most of the tracks from Lugburz qualify.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: The cover of Mortal Heroes.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Each album traditionally starts with a short instrumental piece. Some other songs are instrumentals as well.
- I Will Wait for You: Where Hope and Daylight Die
- Looped Lyrics
- Loudness War: The CDs from Stronghold onward were clipped. Vinyl editions, such as Old Mornings Dawn, often got separate masters that were free from this problem.
- Lyrical Dissonance: They always sing in growling vocals, even when the lyrics come from one of Tolkien's more upbeat compositions. This occasionally leads to The Cover Changes the Meaning (see below).
- New Sound Album:
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Northward"
- Shout-Out: Most of their lyrics are inspired by Tolkien. They've also adapted lyrics from other authors, such as William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott, and some lyrics on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame were inspired by Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion. With Doom We Come adapts poems by Edgar Alan Poe and Ralph Emerson.
- Soprano and Gravel: Their vocals are mostly the typical Metal Scream expected from Black Metal, but they use clean choirs on some albums (mostly performed entirely by Protector and Silenius) as well. A good example is the title track of Old Mornings Dawn. Additionally, one song, "Where Hope and Daylight Die", contains entirely clean singing from Protector's ex-girlfriend, Tania Borsky.
- Spoken Word in Music
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: "The Shadow Lies Frozen on the Hills". By taking the more sinister verses as lyrics and adding "Psycho" Strings, they turn a hobbit walking song into Nightmare Fuel.
- The Song Before the Storm
- Theme Naming: Their first four albums are all named after towers from Middle Earth. Also, every album cover except "Mortal Heroes" has a picture of a mountain on it.
- Those Two Guys: Given that they've been a two-man band since their second album.
- Title of the Dead: "Land of the Dead", the final song of Oath Bound.
- Villain Song: "Mirdautas Vras" is meant to be narrated by Sauron.
- Voice of the Legion: The choir segments in "Farewell", "Might and Glory" and "Land of the Dead" are actually sung by just Lederer and Gregor, with a reverberation effect.