Oath Bound

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Over the course of several albums, Austrian black metal act Summoning perfected a particularly widescreen version of progressive black metal, a style that more recently has been infused with an almost medieval strain of twiddly folk music of the lutes 'n' flutes variety. Oath Bound dials back slightly on the Ren Faire aspects, but fans expecting a complete return to the pulverizing sound of Lugburz or Dol Guldor may be confused yet further by this album. The goth metal elements always present in the background of their sound are to the fore in these eight lengthy pieces, which are primarily instrumental and dominated by thick arrangements of electronic keyboards playing heavy, blocky chordal drones over the thudding rhythm section and under the folkish melody lines. Singer Silenius is barely present even on those songs that feature vocals, his hoarse croak of a voice often mixed so far back in the stereo image that it sounds piped-in from another room. The combination of Dead Can Dance-style ambient goth, progressive/symphonic metal and folky tunes makes Oath Bound sound like what the Orcs used to play to psych themselves up before the battles in the Lord of the Rings movies.

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