Song of the Day: The Last Goodbye from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (by Billy Boyd)


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It’s been 13 years since the first film in what will ultimately become Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth Saga and now we’re in the stretch run. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is set to arrive in North America this December 17. The film premiered in London on December 1, 2014.

Kids who first saw The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001 are now young adults. For adults who have returned time and time again to the world Peter Jackson built for over a decade of limitless imagination and hard work of thousands this final film will be the culmination of watching what many in years past have called unfilmable.

So, it’s with both joy and sadness that the book finally closes on Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth journey and what better way than the final end credits song “The Last Goodbye” written and recorded by Peregrin Took himself, Billy Boyd.

The video itself mixes in scenes from both The Battle of the Five Armies and the previous five films. We also get some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast making their final farewells as filming closes to an end.

Damn people cutting onions.

The Last Goodbye

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow one winter’s morn
I turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell
Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took the road with me

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell.

Trailer: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Teaser)


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It hasn’t been received as well as Jackson’s own The Lord of The Rings trilogy, but The Hobbit did hit it’s stride with 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. People still haven’t bought into Jackson’s decision to film the prequel trilogy in the 48-frame rate format which gives the films an ultra-definition look that anyone with an HDTV will recognize when watching with the anti-judder effect on.

Yet, this is The Hobbit and any flaws and ill-timed decisions made still hasn’t diminished it’s hold on those who have read the book and on those who were pulled into the cinematic world adapted by Jackson. We now see the final film in the Middle-Earth cinematic universe about to come down on audiences this 2014 Holiday. This weekend at the Comic-Con saw the first teaser trailer air at Hall H to the delight of those in attendance.

Warner Brothers has seen fit to release a shorter version of the teaser shown at Hall H, but it still shows that all the set-up and slog through the first film will have an epic pay-off with the final leg of this trilogy: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Trailer: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Sneak Peek)


The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

“The lord of silver fountains,

The King of carven stone,

The King beneath the mountain

Shall come into his own!

And the bells shall ring in gladness

At the Mountain-king’s return,

But all shall fail in sadness

And the lake shall shine and burn.”

Today, over in NYC a special fan event for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was held which introduced a new one-sheet poster (look above), but also premiere a 3-minute sneak peek trailer to the second entry in The Hobbit Trilogy.

To say that this extended trailer is a vast improvement to all the previous teasers and official trailers for this second film in the prequel set would be an understatement. It still shows the film as being much more darker in tone than the book source it’s being adapted from, but it definitely shows a film that looks and feels much more put together than the first film (still just an assumption, but I have hopes I’ll be correct).

We see more of Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman who looks to fit in rather well instead of looking “too modern” as some feared he would look. I like how the trailer uses the poem, “The King Beneath the Mountains”, but in an altered form to make it sound like it was a prophecy. I know purist will probably rail and scream to anyone who will listen that this wasn’t how Tolkien wrote the poem. If they haven’t figured out by now that these film adaptations have been altering the written work to better fit the story then what have they been watching over the past decade.

I, for one, can’t wait for this middle film in the trilogy to finally come out and come out it shall on December 13, 2013. I saw the first film in every format and watch it in all format I shall for this one as well.

Ten Years #26: Summoning


Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
26. Summoning (1,154 plays)
Top track (86 plays): Menegroth, from Oath Bound (2006)
Featured track: Ashen Cold, from Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame (2001)

Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle-Earth might be the most inspired musical retelling of any of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works to date, but no band has crafted an atmospheric sound to capture that world quite so convincingly as Summoning. With a sound that would just as soon excite fans of video game music or “new age” artists like David Arkenstone as their orginal black metal fan base, Summoning have forged a truly unique musical path. While their first studio album, Lugburz (1995), was relatively standard for the synth-laden black metal of its day, they nearly finalized the sound that made them famous on Minas Morgul, released later that same year. Since then, the only perceptible change has been a slow decline in the use of tremolo guitar; the quality of the songwriting and the imaginative world it invokes has remained pretty consistently superb.

For me at least, Summoning and Tolkien’s fantasy world have become nearly inseparable. The echoing, tribal drums paint vast landscapes cast dark by distorted vocals and guitar. The synth speckles the scene in a light that, never breaching the world of full orchestration, retains a fantasy aspect through its unnatural sound. The lyrics enliven the music with the spirit of an epic tale–whether it be the dramatic narrated loop on on “South Away”–“By the crowns of the seven kings and the rods of the five wizards!”–the water god Ulmo’s bold proclamations on “Farewell”–Who can tell you the age of the moon? But I can! Who can call the fish from the depths of the sea? Yes, I can! Who can change the shapes of the hills and the headlands? I can!–or the spirit of perseverance on the track here featured–“Though his body is not tall and his courage seems small, his fame will take long to fade.”

Tolkien’s greatest achievement was to craft a fantasy world so vast that imaginative minds ever since have managed to forge a place within it. Summoning have done so with a level of excellence nearly unrivaled, and they continue to today. There might have been a seven year gap between Oath Bound (2006) and Old Mornings Dawn (2013), but their new release is in every way on par with the rest. It’s a bit of a wonder that they’re only ranked 26th on my decade-spanning last.fm charts. I suspect that, another ten years from now, they’ll be much nearer the top, because their music takes me to a place that is eternal.

Song of the Day: Mirror, Mirror (by Blind Guardian)


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The latest “Song of the Day” comes courtesy of one of my favorite bands. Anyone who has been following this site and this recurring feature pretty much knows I speak of the awesome epicness of the German power metal band Blind Guardian. The song from their expansive discography I’ve chosen this time around is the song “Mirror, Mirror”.

This song combines two every epic things together: Power Metal + J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion = epic awesomeness.

The song itself and it’s lyrics tell of Turgon, King of the Noldor and second son of Fingolfin, brother to Fingon, Aredhel and Argon who builds the famed city of Gondolin during the First Age of Middle-Earth. The city was to be a safe haven for Turgon’s people who were in the midst of an age long war against the fallen Valar, Morgoth. It’s a song that tells of Turgon’s decision to build the city with assistance from the Valar and Lord of Water, Ulmo.

It speaks of the long road and desperation of Turgon to try and save the Noldor from the armies of Morgoth. It’s a tragic tale that hints at the ultimate fate of Turgon and Gondolin. A dream that ultimately will end in the ultimate betrayal from within.

I know that there are people who still thinks that metal is all about fast, loud, discordant guitar playing backed up by screaming and guttural sounds that pass off as singing, but Blind Guardian should dismiss such notion. There’s definitely nothing guttural about this song.

Mirror, Mirror

Far, far beyond the island
We dwelt in shades of twilight
Through dread and weary days
Through grief and endless pain

It lies unknown
The land of mine
A hidden gate
To save us from the shadow fall
The lord of water spoke
In the silence
Words of wisdom
I’ve seen the end of all
Be aware the storm gets closer

Mirror Mirror on the wall
True hope lies beyond the coast
You’re a damned kind can’t you see
That the winds will change
Mirror Mirror on the wall
True hope lies beyond the coast
You’re a damned kind can’t you see
That tomorrows bears insanity

Gone’s the wisdom
Of a thousand years
A world in fire and chains and fear
Leads me to a place so far
Deep down it lies my secret vision
I better keep it safe

Shall I leave my friends alone
Hidden in my twilight hall
(I) know the world is lost in fire
Sure there is no way to turn it
Back to the old days
Of bliss and cheerful laughter
We’re lost in barren lands
Caught in the running flames
Alone
How shall we leave the lost road
Time’s getting short so follow me
A leader’s task so clearly
To find a path out of the dark

Mirror Mirror on the wall
True hope lies beyond the coast
You’re a damned kind can’t you see
That the winds will change
Mirror Mirror on the wall
True hope lies beyond the coast
You’re a damned kind can’t you see
That the winds will change

Even though
The storm calmed down
The bitter end
Is just a matter of time

Shall we dare the dragon
Merciless he’s poisoning our hearts
Our hearts

How shall we leave the lost road
Time’s getting short so follow me
A leader’s task so clearly
To find a path out of the dark

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir. by Peter Jackson)


kinopoisk.ru

It’s hard to believe that’s it’s been 11 years since Peter Jackson released The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on the masses in 2001. There were much trepidation from Tolkien fans that Jackson (who had been known mostly for low-budget splatter horror-comedies) wouldn’t be able to handle the monumental task of adapting what many consider the greatest novel ever written in the 20th century. Tolkien’s epic fantasy became the standard by which fnatasy epics would be compared to for decades to come and still do. To say that Jackson succeeded in this epic task would be an understatement. The Lord of the Rings trilogy would hoard awards from 2001 to 2003 and also box-office receipts to make any dwarf-lord green with envy.

It’s now 2012 and we finally have the release of Jackson’s next trip into Middle-Earth as he adapts another of Tolkien’s beloved novels. This time he tackles The Hobbit which for some Tolkien fans remains their favorite of the author’s works. It’s a novel that might not have the epic scope and breadth of The Lord of the Rings, but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up in being a fun, adventure tale of a curious hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, a wizard named Gandalf the Grey and a fellowship of twelve dwarfs led by one Thorin Oakenshield of Erebor.

The Hobbit was originally written as a children’s book, but in later years Tolkien would retcon some parts of the novel to better fit with his magnum opus in The Lord of the Rings.It’s this revised version of that children’s story that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo Del Toro would adapt for the big-screen. Initially a two-film set that would tell the story of Bilbo and his merry band of adventurers, but it has since been expanded to become a trilogy as Jackson and his writers take a page out of Tolkien’s bag of tricks and try to tie-in this latest trilogy to the Lord of the Rings which precedes it by a over a decade.

The first film in this new trilogy is called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and we begin by returning to sometime before the beginning of the first trilogy’s first film. We see the aged Bilbo reminiscing of his adventures 60 years hence and deciding to put it to pen and paper as a sort of memoir of that adventure to reclaim the lost dwarf-hold of Erebor. It’s in this opening that we get to see Frodo once more (played once again by Elijah Wood who doesn’t seem to have aged) prior to him taking up the One Ring.

Bilbo recounts to Frodo the realm of Erebor deep inside the Lonely Mountain east of the Shire to Frodo and how it’s wealth in silver, mithril, gold and precious gems became well-known throughout Middle-Earth. Yet, as Bilbo warns, it’s the very sickness of avarice by Erebor’s Thror the King which seals the dwarf-hold’s doom. We learn that hoards of wealth does more than light up the dwarf king’s eyes with greed but also brings the attention of one of the very last dragon’s in Middle-Earth. The arrival of Smaug to Erebor signals the death of not just that dwarf realm, but the surrounding human town of Dale. The surviving dwarfs of Erebor flee in a massive diaspora towards any safe haven willing to take them in. What was once a proud and powerful realm has now been sundered and it’s afterwards that we get to the meat of the film’s story.

Martin Freeman as a younger Bilbo Baggins was more than just great casting but one which the film needed if one was to believe that this young Bilbo would grow old to be the Ian Holm one fans of the first trilogy have come to know well. His performance as Bilbo Baggins of Bag End becomes the anchor from which the rest of the company would revolve around. When we first meet Freeman as Bilbo he’s not the adventurer that he would become, but a hobbit that’s respectable and one not for doing anything foolish like going on adventures. Yet, his lot in life changes as Gandalf maneuvers the situation so that he becomes embroiled in the quest by Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage) to retake his ancestral lands of Erebor and it’s massive wealth from Smaug who has taken it for his lair.

While many would think that a film called The Hobbit would focus on Bilbo I thought the way the film unfolded that this story was all about the dwarfs with extra focus on the single-minded Thorin who comes off initially as both condescending, superior and dismissive of poor old Bilbo. The film never fails to show how much Thorin thinks so less of Bilbo yet throughout the film’s two and a half and more running time we see cracks in Thorin’s ice-cold demeanor towards the young hobbit. By film’s end we see just how wrong Thorin has been of Bilbo’s worth and it makes for one of the film’s more emotional scenes when Thorin realizes this as well.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not just about a brooding dwarf prince and his motley band of dwarfs getting into one trouble after the next once they’ve left the Shire with Bilbo. The film also brings on a parallel storyline which tries to lay down the foundation that would tie this new trilogy with the first one. It’s the storyline of the Great Necromancer that Gandalf and a fellow wizard, Radagast the Brown, suspect might be the Great Enemy returned. We learn soon enough during the White Council in Rivendell (attended by Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman the White) that this so-called Necromancer might be Sauron looking to regain his former strength and gather an army to him.

It’s this second storyline that get’s sandwiched within the Thorin Oakenshield Fellowship quest that comes off a bit awkward in the film’s overall narrative flow. Where the film is all about fun adventuring and camaraderie when the dwarfs and Bilbo are on the screen, when they’re not and the film tries to tell us about Sauron’s eventual return the film slows down. These scenes are not uninteresting. On it’s own these sequences bring back the epic tone of the original trilogy and brings it into this film, but it’s that very grandiose theme that seems out of place in what is simply a “men on a mission” story.

Fortunately, we don’t spend too much time dwelling on this side-story. The final third of the film is all about Thorin and company needing to escape from one goblin lair and orc ambush to another. The last 45 minutes or so flies back swiftly after a very uneven first two hours that would make more than a few theater-goers look at their watch. The wait is worth it as we see that Jackson hasn’t forgotten how to choreograph and stage fantasy action scenes. While the use of CGI might be more evident this time around than the previous three films they’re still small compared to other blockbuster films of it’s type. It’s still all about WETA practical effects, make-up and costumes that combine to create a world that’s become familiar yet still have a sense of newness to them as we see new areas of Middle-Earth only mentioned in brief passing in the original trilogy.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a wonderful return to the world of Middle-Earth. It is not without it’s missteps and flaws, but it also gets saved by some great performances from the ensemble cast which makes up the dwarfs. The aerial shots of the New Zealand’s eclectic geography shows just how much cinematographer Andrew Lesnie has become such a major component of making Middle-Earth come alive. Even the return of Howard Shore as the film’s composer was a welcome that brought more than a few smiles.

There’s no way of talking about The Hobbit without bringing up the stylistic gamble Peter Jackson has taken in filming this film and the rest of the trilogy in 48fps instead of the traditional 24fps (frames per second) that filmmakers have been using for almost a hundred years now. It’s an aesthetic choice that gives the film a overly realistic look akin to watching a stage production live. Everything looks too perfect and the High-Frame Rate (HFR) takes away some of the cinematic look which many have grown up seeing every time they watch a film. This new filming style works in certain areas like wide shots of the outdoor scenes. Whether it’s the emerald green rolling hills of the Shire to the snowcapped Alpine peaks of the Misty Mountains, these scenes in HFR came out beautiful. It’s when the film switches over to a much more enclosed and personal space within rooms and halls that we get the unusual “soap opera” look some have complained about. It takes a bit of getting used to, but some make the adjustment quickly enough while others may never make the adjustment.

Yet, it is when the film shows a CGI-created sequence that the HFR fails. While the doubling of the frame rate during filming has made the 3D in the film come off smoothly it did make some of the CG-effects come off as too video game-like. A sequence earlier in the film where we see a flashback of Thorin and the dwarfs of Erebor trying to retake another fallen dwarf hold in Moria (Khazadum in dwarfish) looks like a cinematic cutscene as a dwarf army charges and battles it out with an orc and goblin force which had taken Moria as it’s own.

All the scenes where HFR fails to come off as believable turn out better when The Hobbit was seen in traditional 24fps. I actually think that downscaling the film from it’s original HFR to a more traditional film frame speed of 24fps gave the film an even more magical look than the original trilogy. Jackson and his team of filmmakers have two more films to release and hopefully take some of the criticism this first film has received about HFR that they tweak and work on making the new style much more believable instead of taking the audience out of the film’s narrative.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn’t come off as grandiose as the original trilogy and for some that might come as a disappointment. Yet, as an adventure film it more than does it’s job to fully entertain it’s audience while, at the same, time reminding it’s audience how much this film and this trilogy will lead into The Lord of the Rings. I recommend that people just see the film and decide on their own whether it’s a worthy addition to the Middle-Earth saga as seen through the eyes of Peter Jackson. I, for one, think it is and with two more films left we shall see whether Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth has been a triumphant one or not.

Song of the Day: Song of the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (by Neil Finn)


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn’t seem to be resonating with as many people like the previous The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not to say that the film is a bad one. For those disappointed in the film seems to want a repeat of the first trilogy. My review of the film will and shall be up later today to help celebrate the site’s 3rd year anniversary. For now let me share the ending song to the first part of Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien trilogy.

“Song of the Lonely Mountain” is sung by Neil Finn of Crowded House and it follows on the tradition of past Tolkien adaptations by Jackson by turning to musicians who Jackson and Shore enjoy listening to. The song has a Celtic, folksy rock sound to it. I particularly enjoyed the addition of hammers ringing on anvils to help listeners visualize the exiled dwarfs of Erebor toiling in front of their foundry in preparation for the day they retake their homeland from the dragon Smaug.

I didn’t like the song when it was first premiered a couple weeks in advance of the film, but it has since grew on me and has joined the other three end credits songs from the original trilogy as favorite original film songs.

Song of the Lonely Mountain

Far over the Misty Mountains rise
Leave us standing upon the heights
What was before, we see once more
Our kingdom a distant light

Fiery mountain beneath the moon
The words unspoken, we’ll be there soon
For home a song that echoes on
And all who find us will know the tune

Some folk we never forget
Some kind we never forgive
Haven’t seen the back of us yet
We’ll fight as long as we live
All eyes on the hidden door
To the Lonely Mountain borne
We’ll ride in the gathering storm
Until we get our long-forgotten gold

We lay under the Misty Mountains cold
In slumbers deep and dreams of gold
We must awake, our lives to make
And in the darkness a torch we hold

From long ago when lanterns burned
Till this day our hearts have yearned
Her fate unknown the Arkenstone
What was stolen must be returned

We must awake and make the day
To find a song for heart and soul

Some folk we never forget
Some kind we never forgive
Haven’t seen the end of it yet
We’ll fight as long as we live
All eyes on the hidden door
To the Lonely Mountain borne
We’ll ride in the gathering storm
Until we get our long-forgotten gold
Far away from Misty Mountains cold

Trailer: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2nd Official)


It just a littleunder 3 months before Peter Jackson takes us back to Middle-Earth with the first of three films that will make up The Hobbit trilogy.

There’s not much else to say other than this latest trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journeyjust continues to whet the appetite for all things Middle-Earth. It’s much more action-packed with some nice new scenes instead of just rehashing what was in the original teaser trailer from year ago.

Enough words. Just watch the trailer below and decide for yourself whether another trip to Middle-Earth (before all the War of the Ring brouhaha of the first trilogy) is worth your monies.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premieres worldwide on December 14, 2012.

Trailer: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is the most anticipated summer blockbuster for this upcoming 2012 then it would be safe to say that the most anticipated film for 2012 for some would be Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

This is a film that has been years in the making and even more years in development hell as the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit, was entangled through many different studios. Once those entanglements were finally resolved and the film set to be put into production the film suffered more setbacks as budget and script rewrites kept things from starting. The original filmmaker picked to helm this two-part prequel, Guillermo Del Toro, had to back out after years of delays though he still remains as producer and his ideas and conceptual art and design has become the foundation for the film.

The film finally got the greenlight to start filming once Peter Jackson stopped searching for Del Toro’s replacement and took on the role as director once again. While Del Toro was a great choice I think most fans of the original trilogy were glad that Jackson decided to just take up the director’s chair once more. Who else knew the world of Middle-Earth on film better than the man who made what was called the unfilmable novel into the new millenium’s iconic film trilogy.

Like the production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson and his geniuses at WETA have been pretty good with showing fans progress made on the films through video blogs released by Jackson himself. With just a year left to go before part one of this two-part prequel premieres we finally have the first official teaser trailer to the film and I must say that it’s great. Even from just snippets shown in the teaser one could see some of Del Toro’s more darker concepts and influence in the film’s look and tone. But then some of it also comes from Jackson himself whose early background as a filmmaker was all about dark, macabre subjects and themes.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is set for a December 14, 2012 release.

Opeth and Summoning: Music for October (part 7)


October has always been my favorite month. It marks the beginning of a seasonal reclamation of man by the world, in which civilization’s mask of sensibility begins to slip away. Tasteless architectural symbols of control over nature digress to their more appropriate forms, as frail refuge against forces beyond our control or comprehension. It is, to misappropriate Agalloch, “a celebration for the death of man… …and the great cold death of the Earth.”

Last year I posted a six part series on some of my favorite black metal, folk metal, and related genres for the season. I had intended to do something similar this year, but time just did not allow for it. I never got around to coming up with a central concept on which to focus. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the two bands I have listened to the most this month, Opeth and Summoning, both defy all standards of classification.

I would like to showcase both, but I can’t imagine doing so properly without embarking on a project way beyond the scope of my time and desire to write at the moment. So I will keep this short and sweet, featuring only Opeth’s Orchid (1995) and Summoning’s Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame (2001), and perhaps in the process still introduce you to some amazing music you had not heard before.


Opeth – The Apostle in Triumph

Everyone has heard Opeth, right? Their fame is fairly unprecedented among metal bands that are actually worth a damn. Yet, out of touch with what is and is not popular today as I am, I still get the impression that what I think of as Opeth is just as relatively obscure as it had been when I first heard them well over a decade ago.

Opeth as a popular band, in fact, is entirely foreign to me. Their first album to make the US charts, Damnation, came out right around the time I stopped listening to them altogether, and long after my interest had begun to wane. I was introduced to Opeth, like everyone around the turn of the century, via Demon of the Fall. My Arms Your Hearse was one of the most emotionally charged and breathtaking albums I’d ever heard. At the time, if you wanted to hear more, you had to look backwards, to Orchid and Morningrise, both of which were very different beasts. With them, if no one reminded you of the distortion and growled vocals, you might forget, amidst Akerfeldt’s soft, subtle lamentations, that you were listening to metal at all.

It took both a long time to grow on me. It’s not that they were inaccessible, but that peculiar teenage ability to focus in on a single masterpiece with no appreciation whatsoever for its surroundings had hold of me. There I was covering My Arms Your Hearse from start to finish on my new guitar (sure wish I could still do so now), and I’d listened to Morningrise maybe five times. Orchid never broke through the cellophane. I finally turned to them just barely in time to soak them up before history left them in the dust, a last minute love affair I was conscious of at the time. They ended up becoming my two favorite Opeth albums, and still are.

Even though My Arms Your Hearse was, alongside Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle-Earth, easily the most influential album in my life, Orchid and Morningrise are the two I look back on most nostalgically, and their melancholy beauty always reverberates the sensation.


Opeth – The Twilight is My Robe

So maybe Orchid isn’t really Opeth’s best album. Perhaps I am biased beyond reconciliation. But at any rate, my obsession with it certainly isn’t some subconscious desire to show I am an “old school” fan–the sort of accusation I tend to see on those rare occasions that the album is mentioned at all. Whether you find my placement of it at the top of Akerfeldt’s discography unjust or not, I encourage you to give The Apostle in Triumph and The Twilight is My Robe long hard listens. Agalloch being a decidedly winter-oriented band, I have experienced no music which captures the melancholy side of the autumnal season better than this.


Summoning – A New Power is Rising

I obsessed over The Hobbit as a child, the Lord of the Rings as a teen, and The Silmarillion in my earliest adult years. J.R.R. Tolkien pretty well haunted most of the formative years of my life, and I am forever indebted to him. A few months ago I picked up one of his books for the first time in perhaps a decade, committed to reading them all, but time simply did not allow for it. As with all undertakings though, it influenced my taste in music for the time at hand. I spent much of the summer re-exploring Summoning–a band I’d never actually encountered until Oath Bound in 2006. Thus they were readily at hand at the start of October, and since then they’ve comprised over half of everything I have listened to.

I dare say no single author has had more impact on music than Tolkien, and while I will always regard Nightfall in Middle-Earth as the greatest relevant triumph, Summoning’s discography is a close second. The one band I know of which has taken Tolkien as their lyrical and musical muse pretty much exclusively, they have forged an entirely new style of music over the years that captures that feeling I always got reading him to perfection.


Summoning – South Away

Summoning emerged from black metal, but from the very beginning they stood apart. By Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame in 2001, my favorite album of theirs, this connection had dwindled to little more than the vocals and some tremolo guitar. The constant use of keyboards (often set to replicate brass) and the heavily reverberated, slow drumming are what characterize them best, along with frequent spoken vocal loops.

Perhaps they intend to sound fairly sinister, with lyrics focused more often than not on the darker forces of Tolkien’s tales, but the effect for me is nothing of the sort. The drums paint a vast, diverse landscape of mountains, forests, rivers and plains that are entirely neutral–dangerous to be certain, but more enticing than aversive. They beckon you out to explore the unknown, steeped in mystery–a fantasy world which is here Middle-Earth, but could just as soon be your own back yard on an autumn day, when the changes at hand call on you to leave humanity behind and wander off into the amoral wilderness.


Summoning – Runes of Power

I love black metal, horror, and everything of the sort, but I think the word “neutral” best describes what I have been tapping into this Halloween season. No real glorification of evil for its own sake, nor any embrace of bygone cultures and values here. Orchid and Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame both tap into the individual’s relation to the world absent civilization’s presumptions and impositions–to the mystery of nature and the manifold possibilities within it which mundane daily life denies–be the experience melancholy or thrilling.