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Album Review

Summoning the Lich – ‘United in Chaos’ [Album Review]

Emerging from Earth’s deepest caverns is Summoning the Lich, a death metal unit from St. Louis, Missouri, and their album ‘United in Chaos.’



Summoning The Lich ‘United In Chaos’ album artwork
Summoning The Lich ‘United In Chaos’ album artwork

Emerging from Earth’s deepest caverns is Summoning the Lich, a death metal unit from St. Louis, Missouri. Since their formation in 2017, people from around the globe have become fans of the group’s punishing and melodic sound and phenomenal fantasy-entwined lyrics. Within their music is a realm of its very own. Taking influence from The Lord of the Rings, Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and Adventure Time, their stories will capture minds for years to come. You can see them live when they join Abigail Williams X Vale of Pnath on their US tour, 5/17-5/26.

United in Chaos (older review here) was released through Prosthetic Records on February 26, 2021. The debut album tells a dark and layered tale about the fall of the Kingdom Rodon and rise of the Lich. There is a stellar balance of melody and utter devastation, with precise and orchestrated guitar hooks and lead sections. One moment, you feel as if the room is caving in, and the next, you are floating and can feel the groove swaying like a field of green. Vocalist David Bruno (read an interview here) harnesses an arsenal of techniques and voices in which he narrates the story and builds each scene played out within. During a live performance I attended in 2022, Bruno embodied the Lich himself during and between songs with a sinister and ghoulish tone, painting the world for all of us to see.

Summoning the Lich, via Prosthetic Records

Summoning the Lich, via Prosthetic Records

Below are my own interpretations and perspectives of each individual track.

1. “The Nightmare Begins”

Looking back over the course of time itself, they relive the flame of their kin being extinguished by the very race they were chosen to protect: Mankind. It was handed down to them like a potted sapling given to a child.They swore to guide and shelter it from dangers across the realm and even beyond. Now, a single soul remains, venturing deep beneath the mountains, hatred burning in their core, they don’t merely seek revenge. As they gaze upon two sources of ancient power, a cruel and calculated path begins to form before them.

2. “Cult of the Ophidian”

The reflection of their home ablaze shines in his dark eyes; the vision seen was intended for one mind. Tasked with foreseeing all segments of past, present and future, only to be crossed and exiled by those they serve. Could the outcome have been avoided? There must be an answer somewhere as to how such a catastrophe was unseen. Were they so naive to believe danger was out of reach?

3. “The Gatekeeper”

Effigies line the path and orbs of light lead the way down towards the entrance of this frightening gateway. Separating this realm from theirs is a veil that ends the living but strengthens the cursed. Perched upon the arch is a towering shadow, cloaked and silent, their gaze pierces the darkness like an owl, a guardian in the night. As the sky dips into the molten sunrise, a wave of steel and wood creeps from its glowing core, stretched as far as the eye can see. The hooded figure leaps from their station and begins calling all who slumber beyond this portal. If only these invaders knew what horrors awaited them.

4. “Demon of the Snow”

Only moments ago, were the cries of battle echoing across the valley. Now, nothing. Spears and shields litter the snow while a stench lingers. Around the narrow crimson valley lay countless slain battalions of those who approached this ghastly, frozen fortress with venom and hope in their terrified hearts. Within the great halls of the mountain resides a choir of chanting voices and low drums. All breathe unwillingly as they march toward the abyss. In chains, stumbling toward the sacrificial sanctuary, an unsuspecting innocent soon will meet their demise. Thousands of bloodshot eyes attach their gaze to the offering, possessed souls and altered perceptions beg for the ritual to begin, and just as a bone dagger is drawn, there is silence. A force of terrible power has awoken.

5. “Predatory Reflection”

Entering this dimly lit room large shards of glass begin to surround them, as if they were upon a pedestal. At first glance they see nothing, only a mist within the mirror’s image; impatience stirs beneath a blank stare. Then, a distant shape becomes illuminated, a cheeky grin forms and they bask in the sight of a formidable figure. Through their eyes, they are witnesses to a true god – elegance and beauty beyond any in this world and soon to be worshiped by all. But it is all a mirage. What stands before them is a gangly shell, drunk on delusions and empty of any life it once held.

6. “Acid Reign”

One by one they fall in line; fear and dogma ensure their obedience as their leaders cower behind stone and bark for control. They lead a campaign of destruction on the quest to the sorcerer’s dwelling with no awareness of the consequences of their carelessness. As days go by, the Lich hears the lands cry; rolling hills and seas of trees now fill his lungs with their ash. From the pits of his being a curse is found. Stepping out on the plateau he commands a vengeful storm. Soon it will melt the stone and metal of the king’s cities and disintegrate all banners flying the crowns sigil.

7. “United in Chaos”

Portals open and close from across the lands, a grand sanctuary greets each specter as a pillar of light strikes at their feet. Emerging is the unmistakable sorcerer’s form. Staff in hand, he looks out on the vulnerable city as a subtle darkness reaches out to replace the day’s light. A sigh of satisfaction wheezes from him and wrath crawls through his body. As he looks back on this crowd, each begins to bow, pledging allegiance to their new leader.

8. “Descend”

Echoing voices enter the void, growing louder as they search for a wandering shadow. As black as this lightless realm is, it wades in the mist seeking nothing. Like becoming bewitched, the faint prayers invade its frenzied mind, and, without issue, the spell becomes embedded. Entering the living world, the sky fills with fire and the air thickens. Unsuspecting pests, unaware of their own fate, begin to fight for escape, only to be confronted with a grim glimpse of oblivion. Suddenly, the soul is viciously torn from the human form and travels through the space between life and death, unable to halt being dragged into oblivion.

9. “Hymns (Of the Witches of the West)”

A small child stands in a lone doorway with tear-stained cheeks and wide eyes looking down at the smoldering embers where a stitched doll shifts to dust. A town depleted of life as swiftly as a bolt of lightning to a metal spire. Listen closely; buried between the lines are the chants which bear no mercy to those who raise a fist to any in their order.

10. “Death Crystal”

Deep within a meditation like dream, the biomes are seen passing by in a haze. Although the lands remain dry of life, a twinkling light far beyond any settlement appears. There, trudging through the scorching sands, is a withering man scarred from the atrocities by the hand of greedy kingdoms. Behind those eyes are flashbacks to burning homes and terror. With ease, the darkness enters him. Sweet whispers of vengeance slither from the corners of his mind; an offer irresistible to refuse. Without hesitation, an answer is given; all he desires is to see the weak king blink from existence. Another susceptible soul is instantly forfeited and caged for eternity.

11. “Temple of Bone”

Long nails tap the skulls which line the Lich King’s throne, offering echoes through the gloomy haven and down the bone strung halls. His stare, though piercing, is only a front as the mind is elsewhere debating allowing mankind to continue its useless existence or to end it. The choice remains his to make. Centuries come and go, yet, he remains, hesitating to take what should be his. Will they be sent off to a distant realm, unlikely to return, granting him reign over empty land? A dance of voices fills the empty man asking what will come next on this earthly plane.

12. “The Lure of the Necromancer”

Blink, vibrant blue skies are replaced by black and white halls. Panicked eyes now witness a marching crowd, as if under a spell, as they head for a monstrous gate. Knee deep in sludge, he searches the surrounding walls for a glimpse of hope, but before another step is taken, a shadow falls upon the masses. Behold, he who seized this mob from the land of the living, with each new spirit, his aura pulses and strengthens. He possesses a pull on the weak and the lost seeking power. Embrace eternity.

I’m obviously late to the conversation. There have been several reviews and coverage of this album over the years. However, for me, it is still a fresh and undeniably unique entity in the modern death metal industry. As a whole, I have listened to the record on a monthly basis since its release. To put it differently, this is my comfort album when reality begins to suffocate me. Without question. For individual tracks, I find myself returning most often to “Cult of the Ophidian”, “Predatory Reflection”, “Acid Reign”, and “The Lure of the Necromancer”. I hear each member’s footprint and become immersed in the lyrical imagery formed around me as if I were reading a novel. I look forward to the next two albums that will complete the trilogy.

United in Chaos Track Listing:

1. The Nightmare Begins
2. Cult of the Ophidian
3. The Gatekeeper
4. Demon of the Snow
5. Predatory Reflection
6. Acid Reign
7. United in Chaos
8. Descend
9. Hymns (Of the Witches of the West)
10. Death Crystal
11. Temple of Bone
12. The Lure of the Necromancer

Run Time: 45:44
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Record Label: Prosthetic Records