Insomnium
Shadows of the Dying Sun

As I detailed in my review of 2011s One for Sorrow, Finland’s Insomnium have become a predictable but brilliant stalwart of melancholic melodic death metal, a gradual, subtle shift from their more doomy beginnings. They have their sound and they know how to wield it perfectly, even at the expense of progression or growth, instead relying on a perfect delivery of crestfallen melodic death metal with strains of doom here and there. And the band’s 6th album, their 5th that sees this more melodic death metal path, is no exception. It’s utterly perfect in every aspect of the style.

Crunchy Finnish guitars, deep growls, some somber croons and a mix of galloping melodies, delicate synths and layers of rending, sonorous  harmonies flock every track.  The nods to peers like Amorphis, Swallow the Sun, Rapture and other Finnish luminaries in death metal and doom, remain tangible but Insomnium have simply become masters of their craft. Despite added dynamics and pacing that have been on the upswing for a few albums now, the sense of sorrow and sadness throbs under the cantering riffs and often swell with wilting perfection.

After a sort of intro track in the crunchy pulse of “The Primeval Dark”, the albums starts for real with “While We Sleep” with  what can only be termed a classic Insomnium rumble and solo throughout, complete with rending acoustic bridge before the track’s emotive peak. “Revelation” delivers a more uplifting gait and melody line with soaring synths and a gorgeous climaxing solo.  A shimmering blast beat starts  (and resurfaces in) “Black Heart Rebellion” , showing the band has a few slightly more aggressive tricks up their depressive sleeve even if the track does fall back on the good old mid paced rumble and melody.

And so goes the rest of the album; predictable yet still utterly enthralling at every turn and note; the somber strains of  the ballad-ish”Lost to Night”, the album’s softest track , the standout (and possibly one of my favorite songs of the year) “The River”, with its weeping, majestic synths, spectacular opening blast and gut wrenching harmonies. Admittedly, the album could have ended there, but three more songs round out the album with what can only be termed as typical Insomnium songs. Nothing terrible, nothing spectacular just efficient, melodic, somber ‘Finnish-ness’. “‘Ephemeral” will get knocked cos the opening riff could be Evanescence, “The Promethean Song” drags a bit, and the closing title track feels a little tacked on but peaks and ends the album perfectly, but all are undeniably Insomnium;- lush yet lugubrious.

And with that, one could argue that Insomnium have become Bolt Thrower or Dismember-ish within the paradigms of their style, delivering a predictably Finnish and morose take on melodic death metal. But it is now delivered with such reliable consistency and quality it can’t be ignored or discredited. They are that good at it now.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 6th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    this has been on repeat for the past week. big improvement for me are the richer, deeper clean vocals. I didn’t mind the addition of cleans on the last few but they were a bit too ‘youthful,’ kind of reminded me of contemporary US emo/metalcore stuff. These have much more gravitas.

    I also think “While We Sleep” is not only the band’s finest moment but possibly one of the best songs in the melodic death/doom genre to date, period.


  2. Commented by: timmy

    I can’t disagree with gabaghoul on either point.


  3. Commented by: Luke_22

    Yeah they sure are reliable and I actually enjoyed this more than One For Sorrow. In saying that, I don’t think it quite stands up to their best work. I would like to hear a bit more speed and aggression back in the mix, but otherwise this is another very solid, dependable release from a class act.


  4. Commented by: Staylow

    I need to listen to this more. Only played it twice thus far, but liked what I’ve heard. Hopefully I dig it more than their last, which I felt was a disappointment compared to Across the Dark. Nice review, as always Erik.


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