Friday, April 18, 2014

Insomnium - Shadows of the Dying Sun (2014)
Finnish metal is renowned for its melancholic, melodic qualities and Insomnium are one of the best exemplars of these traits. Returning for their sixth album, these melodeath/doom masters aren't looking to re-invent the wheel, having basically settled on their sound starting with their third album, but they are making some minor tweaks. Perhaps the most noticeable tweak is the increased amount of clean vocals. Songs such as "Lose to Night" and "Promethean Song" feature some truly memorable clean choruses that might miff a few hardcore fans, but to my ears sounds like a natural progression of their sound. Another small way in which this album distinguishes itself from its predecessors is the use of black metal-esque blast-beats on "Black Heart Rebellion" and "The River," the latter of which displays an excellent tremolo-picked melody that could have been lifted right from a Woods of Desolation tune. "Ephemeral" is a bit of an odd experiment for the band as it's probably the most accessible song they've made yet, sounding like something modern In Flames might do (not that that's a bad thing by any means). One of my favorites on the album is the single "While We Sleep" which shows off some of the band's best songwriting skills with killer riffs, catchiness, and a soaring outro solo that you can't imagine the song doing without. My other favorite is "Revelation" which is probably the most 'atmospheric' track, especially given its dark, brooding, whispered vocals and beautiful melodies. Where I feel the album falls a bit flat is on "The River" and the title track which are both too long to keep my attention throughout. It also wouldn't have hurt for them to reach out into the musical universe and pull in some more influences (i.e. a folk song a la Agalloch or something doomy like Swallow the Sun) just to make for a more varied record. But those are still minor quibbles since this is probably my favorite Insomnium album since "Above the Weeping World." This album's formulaic approach can be forgiven for the facts that Insomnium are one of the most unique melodeath bands out there and, not least of all, that this is a great album. It might not hold up to the first three records, but it's something fans of the band won't be disappointed in.
(Special thanks to Century Media for providing me with an advance copy.)

No comments:

Post a Comment