Crime Records

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Insomnium - Shadows Of The Dying Sun Review

Insomnium.  Shadows Of The Dying Sun

1. The Primeval Dark
2. While We Sleep
3. Revelation
4. Black Heart Rebellion
5. Lose To Night
6. Collapsing Words
7. The River
8. Ephemeral
9. The Promethean Song
10. Shadows Of The Dying Sun

I like many different types of metal (even a few non metal ones too), from Iron Maiden’s brand of heavy metal, through Blind Guardians fantasy driven power/speed metal, Ensiferum’s viking fueled lunacy, Nightwish’s beautiful and often sweeping epics and finally, but by no means least, Amon Amarth’s melodic death growling, split your skull as soon as look at you kind of mayhem.  I love them all.  But, when I catch wind of a forthcoming release of the latter genre, I get really excited. And no less with Insomnium, a melodic death metal band from Finland, which is always an exciting prospect of having my brains “metal cortex” (I totally made that up) tickled.

And so we begin with “The Primeval Dark".  It’s a great opening track with its initial slow melody which swells into heavy guitars and harks to their vintage days.  Which is to say, Finnish through and through.

It's only the second track in and already Insomnium are showcasing their ability to diversify.  "While We Sleep" has all the elements you would expect from a melodeath band but wrapped into one excellently executed track.  The customary heavy guitars and low growl vocals are still here but are complemented with more hushed, softer vocals.

"Revelation" shows Insomnium's writing and performing abilities nicely.  It does not lack for heaviness in any form but at the same time manages to be sweeping and beautiful in its own way.  There is also an extremely beautiful guitar solo to this track that had me rewinding again and again to listen to.  

"Black Heart Rebellion" is another long track.  Sometimes when a band writes a long track it can often become detious and overly long, almost as if it's long for the sake of being long.  This isn't the case with these guys.  Every second of the song is absorbing and interesting.  The contrast between heavy guitar moments interspersed with growling vocals and acoustic moments is spell binding.

"Lose To Night" will, for many death metal and Insomnium fans, rankle slightly.  The simple reason for this is that it contains "clean" vocals.  The song itself is another great case in point regarding Insomnium’s ability to dabble in more than one style.  The track feels very emotional (and before the elitists start waving the " emo" signs, if there was no emotion at all in your music it would be as flat as a pancake) which is why I feel that the clean vocals feel so right.

"Collapsing Words" is an odd little number.  I can't seem to get into it.  It's not that it's a bad song by any means it just seems a little “death by numbers”.  This could probably be the main contender on this album for filler track.

The first minute or so of "The River" reminded me greatly of In Flames.  Not a bad thing at all it just caused a little reminiscence.  Again, there are clean vocals overlaying acoustic guitar here.  It works, and well.  I definitely think Insomnium are much more adventurous in this release.  Maybe it's a sign of things to come.  After all the melodic death metal scene does seem to have stagnated somewhat so maybe they're exploring new ground.  A little progressive death, anybody?

" Ephemeral" feel like a no-brainer.  It's a good song but I think it's definitely a quick fix, feel good track.  Not much else to say on this one I'm afraid.

As usual, in my reviews of late, there seem to be a least one song that I can’t quite fathom.  On this album there are two and "The Promethean Song" is the second in this album.  The song in itself isn’t bad but it feels completely out of place.  In fact, it’s as if it should be part of the arsenal of some goth rock outfit.

The title track, "Shadows Of The Dying Sun" opens with a nice bit of bass work from Niilo, accompanied by drums.  It's a great track to end the album as its sweeping and layered crafting allows for a fitting full-stop (or period) to an amazing musical journey.  There are clean vocals and growls aplenty and some beautifully wrought guitar parts.  The song itself closes with a very ethereal sounding outro that had me wishing for more.

I have to say that this album is pretty good.  I feel that Insomnium have brought a little fresh air into a slightly stagnating genre.  Many aspects of the album are cleverly crafted and wrought.  But what really stands out, for me at least, is Markus Hirvonen. His drumming is at times both sublime and technical.  It manages to stand out amongst an already amazing performance by the rest of the band, which illustrates how accomplished he is at his craft.  The vocal work, again, is exceptional with the customary growls from Niilo Sevanen and a refreshing amount of softer vocals and whispered parts by Ville Friman.  Although this isn’t the best album I've heard this year, so far, it’s still really good.  However, it tends to get a little flat from the middle of the album.  There aren’t any bad songs, not at all, but I think Insomnium maybe trying to move away from their traditional area of expertise.   And so, taking this into account, I feel this album is worth a resounding