Sunday, March 25, 2012

Insomnium - One For Sorrow (Limited Edition)

One For Sorrow (Limited Edition)
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Insomnium have been one of the melodic death metal scene’s underground favourites for the better part of the last decade, with all four of the Finnish act’s albums earning considerable praise. Following on from their 2009 release ‘Across The Dark’ (Which like all of their former releases, was issued through Candlelight Records), the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/bassist Niilo Sevänen, guitarist/backing vocalist Ville Friman, guitarist Ville Vänni and drummer Markus Hirvonen) are back with their fifth effort ‘One For Sorrow’ – which is also their first for Century Media Records.
With a fairly successful and firmly established sound in place (At least for their last three albums), it comes as no surprise to find that on ‘One For Sorrow’, Insomnium have stuck with their tried and true take on the melodic death metal sound. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with maintaining the levels of perfection the band has undoubtedly reached with their last couple of releases, there is something to be said for pushing the boundaries to not only challenge yourself, but your audience as well.
The first track on the album, ‘Inertia’, is an interesting and slow building near instrumental track that reveals a bit of a post-rock sound, but works exceedingly well at introducing their follow-up effort ‘Through The Shadows’. It’s here that we get the Insomnium sound that we’re all accustomed to, with the band relying more on textures and moods on the guitar front rather than complexity and technical precision to get across their message. In a lot of ways, Insomnium’s music sounds like a cross of latter day Amorphis, Amon Amarth and Kalmah, but without sounding like any one of the bands in particular. Vocally, the duality of deep growls and clean vocals are a little hit and miss, with the cleaner efforts sounding a little tacked on. Overall, ‘Through The Shadows’ is an O.K. track, but far from one of the band’s finest.
‘Song Of The Blackest Bird’ and ‘Only One Who Waits’ (Which features a guest guitar solo from ex-Pathos/Dimension Zero/Dark Tranquillity guitarist Daniel Antonsson) on the other hand are far stronger efforts, with the band showcasing a little more aggression and speed in their song writing, without losing any of the despair and sorrow that Sevänen produces through his low growled vocal efforts.
More than a touch of Amon Amarth can be heard throughout the choruses of ‘Unsung’, but doesn’t harm the track given that the song itself is a strong one from Insomnium, while ‘Every Hour Wounds’ sees the band ramp up the speed and aggression once again, but with a slower chorus and some clever backing vocals to make it stand out from some of the other heavier efforts on the album.
The short instrumental piece ‘Decoherence’ is a welcome break around the latter half of the album, and a wonderful segue-way into ‘Lay The Ghost To Rest’, which features some great riffs, haunting melodies and a slower pace to emphasise the heavier elements of the band’s music.
‘Regain The Fire’, much like ‘Through The Shadows’ earlier on the album, is one of the more disappointing efforts from the band, with the clean vocals sounding a little too out of place to sound natural. In stark contrast is the title track ‘One For Sorrow’, which is one of the album’s more doom influenced and progressive efforts, and by far one of the album’s genuine highlights.
The final track on the limited edition version is ‘Weather The Storm’, which was originally released as a digital only single six months prior to the release of ‘One For Sorrow’. Despite featuring Dark Tranquillity vocalist Mikael Stanne, ‘Weather The Storm’ is surprisingly not too far removed sound wise from what you would otherwise expect from the band in general. Song wise however, it’s certainly a strong effort from Insomnium, and a worthy edition to the album. It’s just a shame that the b-side to ‘Weather The Storm’ (The instrumental ‘Beyond The Horizon’) wasn’t also included.
Overall, ‘One For Sorrow’ is everything you would expect from Insomnium, with little in the way of any real surprises. While I was hoping for something a little different from the band, I can say that I enjoyed the album for what it is. Whether or not I will be satisfied with another carbon copy the next time around may very well be a different story.

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© Justin Donnelly