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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Insomnium: Across the Dark

Year released: 2009
Website: www.insomnium.net
Label: Candlelight Records


1. Equivalence [03:18]

2. Down with the Sun [04:22]

3. Where the Last Wave Broke [05:03]

4. The Harrowing Years [06:39]

5. Against the Stream [06:11]

6. Lay of the Autumn [09:08]

7. Into the Woods [05:08]

8. Weighed Down with Sorrow [05:51]


Melodic death metal with influences from doom metal sounds almost like the band's contradicting themselves in terms of musical style really. After all, doom metal is typically slower and heavier while melodeath is well... melodic. But Insomnium aren't contradicting themselves. They're playing some great metal, stuff that aren't commercially accessible, but doesn't take a lot to appreciate.

Formed in 1997, Insomnium are still experimenting within this chosen style of theirs. Across the Dark deviates quite a bit from their previous works, particularly its direct predecessor, Above the Weeping World, which was released in 2006. The melodic death aspect have been emphasized more, thus the more prevalent heavy doom acoustics from their previous album have been sacrificed for a generally faster pace, and more melodic riffs, leads and melodies. This makes Across the Dark one of the most catchy albums the band has ever released, but miraculously not at all losing its doom metal edge that projects melancholy, dread and despair. The song "Down with the Sun" definitely stands out among all the tracks, as the most balanced one that provides a comfortable tempo for riffs that can repeat themselves without becoming boring but with enough variety for the song to be melodic and still not lose its emotional power. Being currently more into doom metal, I personally found faster tracks like "Into the Woods" less tasteful, while "The Harrowing Years", considered more boring and dreary, appealed to me more. Its up to you really, but no song here veers off to either extremes of death or doom, but stays relatively near the middle in varying degrees.

The inclusion of clean vocals in some of the tracks off this album have been a topic of quite some discussion. I decided that I would prefer them to be absent, because Jules Näveri has a decidedly more mainstream voice that adds more to the melodic element, instead of conveying more emotion to fuel the band's general themes of sorrow, loss and mourning. They weren't bad, but as much as they helped to make the songs nicer to headbang to, they seemed out of place. This might explain why "When the Last Wave Broke" is one of the weaker tracks. I would also have preferred it if Insomnium have stuck to their previous influences for lyrics. The poetic lines from their previous works have appealed to me greatly, especially when they helped so much more to connect with their emotional music. While the lyrics in Across the Dark still convey sorrow and nostalgia, they have become more vague and have essentially lost that creative clarity that could turn their songs into truly top-notch masterpieces.

That's not to say that Across the Dark isn't awesome though, because it is. Insomnium's strength lies in their ability to create so much from rudimentary melodies. The double bass is simple, there is no need for technically straining beats from the drums, Ville Friman and Ville Vänni aren't threatening to severe their fingers by moving them rapidly all over their guitars. Everything is just right though, down to Niilo Sevänen's low growls, which complements the songs and brings out the atmosphere very well. When the last track "Weighed Down with Sorrow" comes to an innuendo, its title will reflect exactly how you feel. And if that's not masterful work from a melodeath band with doom tendencies, then maybe you just want to listen to some thrash metal and get angry coz sorrow's not for you.

Below is the official music video for "Down with the Sun". Go get emo my friends, but let your emotions flow through and fuel some energy. You'll feel high in a different manner.

Verdict: 9.3/10

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