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Insomnium could be likened to a Finnish answer to Amon Amarth, minus the Viking trappings and with a more varied approach that incorporates more acoustic and atmospheric elements. The analogy largely plays into their rugged musical consistency, electing to stick to a style more closely aligned with the early purveyors of the Gothenburg scene, while bringing in a slightly helping of Kalmah and Norther trappings on occasion. Their appeal is largely centered around their ability to remain tasteful in their delivery, not dwelling too long on one given element, while also avoiding the pretension that comes into play with bands that are more overtly progressive. This band knows their audience and what they want, and what they want is a consistent blend of sorrow and rage, bottled up into a nice package that is very specific, yet with a good amount of nuance.
“Above The Weeping World” is basically a continuation of their debut album where the tempo was picked up a bit and a slightly more power metal oriented approach was incorporated. It is a highly effective blend as it avoids the coasting repetition common to the more ambient bound approach of some bands, as well as the almost pop-like formulaic approach that is taken by both Amon Amarth and, to a somewhat lesser extent, The Crown. While recurring themes are not outright avoided, this album embodies a sort of ambiguity where a clear moment of cadence or a chorus is not necessarily obvious. It is catchy and quite memorable, but the ebb and flow of melodic ideas are not rigorously conformed to a clear symmetry, though in a broader sense the usage of acoustic sections marks clear points of separation that could be viewed as a cadence of sorts.
Unlike the last album, this one is just a little bit stronger the longer the songs are, as the exploitation of acoustic parts is a bit more refined and beautiful. While keyboard usage has been scaled back a bit here, “At The Gates Of Sleep” and “Last Statement” do an excellent job of compensating with well conceived, folksy sounding acoustic interludes and a wide array of melodic motives in the guitars. Everything just comes off as a bit leaner and meaner, save Niilo’s vocal work which is deeper and husky sounding enough to rival Frank Mullen, but it still fits in with the lighter melodic content quite well. The only real complaint that can be launched against this album is that the shorter songs veer back into In Flames territory (think “Colony”) and have a slightly mechanical feel, but it’s not nearly overt enough to really detract very much from the whole package.
The expectation game is the only real enemy that Insomnium faces, and barring a complete revamp of their style, the only chance of an eventual let down would be if something goes wrong in the quality department. “Above The Weeping World” has a fairly easy time measuring up to the standards already set by the last two albums, and has done well by not getting too adventurous with the musical plot formula that has served this band well up to this point. This is the sort of melodeath that any fan of semi-extreme metal can appreciate, lacking the excesses of most of the more established brands. The only real criticism that can be launched at these guys is that they aren’t expanding the genre very much, but then again, if everyone was expanding the genre then before long no one would recognize it anymore.
Few albums have ever had me saying "I must hear that again" after listening. Insomnium proved to be one of these bands with their 2006 release of Above the Weeping World. The album starts off with a gloomy piece called The Gale and quickly sets the tone for what is to follow. The atmospheric rain in the background of the track further enhances the feeling of woe and the incoming storm of an album. And what a storm it is! Every song has been crafted so brilliantly that you can listen to the album over and over again and still have the same feelings as the first time.
The album is basically flawless. Lyrically, Insomnium has to be the most creative and thought provoking writers of any band I have ever listened to. Each track tells a story and has you questioning what the writer must have gone through to tell such tragic tales. Musically, the band has stayed true to its depressive, but brutal guitar riffs and simple, yet effective drumming. Probably my only problem with the album is the production. The guitars tend to overpower everything, even the vocals, which is a damn shame because the lyrics are so incredible. That being said, even the vocals can be hard to understand at some points.
These flaws are so little compared to the epic album that is Under the Weeping World, and to this day it remains one of my favorite albums of all time and rightly sums up everything the band released prior to this one. My favorite tracks are Mortal Share, Change of Heart, and Last Statement.
Insomnium find the bliss point between ferociousness and melody on every one of their albums. They never go too far from their established sound, yet they always manage to make every album sound different from the last. As of writing this, the band has released five full-lengths, three others of which are shy from being masterpieces for a number of reasons. Above The Weeping World, however, is the defining release in the band’s career. It’s the moment where class, professionalism, a solid production, and the most captivating compositions the band could muster find their way onto one album. The atmosphere on here is untouchable, the leads are impeccable, and there’s hardly any hint of negative feedback I can give. To me, the album’s flawless in its execution of melodic death metal. It’s such an amazing sound that I feel the band will never be able to replicate it.
The production is booming and expansive, yet not massive like a funeral doom album. The darker tone leads to a deeper atmosphere and vibe, with hints of decay and death fit for any twist on the Scandinavian melodic death / doom style. Insomnium are faster than those bands, with more emphasis on the assaulting riffs and elegant leads creating a tune that has zero melodrama and every bit of class. While no cheesiness, the album does feel larger than itself, as if it were a tragic story, although I don’t really follow it too much since the music is where the worth is held. While other bands were gussying up there music with meek melodies and clean vocals (something Insomnium would try out later) that added nothing, Insomnium kept it strictly woeful by emphasizing that their sound came from the main instruments of metal. Friman and Vänni are two that are unmatched playing harmonic, emotional leads with booming riffs. With them, each song has a dash of sophistication while remaining remarkably recognizable, stimulating, and entertaining. There are the straightforward hits like “Mortal Share” and “The Killjoy” or the longer epics like "Last Statement" and “In The Groves Of Death” that retain all of Insomnium’s characteristics and refines them.
Sevänen does primarily clear, lower growls that are at their heaviest here. Before, he was getting them down right, but he didn’t have the roar behind them, nor the gloomy atmosphere that they’d bask in. Above The Weeping World finds the perfect combination, thus creating a burlier, beastly growl that’s still within the realm of melodic death. No clean vocals are found whatsoever on this album, at all, yet the whispers that cater to the build-up or acoustic sections remain like before. None of these are out of place, and each song is written perfectly for what they’re trying to convey. Take “Drawn To Black” and its blend of tension, harmonies, blitzkrieg drumming, and powerful bass explosions that lead to a tsunami outro. It’s a song that’s certainly distinguishable from the rest, and it has enough going for it to be the best on the album. Just about all the songs on here have these qualities, and the flow from one to another is never destroyed by a misplaced song. Every song is held to such a high standard, and none of them go on longer than they should.
Above The Weeping World is a modern classic from start to finish. It never drags, and always displays quality writing in every area on the album. Momentum is never destroyed, and while this is the band’s darkest and heaviest album, there’s still tinges of optimism that’s not burdened by melodrama or overkilled by brutality. It’s as close to perfection as modern melodic death gets, and it’s the tightest the group ever got creatively. The presentation is the best for the best content it could pair up with, and the band held nothing back. Above The Weeping World is a crucial album for melodic death and melodic death / doom lovers that dig well-produced, well-written albums that knows what it wants to accomplish and does its own style better than anyone else can.
Above the Weeping World is Insomnium's 3rd album, and while not as strong as their newest album Across the Dark, this record is a strong combination of melodic death metal and soft acoustic interludes, some of which border on ambient. While not my personal favorite of theirs, ATTW is definitely a solid album.
The melodic death metal of the album hasn't changed a whole lot since the first release by the band, but this isn't a bad thing at all. There's some real killer guitar work here, especially on the first three songs. While there aren't any blazing solos or wild technical riffing going on, there is still genuine emotion in the melodies played here, which is Insomniums greatest strength. As on every other of their albums, sorrow, nostalgia anger and even a few glimmers of happiness can be found here, all of which are conveyed in real meaningful ways and avoid sound cheesy or over the top. The vocals contribute a lot to this, with deep powerful roars and growls that really add a lot of feeling to the music. Another big factor is the brilliant use of acoustic guitars, which more than anything here add feeling to the music. Whether used in intros or interludes, the soft acoustic moments are gentle and quite lovely, never out of place and something I really applaud the band for using so well. The pace is slow-to-mid with occasional fast breaks, however these are few and far between and the majority of the album is content to amble along at a mostly slow speed.
The lyrics are another strong point; Insomnium write some of my favorite lyrics of any band. Resembling poetry more than most bands lyrics (and in the 3rd song using an actual poem from Francis William Bourdillion) they are dreary and sorrowful, but like the actual music avoid being cheesy, which is something a lot of artists fail to do.
The highlights of this album for me are the first three songs, the third of which, Drawn to Black, is my favorite off the album and my favorite Insomnium song. The main riff is brilliant, the pace is perfect and the entire song simply works beautifully. There are some slower and duller moments though, particularly towards the end of the album. These are offset by some terrific acoustics though, and don't really take too much away from the album.
Overall, this is a strong effort by a fantastic band. Outstanding use of acoustics combined with mostly engaging melodic death metal make for a good combination, and Insomnium pull it off very well here.
Melodeath is full of surprises. The first song I heard from Insomnium was "Mortal Share" in a youtube video. It was really good but still, I had a stupid fear that the rest of the album was just generic Melodeath (needless to say this was the first Insomnium album I ever heard) but after hearing "Above the Weeping World" and I must say I am quite impressed.
Insomnium manages to capture a lot of the emotions that are lost in many other melodic metal bands in an atmosphere that is dark and melancholic. This is due to the GREAT lead guitar (even though there aren't many solos), the awesome acoustic breakdowns and the above average drumming. But to feel the full effect of the sheer feelings expressed in these songs, its absolutely mandatory to have the lyrics nearby when listening to this album. Sure, the vocals are pretty much nailed in Niilo Sevänen's deep Death Metal growls but, if you don't have the lyrics, its a bit hard to understand what the singer is saying and trust me, you WANT to hear what he's saying because whoever wrote these lyrics is a freakin poet. Whether its love, the human condition, nature and even death, this guy has got some serious writing skills. Despite their heavy Doom Metal influence, the production is quite clean and all the instruments have their shining moments.
There are some flaws like the acoustic sections that sometimes don't fit into the more aggressive songs and some aggressive moments that don't fit into the more mellow songs but for the most part, everthing is perfect. I highly recommend this album to any Doom or Melodic Death Metal fan and heck any Metal fan looking for original stuff to hear. You wont regret it.
The Gale, Mortal Share, Last Statement and In the Groves of Death.
Generally speaking, melodic death metal is a mix of the melodic aspects of death metal, black metal, and power metal and thrashes metal. Generally, doom doesn’t get included into the mix, possibly because it’s not up to pace with the rest of the genres, but if this album is anything to go by, it should be done far, FAR more often!
Above the Weeping World is not as doomy as say, Swallow the sun, but the tangible influences are quite apparent. They have plenty of ball crushing riffs at not so break neck speed, depressive lyrics and an incredibly melancholic mood. As I mentioned, the guitar work compliments both the general melodic death metal and doom styles. While the riffs aren’t entirely slow, they are mid paced enough to satisfy fans of both sides of the genres spectrum. The lead work on Above the Weeping World is absolutely fantastic, being both technical and emotional to astounding degrees creating a connection with the album to an incredible degree. While the guitar work more or less takes the front seat for ones attention on this album, it leaves for little attention to the drum and bass work. This may also be due to the lack of amazing presence from these aspects as well, the drumming is good but not amazing, and general beats to compliment the riffs, while the bass only adds to the heaviness of the album. The vocals on this album are normal death metal vocals, but there’s something about them that adds to the tortured, melancholic feel of the album. Although they are growls, there is plenty of emotion in them, something rarely done in most death or melo death albums. Finally, instrumentally an aspect of the album that really caught my attention was the piano pieces in the album. Now, it isn’t present on all the songs, but when it is used, it creates an amazingly emotional scape for the music, more so then the guitar work and the vocals do combined.
Now, not only is the atmosphere and mood of the album quite melancholic, but you may be surprised to find that the lyrics are also quite sad and gloomy! This aspect is also one of Insomnium’s strong points, their lyrics. Now, they do borrow lines from poets from time to time, and they do it on the song Drawn to Black, in which they use a bit from “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by English poet Francis William Bourdillon. Other than that, there are great examples of lyricism throughout the album, particularly on In the Groves of Death, The Killjoy and Change of Heart. The structure tends to be around your basic order, but a lot of the songs have an intensely emotional melodic break at some point in the song which makes the album that much stronger.
In terms of being emotional, this album trumps even some of the most renowned gothic metal bands at their own game, playing melancholic metal that doesn’t sound a kin to whinny, mallcore douchebaggery like Atreyu or Mudvayne. All in all it is personally one of my favourite albums of all time and I’m sure anyone interested in doom, gothic or Melodic death metal would be interested in checking it out.
I wasn’t sure how to classify this one but I knew there was something different when comparing it to a standard melo-death album. The sound combines melodic death metal with depressing themes. No ‘doom’ sounding music here, but it still manages to convey a similar atmosphere in comparison to what I get from listening to a melodic doom\death band.
The guitars are very melodic, adding more musical beauty to this release.
Insomnium’s guitar melodies are like Dark Tranquillity’s with a more emotional edge. I can’t recall any bass lines that stand out but it’s not something I felt was absent. As said before Above the Weeping World is very melodic and the drums and guitars seem to have separate melodies that combine into one, well formed, passage. Of course the vocals could make or break this, and I feel the vocals are excellent. Sound wise, Niilo Sevänen’s vocals remind me of instances of Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth but with a more ‘Gothenburg-esque’ approach.
Insomnium’s Above the Weeping World delivers great melodic death metal with a melancholic tinge creating a familiar atmosphere that you might get from non-melodic death bands. Even though this is not doom metal, I would still recommend it to anyone into melodic doom like Swallow the Sun, Daylight Dies etc.. I would of course encourage anyone into mid-era In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Awesome album, it proved to me that I could headband and evoke emotions at the same time with ease.
Melodic death metal is a funny genre these days. For every quality band from any given scene, there are thousands of cookie cutter bands that play the same old riffs over and over again. Since Dark Tranquillity went down a more electronic path, and In Flames have put their early days firmly behind them, the incredibly influential early Gothenburg sound has essentially burned out. Enter Insomnium.
Their first full length release, ‘In The Halls Of Awaiting’ was released in the same year that In Flames released ‘Reroute To Remain’, the album which essentially ended the Gothenburg scene as it was known. Insomnium are from Finland, but still you can tell that they’re trying to keep that flame alive, and, to a degree, they succeeded. Their aforementioned debut and it's successor ‘Since The Day It All Came Down’ were both very positively received and the band have been hailed as ‘the new In Flames’, among other things. They return now with Above The Weeping World.
As usual, the album starts quietly, with a 2 minute song in the memory of Ari Friman (presumably related to guitarist Ville Friman), an incredibly well written piece if I do say so myself. It can only get better from here and, trust me when I say this, it does.
When you’re in a melodic death metal band, you simply must have good guitarists, as the riffs and leads are what drive the music on. Guitarists Ville Friman and Ville Vänni have certainly impressed me on their past recordings. Some Insomnium tracks simply wouldn’t be Insomnium if it weren’t for them (classics like The Elder and Resonance come to mind), and they don’t disappoint on Above The Weeping World. There’s nothing dramatically different about their approach to leads (though it seems like there’s more overdubbing than before) but there’s so much more professionalism this time around. Every note sounds like it’s meant to be there, even in tracks like ‘Mortal Share’ where the leads can actually be quite fast.
The riffs never really jump out at you because they’re intended as backgrounds to either the leads or the vocals, but simply listening to their crunching rhythm tone is enough to tell you exactly how important they are to Insomnium’s sound. Despite not being at the forefront of their music, the rhythm parts Friman and Vänni play never fall into the trap where they are glossed over and left simple to spend more time working on the leads. The rhythms are very catchy and quite often make the leads and songs in general that bit more memorable (‘The Killjoy’ is a prime example of this). Acoustic guitars are also used a lot, but not in the way that you see so many bands nowadays do it, where a song will slow down and they’ll just chuck in a nice acoustic interlude, no, Insomnium will put it anywhere and it will always work perfectly. Some of the songs from ‘In The Halls Of Awaiting’ had fantastic acoustic work and I noticed that that element is not as prominent on Above The Weeping World, but they still pull it off fantastically. Listening to the album I never really noticed any ‘solos’ as such (though I suppose the lead guitar in general could add up into one massive solo), but when it’s obvious that you’re meant to be listening to the guitarists, they really step up their game. These two have the potential to surpass even the greatest guitar duos, given time.
I found Markus Hirvonen’s drumming on past albums a little bit flat. Not exactly bad, but it sounded like he could do things so much better. On this new album he’s improved a lot. He has a very nice little trick where he plays something fairly slow for a riff, then when the riff returns in the song he plays something very fast and upbeat, and while it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special, it really works. He knows what he’s doing all around, there’s some great stops, interesting fills and fantastic use of cymbals (see Change Of Heart), as well as some double bass which, while nothing revolutionary, is certainly used only in the appropriate sections. I also like the fact that he has a variety of different styles and beats which really let the rest of the band do what they like without feeling like they really have to make every song massively different (I’m looking at you, Anders Jivarp). I mean, compare the guy that played drums on ‘The Elder’ to the guy who’s now playing ‘Mortal Share’ and there’s a very big improvement. Very good performance.
Bassist, vocalist and lyricist Niilo Sevänen has always been consistent. His vocals, while nothing special, suit the sound of Insomnium perfectly. They’re rough sounding but blend in very well with the guitar tones. Unfortunately they’re quite low in the mix, which means that their compatibility with the guitars actually makes it difficult to give a full evaluation of his vocal performance, but they don’t take anything away from the music, so it’s all good there. The bass is meticulously produced, and is clearly audible through the thick guitars and drums, but sometimes I wish it didn’t, because Sevänen very rarely strays from the root notes, but he definitely does a good job in the quiet sections where there’s no real guitar to hide behind (he particularly excels on In The Groves Of Death).
The lyrics are massively influenced by poets such as Edgar Allen Poe (and the final track is based on a work by Finnish poet Eino Leino), and it shows. They seem to be themed around the symbolism of nature (yes, that old cliché), however the lyrics are written very poetically, and they’re actually very interesting to read (especially when accompanied by the fantastic artwork by Ville Kaisla and Olli-Pekka Saloniemi), even if the literal meanings of the songs aren’t immediately obvious.
Overall this is a brilliant album, incredibly professional. Polished to perfection (aside from the lack of volume in the vocals), written and performed superbly and there’s no major faults at all. The highlight songs are ‘Mortal Share’, ‘Last Statement’, ‘Change Of Heart’ and ‘In The Groves Of Death’ (which is a 10-minute closing epic, much in the vein of In The Halls Of Awaiting’s title track). One can only hope that these guys can keep on improving as they have, and truly become the masters of melodic death metal.
To this date, after listening to this album for over 2 months, I am still not sure how to review it. I keep going back and forth on thinking if it is great or if it is a disappointment. I think it is more good than disappointment however, after many, many listens.
The main gripe I have with the album is that I feel as if a lot of the atmosphere always present in previous albums is now compromised. The sound is still the very thick Insomnium sound we are accustomed to but it feels as if something is missing, making parts of the album sound dry and without substance. The riffs are there, but you can't really feel melody or much emotion. The vocals are harsh, deep, and thick, but it sounds boring combined with the riffs at times. In previous albums, I was always able to feel a lot of anger and sadness in the vocals, but at times in here, I don't. Now when I talk about not much atmosphere being present at times, I am talking about the intro, "The Gale", parts of "The Killjoy", parts of "At The Gates of Sleep". I am not going to add "Devoid of Caring" to the list because I don't think it fits into the above category, but I just don't like the song too much. The riffs are melodic, the vocals are rather good, but it just seems too much like a recycled version of something out of "In the Halls of Awaiting".
There are many great moments on this album however, which I feel outweigh the negative parts. "Mortal Share" is one of the best songs Insomnium have ever made and I just love the main riff. I never get bored of it. The vocals in this song are amazing as well as you could almost feel the desperation in Niilo's voice. This song is filled with a thick sound as well as a good atmosphere and if the rest of this album was like this song, it would have easily been the best album I've ever listened to.
"Drawn to Black" is a rather lengthy song, but I also like the main riff. It isn't too fast, but very melodic, and it seems to build up into a great but sad song. In here, the vocals are more filled with sadness than desperation or anger. The song has a lot of atmosphere and it is definitely a dark song. The chorus is also very good as it is almost a lift from the dark and very low verses.
"Change of Heart" starts off with a pleasant acoustic intro and then explodes into a tirade of depression. The main riff in this song is quite melodic and I like it because the vocals seem to go along with the melody of the riff very well. There are also a lot of background synths that provide an extra thick sound and atmosphere.
"Last Statement" is another great song. It starts off badly though, with a pretty boring, standard, and non-melodic dark riff. It slowly builds up, but it doesn't get really good until the chorus. I just love how the dark and generic riffs build up and explode into some very melodic riffs with great vocals and some good thick drumming. It is almost as if the boring intro was put in on purpose to provide this effect.
"In the Groves of Death" is the longest song on the album and starts off very well with one of the best Insomnium acoustic intros they've done so far. The song slowly builds up with more instruments coming in one by one and the song gets more melodic. It has a lot of acoustic guitar which can be boring sometimes, but not in this song. It is a slower paced and darker sounding song so the acoustic guitar fits in very well.
Overall this is a very good album. I just loved Insomnium's sound a lot in the beginning so I am a bit disappointed with some of the songs on here. But the good thing is that most of the songs still have a nice thick and rich Insomnium sound, and since I keep listening to the album after 2 months, Insomnium must have done something right. I will be very forgiving with the score because despite its faults, I can't bring myself to give this album a low score with some of the great moments that are on here.
Slowly "The Gale" works its way up into a strong and beautiful instrumental beginning this album in a way fit to restore hope a lot of people may be losing in the Melodic Death Metal genre.
The album quickly moves into a faster tempo with "Mortal Share." They fall into their very familiar 'In Flames worship' style melodically in the beginning of the verse, but the vocals are still strong and reminiscent of Amon Amath.
"Drawn In Black" is a very nice mid tempo piece. All the progressions are very smooth and welcomed, rather than trading down into something generic having you wish to rewind and enjoy the former riffs, as all too often happens. This song stays very fresh making it a very enjoyable six-minute song. At times they remind me of Eternal Tears of Sorrow in melody construction, and Dark Tranquility with acoustic and whispered vocal sections, but the strong rhythm guitar and deep vocals keep reminding you you're listening to Insomnium.
"Change of Heart" twinkles in acoustically, but unfortunately the rhythm guitar comes in and seems very similar to that found on their first album, then progressing to lead melodies again of that style which reminds us all of the old In Flames albums. The song does improve throughout though, at 2:20 progressing into a very folky but rather subtle lead melody.
"The Killjoy" seems to lack the higher melodies found in their other songs, though 4 minutes in it offers one of the best acoustic transitions on the album.
"Devoid Of Caring" is another strong song on the album where vocals seem to take a backseat to a great atmosphere focused on a very nice lead guitar, and finishes nicely, making this easily one of their best mid-tempo songs.
"In The Groves Of Death" begins very much sounding Gothic Metal but rolls into another nice Melodic Death Metal song laced with a beautiful lead. Personally I enjoy the slower tempo transitions in this song than the rest.
The crafted way this album kicks off at you'd be forgiven for imagining they were going to take their time bringing in and ending songs but it seems most of the songs on "Above The Weeping World" have an abrupt ending. However this is my main issue with the album, hardly the biggest flaw to complain about, but for artists with such progression and atmosphere you'd imagine they would wind down each song quite nicely.
My pick for best cut on the album is "Drawn In Black." For worst cut, "Last Statement," as it is rather average and seems to be a fairly American style song not really in unity with the rest of the album.
This album overall really is a bit of everything I love from (the old) In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Amon Amarth, and Eternal Tears of Sorrow. With this, their Third LP, I have no reservations about putting Insomnium in the ranks of the best Melodic Death Metal bands that have been around. The production is very strong on "Above The Weeping World" giving it a great atmosphere superior to their earlier releases. This is a very solid effort showing Insomnium are still improving, defining themselves, and are a group to keep an eye on in the future.