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For some strange reason this album was a grower. From the clean vocals to the common direction of the songs, there wasn’t any immediate click like with the first three albums. Each album up to this point had some quality to it, giving them their own identity and ethos for that particular release. By ethos I mean some influence or quality to the melodic death brand that Insomnium perpetuated, like an emphasis on an expansive, doomy atmosphere alongside poignant harmonies to Opeth-like acoustics and the resulting gloom. These qualities, centrally explored for each album, were key in defining Insomnium’s full-lengths. That isn’t much of the case here, since Insomnium’s sound was so cemented by the successes of the previous albums that they chose to remain largely unchanged. Therefore, Across The Dark is a fantastic continuation of Above The Weeping World with a more upbeat, keen personality.
While not as perfect at delivering an impactful, emotional listening experience, Across The Dark’s strengths reflect that of the prior album. There are tons of memorable sections, sorrowful leads, pummeling drumming, and fat bass work to be found. The production is essentially the same as the previous album: crispy, clear, warm, and immersive. That last quality is the key to what uplifted the band from typical melodic death. The feeling of being overwhelmed by Sevänen’s authoritative, comprehensible growling and the Friman / Vänni combination of illustrious guitar work is unmatched. I don’t feel any other melodic death band of this same caliber is able to express the same level of moving leads and equally compatible riffs.
Added to this winning formula is newly introduced clean singing which was, as previously stated, a grower. The cleans only show up in three songs and are very Amorphis-like in placement and style. I could easily hear Tomi Joutsen from Amorphis performing these lines and fitting in just as fine. The cleans are accented and mid-ranged, but most importantly they work. Sometimes they sound like they’re just there, but there’s neither an overreliance nor a simplification of the band’s formula. The band still chose to keep things heavier vocally and rhythmically. The drumming, while uncompromising, had become more collected in delivering a jaunty performance, and with the album’s positive vibe it works noticeably well.
Insomnium’s continued inspiration created something entertaining, relevant, and animated. The best example here is with the song “Down With The Sun,” and its enthralling lead harmonies, engrossing riffs, uplifting tone, and proficient transitions. It’s a perfect reflection of the album’s complete quality and purpose. Each song is distinguishable, catchy, and reflective of the band’s best traits. While it may shadow Above The Weeping World quite a bit, it’s still unique enough to be its own climactic body of work.
Insomnium is generally viewed as just another melodeath band. They've proven that idea wrong with this album! Usually, melodic death metal is plagued by "rock stars", who market their music as the most intense, brutal music for the kids to listen to. What I love about Insomnium, is that they don't do that. Every bit of darkness in this album is pure, legitimate emotion, not anything manufactured for the sake of angst-ridden kids. I think of this album more in terms of a classical masterpiece with metal instrumentation and vocals. I've listened to it from start to finish at least 10 times, whereas most albums I only pick a few songs out of to listen to often.
The overall quality of this album is great. Everything is audible, and nothing is too loud. Every instrument works together to create something amazing, unlike many albums where most instruments work together to be a background to the vocals.
This brings my first highlight, the vocals. Most people I know think they're too quiet, but I think they're just right. I don't like it when the vocals are the main part of a song. So me, vocals are there to remind you of the lyrics, which in this album, I find emotional and inspirational. The growls are great in tone, and don't drown out any of the other instruments. I also love the addition of clean vocals. They add a great deal of effect to the songs "Where the Last wave Broke", "The Harrowing Years", and "Lay of the Autumn".
My second highlight is the guitar work. The guitars on this album sound almost stereotypical of melodic death metal, but there's something more. The melodies are rich, and really promote the lyrical content. The use of clean guitars almost adds a small bit of progressiveness, making this album even better. From the opening of Equivalence to the ending of Weighed down with Sorrow, the guitars never become boring, although they also don't outshine any of the other instruments, helping the band to all work together to create one masterpiece.
Coming in on third is the bass. In most metal albums in general, the bass is completely inaudible. Considering that Insomnium's bass player is also their main vocalist, you'd think that his bass work would be simple, turned down stuff. He proves us wrong, though! Some parts that come to mind are the clean parts in Weighed down with Sorrow, and Lay of the Autumn. In the entire album, he proves to us that he is both a bass player and a singer, not just one or the other.
And last but not least, the drums. While they are amazing, and surely surpass most, they don't add as much to the sound as the other instruments. But, even though they aren't unique, this is a melodeath album, not a prog album. They are played perfectly, and don't go too far.
In conclusion, this is a brilliant album. From start to finish, it never bores, and gives off a great deal of emotion. I highly recommend it to any fan of melodic death metal! It's well worth your time and money!
When the name INSOMNIUM comes up I’m repeatedly reminded of the opinions of a number of metal folk who hold these guys in the most resolute of esteems, and more often than not it comes back to their damn-near-genius-grade melodic death metal leans with that decidedly Finnish touch. But unfortunately, all that was INSOMNIUM came up short on the attention meter as time progressed, despite their existential consistency. Still, I knew these guys would have any kind of tenacity to survive post-ignoring…however, in my eyes they did their craft well, but not great enough to warrant my cascading to my local music shop like a horny nerd to a cardboard cutout of Catwoman to procure their later works.
Nevertheless, I’d been curious to know what could come about as the years piled atop one another, and with this album in hand, that curiosity would hopefully bring about the most fruitful of fruits…
Upon first listen, this listener is able to ascertain a necessary evolution in their approach, although such an evolution is, dare I say, a bit predictable. Moving from a heavy yet melodic sound to a dark, gloomy progressive sound isn’t unheard of (OPETH? KATATONIA? ANATHEMA?), and in the end it’s all in how one utilizes it to beneficent ends. That may seem to be the case with INSOMNIUM, as near as I can tell theirs has always been the darker and more depressive end of things wherein such a progression could only serve for the better. I guess if anything of the like can be said it’s that things are more mature this time around in terms of the songwriting and performance, where the doom and gloom has aged better than one could have originally thought it to. It’s also more thought-provoking and catchy; still holding to their older melodic death roots by way of the harmonic leads, fast and heavy riffs and bitterly acidic growling vocals, the prog ends of things are more showcased by way of the acoustic interludes, synthetics, chord arrangements and generally less-than-deathly atmosphere. The latter helps make this new batch of compositions a tasty and addictive fare that totally envelops the listener, getting rid of that unnecessary reality outside the headphones. Indeed, a dire and desperate musical tapestry is evoked in the name of doing as such, dismal in its own right, which is broken time and again by the rather unbecoming death growls that don’t really seem to fit the scheme of thing as easily as I’m sure the band would’ve hoped at times. For the most part it works, but other times it’s a bit too heavy to take in given the musical direction of things, but this is thankfully undercut by the more befitting clean vocals that sputter about here and there. All this comes together best as showcased by the likes of “Where the Last Wave Broke”, “Against the Stream” and “Into the Woods”, grabbing the attentive ears of both extremist fans and casual listeners alike, demanding your attention. With good cause.
In the end INSOMNIUM’s latest contains a lot of great ideas in only eight songs, where things go from darkly expressive to intensely suffocating. One could chalk this up to being the sleeper hit of 2010.
For any band, whether metal or not, it is difficult to continually put forth albums that are all high quality. Some bands have a strong start, and then fall into mediocrity and, in my eyes, are not able to live up to what they were in their beginning. Some bands have decent albums, but then have that one album which is of exceptional quality. Insomnium is one of those bands that has set the bar high since the beginning of their career and then continues to reach or exceed that bar with each album they put forth. Across the Dark is Insomnium’s fourth full length album and it does not fail to disappoint.
One thing that has always attracted me to Insomnium’s work is the atmosphere that is contained within their albums. It’s hard to fully describe Insomnium’s atmosphere, at most times, it is sad and depressing. The perfect example of this is the closer to Across the Dark, “Weighed Down With Sorrow”. The beginning of the track begins with close to a minute of slowly played violins. This leads into an absolutely crushing riff, which helps create a feeling of despair. Tied in with the lyrics of the song and their masterful delivery, the song can be quite depressing. Then there are songs like “Down With the Sun”, which produces an atmosphere that puts the listener in a peaceful, dreamlike state. This atmosphere is created during the chorus of the song, where there is a pretty fast riff playing while front man Niilo Sevänen whispers the lyrics in the chorus. He then switches to his harsh growls, repeating what he has whispered. However this time, the riff becomes much more prominent, and there are keyboards in the background.
The musicianship present on Across the Dark is fantastic. It seems that the members of the band have really learned to compose songs and riffs to help songs become entertaining and help move the song forward. Many riffs on the album are quite catchy and pretty fast. Added to this, they are well played. The beginning of “Against the Stream” and “Into the Woods” displays this quite well. For the more emotional tracks, the music moves at a slower pace, yet the riffs can be quite beautiful. The acoustic sections of the album are very well played, and just like other aspects of the album, they add to the sheer emotion present in the songs. The drums on Across the Dark are good as well. They are not overly complex, but they add to each of the songs. This is great because the drums do not clash with the rest of the instruments and this helps the listener become aware of the song as a whole and not just a specific element of a song such as the vocals or the guitars. As with many melodeath albums, keyboards are present on Across the Dark. In Across the Dark, the keyboards serve the purpose of adding to the atmosphere present in the album. They add emotion, without becoming overbearing to the listener, something that plagues many bands. Another thing that is important to address when talking about Across the Dark, or other Insomnium albums, is that there are some elements of doom throughout the album. These elements are masterfully placed in the album, and they help Insomnium stand out from other melodeath bands.
The vocals on the album that are done by Niilo are just as good as the musicianship that is present. Niilo’s growls are superb; they can be very forceful at times, helping songs progress. The whispered sections add emotion and atmosphere, and the transition between the whispered vocals and the harsh vocal really adds to the appeal of Across the Dark. This can be heard in the song “Down With the Sun”, which I have already mentioned. The transition between the two types of Niilo’s vocals helps makes “Down With the Sun” one of the strongest songs on the album. They are done expertly throughout the song with flawless transitions.
When I heard that Insomnium was coming out with their fourth full length album, I can honestly say I was worried with how it would turn out. This worry I had about Across the Dark stemmed from the fact that the band decided to add clean vocals to this album. The first three albums released by Insomnium had no clean vocals, and I was worried that these vocals would somehow change the structure of Insomnium’s songs or make some other aspect of the band become less important. There are many melodeath bands that have albums where many songs are filled with clean vocals. Though this may not be bad, I wanted Insomnium to stay with the structure they had on their previous albums since they all turned out to be solid albums. Surprisingly enough, I am pleased with how these vocals turned out. The clean vocals are provided by Jules Näveri, from bands such as Profane Omen and Enemy of the Sun. They are well executed and are not actually present on much of the album. When they are present, they help add to the emotion of songs. Also, the clean vocals are sometimes mixed with Niilo’s growls, which can create quite a unique sound.
From start to finish, Across the Dark is a superb album that is filled with emotion and atmosphere. It is a worthy addition to Insomnium’s already stellar discography. With each album they release, Insomnium continues to please, and any fan of melodeath should look into buying Across the Dark. In addition, if you are debating whether or not to buy the special addition of Across the Dark, I would suggest that you buy it. It comes with an extra two songs that are superb. The first bonus song is “The New Beginning”, which starts out with rough production, but then breaks into a track with cleaner production that will please any Insomnium fan. The second song is “Into the Evernight”, which was recorded during the band’s second album. Both songs are a nice addition to Across the Dark, and together they add about thirteen minutes of music to Across the Dark. If you decide to forgo the special addition, Across the Dark is still a necessary addition to the collection of any melodeath fan.
Insomnium are one of maybe 3 or 4 melodic death metal bands I can listen to without being annoyed after 5 minutes. I've never really thought At the Gates, In Flames or Arch Enemy were that good, to be honest, I've never thought they were anything more than annoying, lame and boring. Irritating high-pitched screeches, lame riffs and just an overall boring feel was something that plagued these bands, but fortunately Insomnium suffers from none of these.
The previous album, Above the Weeping World, was a good blend of dreary acoustics and good solid melodic death metal; however, the death metal was never more than solid (with one or two exceptions) but I LOVED the acoustic sections. Here, on Across the Dark, its reversed. The acoustics take a back seat to some of the best melodic riffs the band have ever written (and I'd say some of the best in the melo-death scene) and while the acoustic sections aren't bad, they aren't really up to par with ATWW nor are they as numerous or as long lasting. As I said before, the melo-death has really been amped up, with some awesome melodic riffs, leads and melodies, and in some cases, soaring keyboards and clean vocals. Both of those are new ground for the band, and while the vocals aren't exactly awe-inspiring, they fit reasonably well and generally compliment the melody of the song at hand.
The extreme vocals are even better than they were on previous albums; deep, powerful, angry, desperate, sorrowful and perfectly executed. Insomniums vocals are second to none in the scene and have just such a force and power behind them that puts the shriekers and screamers that inhabit melodic death metal to shame.
Guitars are handled perfectly; melodic and heavy with some terrific leads and riffs. The production lends a good thick sound to both the guitars and drums, which gives it a powerful and hard hitting feel. Drums are well-played; there's not a lot amazing or jaw-dropping technical feats, but they're played with a fantastic tightness and accuracy.
The lyrics are as well-written as ever, and convey genuine sorrow and emotion without being cliche or cheesy or over the top. I wish they'd delved more into poetry as they did with Drawn To Black from ATTW though; I was slightly disappointed in that. Other than that small gripe though, lyrics are top-notch.
The overall feeling of this album is sadness, nostalgia and dreariness, but every once in a while a ray of sunlight with creep through, however brief. Moments of brutality are woven together with moments of delicate acoustic guitar and piano that make for a truly enjoyable listen; I highly recommend this album to anyone even remotely into heavy music.
As much as Insomnium's 2002 debut In the Halls of Awaiting blew me away, I never was quite as smitten by either of the followups. This 4th album Across the Dark is the best material I've heard from the band in years, 45 minutes and 8 tracks of highly melodic death metal which follows in all the best tradition of Finn bands like Amorphis, Kalmah, and Noumena (and quite a similarity to the past few Dark Tranquillity albums).
All of these tracks have hooks, BIG hooks, and it takes very little time for them to ensnare you. "Equivalence" provides a gentle and welcoming build-up, first with its acoustics and then the flowing leads. "Down With the Sun" is like crawling forth from a cave to suddenly be faced with the song's namesake for the first time in many dark years. The riffing is circular and glorious, each progression of notes painstakingly selected to maximize the song's emotional power. Niilo's vocals are huge growls that work wonders here (reminding me at times of Absence, Elegy, Amok and other great Finnish melodeath records). "Where the Last Wave Broke" builds a nice, choppy progressive riff beneath more of the band's killer melodic lines. "The Harrowing Years" and "The Lay of Autumn" are excellent, slower pieces that roil with power. There are no tracks here that will fail to please you, even after multiple listens.
Across the Dark sounds stunning, with a dense and heavy mix that does not betray the band's penchant for sad and powerful lead lines. The vocals mix in quite well with the sad patterns of the chords, evoking both mystique and anger. This album is both a crowning moment for Insomnium and a tribute to its forebears. I'd have to say it is on par with their excellent debut, though not a surprise. The album shines from fore to aft, and has rekindled my faith in this band. As far as melodic death in 2009, this is the one to beat.
Across The Dark" deserves some justice. I've read about the bad use of clean vocals, I've read about how the music is influenced by a thousand other bands, I've read about its technical semplicity... I believe that the problem a lot of people have with this album is how it sounds different from the previous efforts. I mean you can still see the old great Insomnium behind the music but Across The Dark definitely represents a step into a different direction. Insomnium have always been doomy or, at least, some of their old songs were. Now imagine these guys with a foot into the classic melodic death (the one we all know from the previous albums) and the other foot into doom metal. That's the way Insomnium go with this album. I wouldn't even say they are "influenced" by doom metal, because this album is a perfect balance of the two genres, a balance you can hardly find elsewhere.
What makes Across the Dark a special album are the atmospheres. Every song is a further step in the travel within its world. You can imagine forests, rivers, mountains, autumns, winters, you can imagine whatever you want but if you like the music you'll find yourself totally dragged into the music. That's something really special. It's hard to explain it because it's just a matter of feelings.
Guitars, both electric and acoustic, are the soul of the album: they introduce the atmosphere with some slow, well placed melodies and then make the song fly. There's nothing too technical: the musical sections are quite simple and usually repeat themselves more than once without being tedious. Every single song has an unforgettable melody capable of trasmitting a lot of emotions. The keyboards back the guitars work and have some spots in the album where they become the centre of the music.
In the comparison with the previous albums, Across the Dark pulls the handbrake. This is something inevitable, the price the album had to pay to sound so intense. The drums are deprived of the common pace: not a single song in the album is "fast" or needs it for that matter. The double bass, which used to be great, is very simple here. It may be a shame for someone, since fast double bass is one of the basic elements in a lot of great bands, but this album really don't need it.
Probably, the most controversial element of Across the Dark are the clean vocals. Just to make it clear: I like clean vocals as much as I like growls or screams and I think that every of these styles can fit almost every metal genre without spoiling it. Insomnium decided to introduce clean vocals for the first time and it was unavoidable that someone would have disliked them. If you don't dispute clean vocals just for the sake of it, and if you enjoyed the album "before" they kick in on the third song, then I'm pretty sure you'll like them. They're not too high and are not overused (now THAT would have spoiled the music): in my opinion, they balance pretty well the good job Sevänen does behind the mic with his growls. Also, I don't mind for autotune if it doesn't sound ridicolous for being exaggerated.
Insomnium is an incomparable band with its own musical style. You may find some similarities with a few other bands but that's only the result of playing the same genre in the same world area. Honestly, I can count the albums with the intensity of this one on my fingers and, at this time, it's probably one of the best in this way. I liked it as much as I liked the early works, maybe more. What I can say for sure is that it sounds different and it's definitely good for a band to succeed in different paths. Buy this album and enjoy its emotional complexity behind its sober style.
Three years after their last effort, Above the Weeping World, Insomnium hit the shelves again with Across the Dark. I must say I approached this album with a lot of scepticism, because I seem to be the only person on the planet who finds ATWW to be a complete borefest, and given the facts that before releasing the CD, the band claimed that they will be 'experimenting' a lot, mainly with clean vocals, and the cover artwork that somehow reminded me of Viva Emptiness a little bit [i]too[/i] much, I feared that this fine band might try to pull a Katatonia on us. The result? Completely different. And thank God for that.
The Finns didn't pull a Katatonia, but I must say that they did however pull an Agalloch to a certain degree. There are a lot of doom influences present in the music, from a 'wailing', high guitar tone to a general somber atmosphere, and an 'Agallochian' impression of late autumn or early winter in the compositions - the twin guitar harmonies do wonders here, with one mainly using simple, yet very fitting, high and slow scales, and the other one providing background. It is also very commendable that Insomnium manage to achieve such a great atmosphere with barely any use of keyboards (they're employed by the guest-appearing keyboardist of Swallow the Sun, Aleksi Munter) - they're 'there', but you don't really notice them at any time, which I find great, because extensive keyboard wankery is the cancer killing modern metal. Acoustic guitars also make a few appearences, like at the start of Equivalence.
The pace is mostly kept at slow to medium, with very atmospheric tracks like the opening Equivalence, The Lay Of Autumn or the closing Weighed Down With Sorrow. There are also faster tracks, but don't expect any rockers the size of, for example, Medeia. The fast tracks are mostly Against the Stream and Into the Woods, but they're also the worst tracks on the LP. They barely have any atmosphere, they're pure 'disco' and chock-full of chugging riffs, that probably would be a huge hit in moshpits, but in the end, they're irritating and primitive, although Into the Woods picks up a bit in the middle with a cool melody, yet it doesn't last till the end of the song. Come on guys, you can do better than that!
Moving on to the 'great innovation' on the CD - the clean vocals. They're a tricky matter to say the least, because they would be perfectly fine if they were delivered by someone else. I'm almost 100% positive, that they were aiming for clean vocals similar to that of Vintersorg, and it would be just ideal to hire him to do the guest cleans, or heck, if they didn't want to look outside of Finland, I think even Ville Laihiala from Sentenced would be a better alternative than performing here Jules Näveri from Profane Omen/Enemy of the Sun. Allow me to illustrate my point on the example of the song Where the Last Wave Broke - everything about the clean vocals there is great, except the vocalist. They're well-placed in the chorus, and make an interesting overall mix with them in the foreground, and Sevänen's growls in the background, their melody also is rather good. But unfortunately, Näveri fails to deliver them properly, and they turn out to be cringe-worthy at first listen, but after a few more spins, you start to appreciate their 'essence', yet they are still irritating due to Jules' wailing which sounds, well, faggy. He also appears in The Harrowing Years, where he tries to make 'doomy', 'faux-emotionless' vocals slightly similar to most newer doom bands, and in The Lay of Autumn where he 'just' sings, but in these two songs, there are no outside factors to take his performance up. I wouldn't really want to see the cleans completely removed, because as I said, they show a lot of promise, and their current amount is almost perfect - no more, no less, please - but Great Scot, get another vocalist, alright?
Let's drop the matter of cleans though, and say something about the growls - they got better. Sevänen was already one of my favourite growlers, since his vocals are not only in a low tone, but also comprehensible, and they're regular motherfucking growls, and not some half-assed screams. In Across the Dark, they are deeper and more 'ominous' than in Insomnium's previous releases, and they flow great with the doomy music.
And of course, what kind of an Insomnium album would this be without a splendid closer? Even ATWW had 'In The Groves of Death' which was not bad at all. Here it's Weighed Down With Sorrow - it starts with grim, violin-like sounds, and after that hits you in the face with a downright epic riff and melody, only to calm down in the middle to lull you with acoustic guitars and explode again with the full splendor of classic Insomnium sound and end with a 'cliffhanger', where the pace starts slowing down as the finish draws near, and it achieves climax with a single, powerful 'bang!'.
Final score? 80/100, because it's a really damn solid record, plus, it positively surprised me, since it vastly exceeded my (rather moderate) expectations, but in the end, there are flaws that cannot be ignored, and it's nothing exactly groundbreaking, even though Insomnium themselves are fairly original, and they manage to stand out in the Finnish metal scene that is either full of retarded Children of Bodom clones or bands that forget how to play all their instruments except for the keyboards. Across the Dark may not be exactly another In the Halls of Awaiting, but who gives a fuck anyway, since it's good as it is?
This album is a must have for any Insomnium or melodic death metal fan. Insomnium continues to impress and haven't lost anything since their previous albums, which are amazing I might add. There is a noticeable change in how they are writing the music though, for better or for worse, but in my opinion for the better. They have dove a little bit deeper into the atmospheric sound, as well as focusing a bit more on the melancholic, haunting riffs of the guitars. The end result is a, dare I say it, a master-piece of an album.
Equivalence starts out with your classic Insomnium accoustic guitar and as seeming like an intro until Niilo comes in with his growl for about the last 45 seconds of the song. A good opener for the album and sets the mood for the next song.
Down with the Sun is possibly my favorite song off of this album. Everything flows well and the guitars give me the chills every time I listen to it. Definitely a head banging song, although their music video I wasn't very impressed with.
Where the Last Wave Broke is a little faster but still as dynamic as you would expect any Insomnium song to be, and the first taste of the clean singing that they introduced in this album. The clean vocals compliment the song and Niilo well and I have a feeling that they will continue to use the clean vocals in later albums as well.
The Harrowing Years is probably my least favorite song off of this album, but it is still a completely decent song, just seems to me to be more of the same, if you listen to this album I think you will understand what I mean. Nothing spectacular on guitar, mildy boring interludes, chorus saves it.
Against the Stream is definately one of the best songs on this album. From the intro it gets your attention and the riffs don't get any blander or any more boring from there either. The interlude has some interesting keyboard parts in it, and then back into a riff that just makes you want to cry it's so beautiful. Markus does some excellent drum work on this song.
The Lay of Autumn is the longest song on the album at just over nine minutes, and it keeps you into it the whole time. The guitars are typical, beautiful, emotional, melancholic... everything you would want an Insomnium riff to be. Again more with the clean singing, which is extremely catchy, along with every part of the song, and it makes you wonder where the nine minutes went.
Into the Woods is an amazing song as well, the riffs and the breaks work perfectly together, and the keyboard adds just the right touch to create an awesome atmosphere.
Weighted Down with Sorrow starts off with almost a minute of instrumental, which just builds up for the rest of the song. The guitars sound just like the title of the song, and it's the last one on the album, which leaves you wanting more.
The only reason I didn't give this 100 is because it's not perfect, but about as perfect as you can get. This band just gives me the chills, the perfect blend between melancholy and anger, its just beautiful.