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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.