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I tried so hard to like this album, but every time I listen to it I just want to stop and not have to deal with it. Across the Dark was a great introduction to Insomnium, a slow, heavy, and rather simple album that gets the message across quite nicely. But One for Sorrow is a turn for the worse for the band, losing many of the aspects that made their previous release great and not adding anything new to the mix.
The biggest upset is the flat and dull sound that seems to prevail throughout the majority of the tracks. A lot of them are simply a few uninteresting and incoherent combinations of overly simple chord progressions mashed together with a blast beat. The end result is a very unrefined sound that doesn't offer much in terms of purpose and has absolutely no flow for much of it. It neither shows anything in terms of musical ability or song writing from the band as there is simply nothing that really drives the music forward.
The production isn't particularly brilliant either, partly as a result of the poor songwriting. There is little if any bass present in the songs, and as a because of the dominance of the repetitive drum and rhythm guitar lines everything sounds dull and washed out.
In the order presented the only songs of merit are Inertia and Through the Shadows, the first track being a brilliant opener which transitions seamlessly into the intro of the second, sadly it only serves a prelude to the bland songs that follow it. Hidden among the crap is Decoherence, a jewel of an instrumental that could have slotted so perfectly into a good album but is completely lost and out of place between its fellow songs.
Overall the album still suffers from the weak composition displayed in Across the Dark, and takes a turn for the worse in pretty much all other fronts, being a messy hodgepodge of blast beats and flat sounding guitar lines. It also did away with Sevänen's simple, yet effective bass lines which were one of the strongest elements of the previous release. The result is bland and uninteresting; far from what Finnish melodeath is capable of bringing to the table
Insomnium, the Finnish melodic death/ doom metallers have once again did it; after two years since the release of their masterpiece "Across the Dark", they have once again proved their immense creativity and, fortunately, their musical maturity; "One for Sorrow" should be proclaimed the most sorrowful and crestfallen album in melodic death' s history. Its crushing riffs, incredibly sad (yet intricate) leads and poetical lyrics make it Insomnium's Opus Magna, of course, until the next album, which I am very sure is waited by lots and lots of Insomniacs.
"One for Sorrow" is an almost perfect album, from the start to the very end. It is a journey through the band's gloomy Universe, through their labyrinthine ideology on life, death and what is beyond it; for instance, take the song "Through the Shadows" (which is definitely one of their best songs they've written); in "Through the Shadows" the feeling of sorrow is do damn vivid, that is very likely to make you cry, and this feeling is feeded and kept alive all its almost five minutes, but somehow, they are somehow more optimistic than before; now, suffering is there to prove that there is a light, indeed, at the end of the tunnel. Musically speaking, the song is a masterpiece: heavy rhythm guitar riffs (as it was expected from the animal that is Ville Vänni), which build up very nicely in the chaos of the infernal lead guitar and the thundering wall of drums. I think this song is quite like the epitome of what Insomnium was supposed to sound from the start: gloomy, yet optimistic and rageful.
"Song of the Blackest Bird" and its kindred suffering-infested songs "Regain the Fire" and "Lay the Ghost to rest", are veritable pieces of the doomish influence that slowly takes the role of somewhat like a Father-Figure in the band's songwriting process; Insomnium impressed me through their music, and they impressed me even more through their lyrics: I think that no one will throw rocks and mud at me if I say that there are some Finnish metal bands that have pathetic English lyrics, because it is true, but this is not the case with Insomnium. At least not entirely, because there are a few mistakes in their lyrics too. Insomnium's lyrics are to be appreciated, because they are beautifully written and they sure do make some sense to those who reads them. One great example in this respect are the lyrics of one of my personal favorites of the album, namely "Song of the Blackest Bird"; Insomnium are talking about Death's bird, supposedly a raven and the malicious effects of its flight above the world.
Once again, Niilo Sevanen delivers his gutural growls all over the songs, and he does it very well. There is emphasis on the lyrics that are needed to be emphasized, there is whispering and talking where the lyrics have something more meaningful to express; with other words, his performance is almost pristine. At a moment, I feared that the clean vocals that they started to employ somewhere around "Across the Dark" will take over and turn Insomnium to, what I thought back then, basically another shitty melodic death/ doom metal band. For that, I deserve to burn in hell. There are certain passages with clean voice, indeed, on the album, but they fit perfectly the overall mood of the album and are employed precisely when they should; Ville Friman is not just a bestial guitar player, but a very good singer, too. He has quite a range in his voice and it seems that his voice was worked upon especially for and just for Insomnium; his voice is highlighted on songs like "Through the Shadows" and "One for Sorrow". So far, so good.
Insomnium has proved itself to be one of the greatest Finnish metal bands ever, and "One for Sorrow" is definitely, without a doubt a new turn in their style, but hopefully, this turn will turn out to be of good nature. I am not going to say this is a must-have album in your private collection if you are a fan, because I am myself a great Insomnium fan and I do not have it. Romania is a shitty country, son. And expensive. I did not give the maximum mark to this album, because of the simple fact that its quality is, I don't know...somehow, fuzzy; there is a certain buzz on it I can't put my finger on. Now, we have to wait for their next album; hopefully, they will work at it after they finish the tour with Children of Bodom, as special guests. Long life, Insomnium!
This album was the hardest Insomnium release to get into. Nothing seemed to click as fast as the last album, and especially not as much as the first three albums. It’s a peculiar release that continues Insomnium’s heavy use of poignant harmonies, enthralling atmosphere, captivating movements, and a melodic death periphery to implement some of the genre’s best work. Thick riffs, sorrowful leads, the pummeling drums, and Sevänen’s low, coherent growls are the core makeup of each song. There isn’t much more to it than that, aside from lots of key support strictly for the tone and an increased use of clean vocals. It’s another Insomnium album, but with less of a lasting impact.
That guitar tone isn't as vigorous as before. It sounds washed out, like it blends into its own restricted, flat tone. It's heavy, but there's no supreme, fat punch like on the last album or that warm, brutish tone like on Above The Weeping World. Those albums had very whole, firm tones while this one feels pasted to the music. It's probably the hardest pitfall to get passed in order to get into this album, as this drawback brought down a critical component to the band's sound. It just isn't as convincing as it tries to emulate the band's aggressive nature, even though the leads are still as ambitious, harmonious, and fervent. You can hear it in songs like "Every Hour Wounds" playing distinct, corpulent riffs, but without any of the bite that made it inclusive and durable.
The newest twist is Ville Friman handling clean vocals which, despite him being one of my favorite guitarists, aren't the greatest at making an impression. They sound timid compared to the ones on Across The Dark. They're humble, cheerless, and mid-ranged, but they limit the potential for the songs they're on. For instance, the title track is a gloomy song written as a build-up, graced by elegant harmonies, and topped off with a mighty climax. The clean here are pleasing, but they don't have any influential sway - the guitar leads play the same melody as the cleans, so they're the ones entertaining the most.
While these do detract from One For Sorrow's replayability, the rest of the album is still Insomnium doing what they know how to do (just at a lesser level). It's got the scope, atmosphere (keys mostly doing the backing), and overall style of the later albums, but with the quality of the debut. Drums are pummeling and encircling, with the bass begrudgingly following under the thinning guitars. Again, the same kind of easy listening melodic death metal, but written and played compellingly. Speaking of which, the biggest ode to the tighter, inspired playing from before is with the bonus track "Weather The Storm". The leads on this one are tasteful and the riffs are burlier than most of the album. The one complaint is Mikael Stanne's (muffled) vocal performance is underutilized and sounds too alike to Sevänen's amiable, fluent growling.
Insomnium chose to run through the motions while spicing up their formula a little. It isn't their best output, but even a less than stellar Insomnium album is a great body of work. Overall, One For Sorrow lacks a defining uniqueness and gets hit hard by the stifled guitars, but it's still enjoyable. Expect it to maintain the band's status quo while it may even come out sounding better than that.
As with their previous works, Insomnium continue to display a consistency here that is all too lacking in many of their contemporaries within the melodic death metal scene. ‘One for Sorrow’ contains nothing that might elevate the band into the more ‘mainstream’ niche of melodeath (if it can be called an elevation); there are no lightning fast guitar solos or gimmicky lyrics here. Instead the band seeks to emphasise upon the emotional nature of their music, the sweeping melodies present here wash upon the listener with the power of roaring waves, transforming now and then into fragile acoustics, creating a feeling of melancholy beauty.
There is something here for everyone (bar those looking for intoxication by means of technical guitar riffs or solos); the band has managed to intermingle faster riffs with softer clean guitar sections, maintaining smooth transitions between the two, while the melodies sweep through with a cohesiveness that bears testament to the songwriting talent of Insomnium. The drums and the bass remain solid and perform their job well, though it is my belief that the strength of Insomnium lies in their affinity for melody. The wall of sound created by the guitars, as well as the keyboards which provide much of the atmosphere present within the album, provide an interesting listening, as there are many individual elements that can be missed in a first or even second listening. The band employs three forms of vocals: the deep growls that permeate much of the album combine well with the clean vocals that they seem to be using more of nowadays, as well as the use of often whispered spoken words. Though the clean vocals here are nothing special when compared to some metal bands that rely more heavily on them, they meld in well with the music, providing a sense of beauty as well as sadness.
The song ‘Lay the Ghost to Rest’ contains all of the above elements and as such provides a good introduction to those unfamiliar with the band; the hauntingly beautiful melodies are coupled with delicate clean sections, while the vocals weave in and out, culminating in a clean vocal section reminiscent of one present in Opeth’s ‘Godhead’s Lament’. I was also struck by the uplifting tapped guitar melodies in ‘Through the Shadows’ in combination with its powerful chorus, while the range of tempos showcased in the longer ‘Song of the Blackest Bird’ prove that Insomnium are anything but formulaic. The peaceful Eden that is the instrumental ‘Decoherence’ will provide relief to even the most afflicted insomniac, while the more heavier headbang inducing riffs of ‘Unsung’ will surely render the song a staple of their live performances. The lyrics are in keeping with the band’s consistency, poetic in their melancholy, while remaining firmly outside the realm of exaggerated mournfulness. The sound is enhanced by production worthy of their talent, though I found the vocals were occasionally drowned by the wall of guitars and keyboards.
I was interested to hear the band’s approach to songwriting mentioned in one of their interviews. The process seems to be cyclic: the riffs and melodies are arranged into songs, the mediocre ones removed and the process is repeated until the band is satisfied with the final result. Perhaps this is the secret to their durability; their ability to maintain the standard set right throughout their albums prove that Insomnium are the epitome of consistency. I would however like to see the band expand more upon their music in the future, which I believe they are more than capable of achieving. A fall into stagnancy as a consequence of their own consistency will surely be the result if not.
Since the release of their first full length album, In the Halls of Awaiting, Insomnium were considered one of the best names in melodic death metal. But since the release of Above The Weeping World, they've pretty much dominated the genre, and for damn good reason. They seem to be one of the few bands who actually focus on the word "MELODIC" in the melodic death metal, especially in this album.
Their riffs in songs like Through the Shadows, Regain the Fire, Unsung and Song of the Blackest Bird are simply exemplary. Their lyrics continue to prove that poetry is not a dead art in the modern world, and their vocal variation delivers their art flawlessly. Each song seems to have it's own element that forbids you from even looking at the "skip" button. In under an hour, One for Sorrow tells more tales and is more entertaining than some of the best films released in all of time.
"Inertia", in under 4 minutes, achieves something 20 minutes of Opeth's "Black Rose Immortal" couldn't; a spiritual journey to Zen and back. Each line in the lyrics feels like the Gods whispering in your ear. The gentle build-up of the song is exactly what one needs to prepare them for the upcoming brilliance of the album. Then, "Through the Shadows" and "Regain the Fire", both not bothering with a crescendo, getting right to the point, send warm chills all up and down your spine. The chorus in both the songs, a beautiful blend of clean and harsh vocals, with adventurous drumming and guitars in the background. The ending of the songs make you wish it didn't have to end, and then make you smile as you replay the song and the journey begins all over again.
The instrumental song in the album, "Decoherence" is the deep breath you take as you surface from the dive in the crystal crisp waters of true melo-death. A short slow relief to calm you from the overwhelming power of Insomnium, clearing your head, also serving as a gentle reminder of the Angels who'd just held a personal concert in your mind. And then, 3 minutes later, you dive right back into the waters and realise the potential human beings have, if they just submit to using all their efforts, to actually create something that they themselves would also enjoy.
The last song on the album, "One for Sorrow" is their little cherry on top of the cake. The gentle intro, absolutely perfect to set the mood and theme of the song, the lead guitars acting as the musical equivalent of the lyrics, creating the very soul of the song. This song is proof enough that to create a depressing environment, you don't need low pitch acoustic guitars and somebody sitting and singing in a deep voice.
A gentle start to the album, a killer body, and a perfect ending; "One For Sorrow" is the blueprint to create a fantastic album that connects with you spiritually and physically. The lyrics, poetic. The music, harmonic. The vocals, angelic. The result of natural talent, something this band seems to have an excess of, and pure effort, something Insomnium are clearly bothered to put in. Simply a wonderful album, recommended for anybody and everybody. This is one album you need to listen to before you die.
Insomnium is pretty much "the" melodic death metal band these days, and for good reason. Ever since their 2002 debut, they've been churning out record after record of prime material. For those not in the know (which you should be, because these guys are like one of the most popular melodeath bands now, aren't they?), Insomnium is known for their brand of melancholic, mournful melodic death metal which they've been doing since 2004's Since the Day It All Came Down - their debut, In the Halls of Awaiting, was more in the style of old In Flames + Amorphis than what they're doing now. Something about the way they form their riffs produce a certain sorrowful quality that I've seen labeled as the "crying guitar" - and really, it's a fitting label. Few bands really evoke emotion with me the way they intend to, but Insomnium is definitely one of them. Tracks from their prior albums such as "Weighed Down with Sorrow" rank as some of the most emotively somber music I've ever heard. This newest album of theirs, One for Sorrow, is effectively the same thing.
While these guys really do not have a mediocre record at all, I believe that their 2006 album Above the Weeping World, which happens to be one of my favorite albums from the 2000s, is the epitome of their sound hitherto this point. While all of their albums since Since the Day It All Came Down are really doing the same thing, Above the Weeping World did it the best. The mournful melodies climaxed perfectly in this album and created some of the most fantastic melodeath of the last decade. Since then, their albums have been going in a downward slope, however. Across the Dark was worse than it's predecessor, and so is One for Sorrow worse than its predecessor.
This is not inherently the problem with this album though. This album offers solid tracks all throughout. From the opening acoustic "Inertia" to the heartbreaking finally title track, the album never loses its appeal. There are obvious high points - "One for Sorrow" is full of sorrowful melody that makes my heart weep, and "Lay the Ghost to Rest" has great progression, beautifully somber riffing, and a bone-chilling climax. Likewise, there are obvious lowpoints - opener "Inertia" is a far cry from the memorable beauties that opened their previous three albums (and some of the best introduction songs ever), and "Regain the Fire" just sounds to me like what an Insomnium cover band would be doing... You know, the Insomnium sound, but generically. Everything here though is good. I think one big problem that arose here with me though is that while everything is good, it's the same stuff they've been doing for four records now, and of slightly worse quality at that.
But, again, this is not the problem with the record. The problem with the record is that... it's the same stuff they've been doing for four records now. At what point does their sound become tiring and droll? At what point do they fade into obscurity of the bands that have essentially re-released the same record half a dozen times? Insomnium's sound is fantastic, but it's not changing much between records. They've spiced this album up a bit by including more use of clean vocals, but that created another problem with me: the clean vocals (which do sound quite nice) often times make the songs they appear in sound happy... and that is not an adjective one should want to see describing an Insomnium song. But I digress; despite the clean vocals (which are still used sparingly, by the way), the instruments - which are still top notch - are doing the same thing they've been doing for four albums now. As long as they keep doing their sound well, really, I can't complain. There's going to come a point though where it sounds like they're recycling all of their old material, and I can already hear that just slightly here.
Make no mistakes though - I'm giving this record an 80% justifiably. It's still good, quality music, and when looking back on what was released in 2011, it's definitely an honorable mention. I'm just worried they're going to lose their appeal if they don't mix things up a bit more. Maybe add a bit more of that faster and ultimately less melancholic stuff that showed up in In the Halls of Awaiting.
One For Sorrow is the album that marks the debut of the Finnish band Insomnium on giants Century Media. They’ve been writing some quality material for some time now, and this new record marks a new beginning in the band’s career.
I’ve been a bit critique on the releases done by Century Media in the past months, but mind me I don’t have any kind of grudge against them, it’s just that some releases have been sub-par to my eyes and ears. Now come Insomnium and again I’m forced to give a positive review, as this is a band and album that deserves such.
I only know of this band for a year now, since I knew they’d be opening for Dark Tranquillity here in Portugal. I had to check them out as to see what I would be dealing with at the show. My findings proved to be quite interesting, and their show only cemented the already great impression they made on me with their studio efforts. The show revolved naturally around their latest album at the time, Across The Dark, which was the first album by the band to feature clean vocals and a more atmospheric and laid back approach. This new record builds on that new direction and takes it even further, proving itself to be an even more atmospheric and melancholic, albeit dark, effort.
From the get go we understand how much the band has shifted in its approach to the melancholic tunes they have accustomed us to, with the beginning of “Inertia” sounding a bit post-rockish in atmosphere, very laid back and calm until the main riff comes in. The album opens much like their previous record, with “Inertia” and “Through The Shadows” working together as one long piece, despite “Inertia” being an intro. The ever-present keyboards are also carried along from their last album and do an amazingly beautiful layering of the melodic leads. And if you thought that the riffs were gone, those thoughts are immediately banished from your mind as the main riff steals the show, alongside the clean vocals. This song reminds me of the folk influences on their first album, and their relation to Amorphis, and this is certainly a great opener to the album.
The albums keeps pushing forward and strongly with the thumping “Song Of The Blackest Bird” and “Only One Who Waits”, two tracks that show the aggressiveness in the rhythm section, where the pounding drums do a great job during the heavier parts and also provide for great fills during the clean sections. There’s also a distinct similarity to Amon Amarth’s more epic moments in “Only One Who Waits”, especially during the chorus and solo. Here you begin to notice some other changes in the songwriting, where the band now elongates their riffs as to work more as continuous and long passages, melodic and almost doomy in nature, but always with a positive vibe in them. More melodic breaks and interludes work perfectly well and provide for moments like those found on the calmer tracks of Since The Day It All Came Down, bringing back again memories of other times. This is again well shown and performed in the beautiful “Lay The Ghost To Rest” and “Regain The Fire” with both tracks featuring a haunting atmosphere that makes you tremble with emotion.
Another note of similarity between this album and Across The Dark are the closing tracks of both, with both being sorrowful pieces that leave you with a sense of completeness. The closing and title track “One For Sorrow” is what I’d describe as an almost melodic doom piece, with its slow pace and gentle strumming of the guitars, again with clean vocals returning and proving to be a definite change for the best in the band’s sound. The chorus alone is pure emotion and I think that no one will hear this song and be unimpressed; on the contrary, I think this will become a staple song for their shows and a fan favourite.
One thing I don’t enjoy that much is the production, because it seems to drown the drums and sometimes the vocals behind all the guitars lines. Also the cymbals sound too trebly and thin, when they could have a better and more defined sound. I would definitely like to hear this album with the drums and vocals a bit more upfront, because when the band gets busy the instruments get a bit mixed up and the sound isn’t as clear as it should be. So yes the mix isn’t awesome, but it doesn’t deter you from appreciating these ten songs, although it could have been better.
The album is very tight and cohesive, working better when listened to as a whole instead of just listening to individual tracks, and this is because of the atmosphere it conjures upon you. It works best this way because all tracks seem connected to the next one and listening to them separately would disrupt their natural flow. This obviously has its downside which is the lack of instant memorable moments, apart from a chorus or a lead here and there. As I said, the album works perfectly as a whole, if you divide it in individual songs it gets stripped down of its atmosphere, its meaning and its flow. The quality of the output although, remains always high and this isn’t an album to ignore if you like melodeath or melodic music in general. This is a great piece of work that fits perfectly in any shelve of a Gothenburg sound aficionado, as much as in a Post-Rock fan in need for some heavier songs. The perfect blend between aggression and melody makes this a very easily digestible album, but at the same time a coherent piece of work that has more than the sugary frosting. It instead gives you a feeling of having found something good beneath all the amazing frosting, and this something is what makes you come back over and over again to it.
Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine
Insomnium is one of those bands that has really found their place in the melodic death metal scene. While many artists come across as generic and commercial, these guys have stuck to their guns and maintained a level of consistency that is definitely worth acknowledging. Even though a band can be labeled as melodic death metal, there can be a great deal of variation between one group and the next. Insomnium is one that is often compared to bands like Noumena and Omnium Gatherum. There is a deep feeling of sorrow, sadness and grief in their lyrics and the music helps to bring that emotion to the foreground of every song on the album.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with their work, “One for Sorrow” marks Insomnium’s fifth release. The fact that they have now signed with Century Media has reflected in the production value of the album. Every instrument is well mastered and nicely polished. There is a large portion of ambient instrumentation mixed into the album is well which adds another layer of atmosphere onto the already deep and meaningful lyrical content.
Everything starts off to a bit of a slow start with the intro “Inertia“, but it eventually fades into something that sounds much more familiar on “Through the Shadows.” At first the clean vocals may seem a bit disjointed from the rest of the music, but as they work their way into more and more of the songs on the album, it feels more and more a part of the overall sound.
As the album moves forward, a clear progression emerges. The songs blend into one another and it seems almost as if a story is unfolding with each passing second. Tracks like “Song of the Blackest Bird” and “Lay the Ghost to Rest” create that perfect contrast between highs and lows, slow breakdowns and catchy riffs. Clean vocals are peppered through the album and help to add another layer to the listening experience. On songs like “Every Hour Wounds“, this vocal style adds an almost haunting quality to the music.
Despite having a rather slow introduction, everything ends up fitting together nicely. The guitars have that solid contrast between the high picks and the low crunches, the double bass keeps the music progressing and the vocals keep those dark, painful emotions running strong. Instrumentally, there are thrashy parts, doomy parts, ambient breakdowns, and even an instrumental found in “Decoherence” that helps break up the album into easily digestable portions.
“One for Sorrow” does an excellent job of keeping the Insomnium sound alive. The lyrical content is excellent and the overall feel is very much alive. For fans of the band, it may seem like a bit of a deviation from previous albums, but these elements add to the dark atmosphere that the band seems to have perfected in the past. For newcomers to their work or to melodic death metal in general, the album stands strong and shows a solid example of the genre. This is a sound uniquely their own and that quality is something that is becoming more and more difficult to find as the the scene becomes more popular.
Originally written for Metal Blast Magazine:
The Finnish melodic death metal scene just doesn't do very much for me. Whether its Omnium Gatherum, Mors Principium Est and up until this album Insomium. But One For Sorrow is a bit better than the rest, including Omnium Gatherum's album New World Shadows that came out earlier this year.
If I were to describe Insomnium on One For Sorrow I would say they sound like a slower In Flames (Pre-Clayman) with a focus on doom and gloom type riffs and atmosphere. In fact the guitar harmonies are straight up what you would expect to hear off of Colony or Whoracle. This isn't bad though, it might not be very original but In Flames always were my favorite with how well done the harmonies were. Its easy to see that band was probably the biggest influence on Insomnium, listen through Only One Who Waits.
But the slower songs rule this album though. Lay the Ghost to Rest (which has great riffs), One For Sorrow, and Inertia all exude the slower more depressing kind of sound that Insomnium are well known for. Not to mention the instrumental Decoherence which is an extension of that sound but even darker and softer.
The one thing I do enjoy about these bands from Finland though is the vocals. They completely drop the higher pitched growls that the Swedish bands make such heavy use of and go for a lower more obvious death metal tone. There are some clean vocals here but they are used sparingly and done very well. Its not really that the cleans are even that good as far as vocal quality is concerned, but that they are put into parts of songs where they add another dimension to it all.
The only real complaint I have is the thing that most people seem to enjoy about this band. The whole sad/depressing sound does get a little tiring. The songs are good but that atmosphere isn't as well done as I have heard on other albums, Mirrorworlds by Eucharist being the most obvious example. Though if you enjoy that sound as many people seem to it won't bother you at all like it does me.
One For Sorrow is a really solid album with great melodies and harmonies. The dark sound is interesting but it kind of became tiring to me. The vocals, both clean and harsh, are really well done and I enjoy hearing the guttural style that Niilo Sevanen uses. This has become probably one of my favorite releases from a Finnish melodeath band.
Originally reviewed @ http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/
I came into this album being fully prepared to either be blown away (as usual by this band) or very disappointed. Fortunately, Insomnium continue to deliver strongly on this album and add another flight in their staircase toward a high place in the history of Melodic Death Metal.
The added production value and drive provided by a larger, international record label likely had a lot to do with how ambitious this album sounds when compared to those preceeding it. Insomnium haven't changed their sound very much since Since The Day It All Came Down, sticking to a tried and true formula that has pleased all of their fans. One For Sorrow is their first step in a truely different direction. Some of the speed and technicality of their first album is back here as the band takes more risks with their songwriting. All of these risks pay off and bring the band into a more marketable sound to a wider audience. There are songs for people who like faster, heavier Melodeath, but there are still others which remain slow and full of clean sections to please fans of the softer, more emotional material.
All of the intruments are heard well in this mix. The drums are finally brought up to a good spot and the guitars are equally prominent. The bass is punchy, but not overly prevalent. Most notably different here are the vocals, which sound even deeper and more brutal than ever before. There are songs again on this album with clean singing sections, like those that appeared on the previous album. These songs again sound just as good as others and don't detract from the overall experience.
Overall, this is another strong outing for the band and one that they (and their longtime fans) should be proud to show to a whole new audience. The band has broadened their songwriting, rather than releasing yet another clone of Since The Day It All Came Down. They have not sacrificed a bit of their uniquely emotional sound, however. If you love this band, then this another must-own album. If you're curious about checking this band out for the first time, then this is a great place to start.
Finland's melodic death mavens Insomnium are not a band with anything to prove. Three of their four prior albums rank among the best of that particular national niche, and while I found the exception (Above the Weeping World) to be a mild disappointment, it was still decent enough and quite highly praised beyond my personal sphere. With One for Sorrow, the band have continued directly where the 2009 stunner Across the Dark left off, to the extent that the two are virtually indistinguishable outside of minor variations in production, so that's either going to be a positive or negative depending on just how much you enjoyed that. I thought it was certainly a milestone for the Finns, and one of their best outings, but I'm not sure I was in the market for what is more or less a duplicate of that.
One for Sorrow is true to its namesake, and the band retains its rare ability to wrench about the listeners' emotions through wailing walls of melody. Rather than rely on complexity in their compositions, they instead like to build upon simpler rhythmic motifs by intensifying the drums, slathering in the massive, full-throated growls of Niilo Sevänen, and letting those melodies glide above the interwoven mesh like brave gulls traversing the Arctic Circle, clung to the ailing rays of sun to keep them aloft. Like its predecessors, the album's style is routed pretty heavily in the mid to late 90s evolution of their countrymen Amorphis, so you'll hear some psychedelic and atmospheric keyboards throughout the disc, and a bit of vocal variation where the somewhat weak cleans are layered in with the gutturals.
The pacing dynamics are not necessarily placed upon an even footing, mind you, and Insomnium are more often heavy than not, but they'll often tone down to some cleaner guitar sequences like the lush instrumental "Decoherence" or the opening to "Unsung", two of the better songs here. I also really adored the intro piece "Inertia" as it slowly gathered force from its atmospheric ringing to Niilo's heart-pouring background growls, but instead of busting out one of the more potent emotional pieces to capitalized on it, I found "Through the Shadows" to be one of the least interesting and more predictable tracks. More intense are "Only One Who Waits" with the muted melodic tails in its opening thunder, or the moving title track which morphs from steady, percussive clean guitars and drums and layered vocals up to this inescapable, dreamy guitar melody like a beam of light through parted clouds.
Ultimately, I did not find the selection of tracks here to be quite so poignant or impacting as "The Harrowing Years", "The Lay of Autumn" or the epic "Down with the Sun" from the prior album, which was very near perfect in summary. Nor does this album teeter upon the balance of power and fragility quite so well as their superb debut In the Halls of Awaiting. The lyrics are fairly average, with a lot of cliched emotional imagery that exactly read like memorable poetry. I'd say that Insomnium have played it pretty safe here, but it's to their credit that One for Sorrow is still well structured and resonant enough to throttle most of the other bands in the sub-genre, and fans enamored of the colossal productions of fellow Finns Amorphis, Kalmah and Noumena will very likely find themselves in a familiar trance.