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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.