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THE EPITOME OF CONSISTENCY - 88%

witheredheath94, March 31st, 2013

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.