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One for Sorrow - 80%

Houseplant, October 25th, 2011

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: