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Another good example of consistency - 85%

androdion, November 7th, 2011

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