I think it goes without saying at this point that Finish melodeath collective Insomnium is one of the most respected and consistent names in their genre. While Scandinavia is no stranger to exports of high-quality melodic death metal, many of the genre’s biggest names like In Flames and Children of Bodom have either compromised their distinctive sound in favour of more accessible elements, or in some cases, no longer exist. Insomnium however, has continued to fine-tune the gloomy atmosphere they first presented almost two decades ago in 2002’s In The Halls of Awaiting. Now, boasting a total of eight melancholic yet undeniably gorgeous releases under their belt, the band has done the UK and Ireland the honour of a nationwide tour in support of their latest opus, Heart Like a Grave (Century Media). An album that is less sprawling and proggy than Winter’s Gate (Century Media), but is an equally if not more epic and melodic record, packed with more guitar leads and solos than anything they have released to date. Certainly, it is the kind of material that you would expect to excel in the live environment, and so on a bleak Monday night in winter, I ventured out to Manchester Academy 3 for a necessary dose of metalised depression. Continue reading
Losing a longstanding member of an established band is never easy but when the musician in question doubles as a chief songwriter, it’s a predicament that can be career ending. Luckily for Finnish gloom merchants Insomnium, the loss of Ville Vänni in 2011 proved only to be a minor inconvenience as a worthwhile replacement was soon found in Omnium Gatherum axeman Markus Vanhala, a man well-versed in sombre melodic death metal. It’s no surprise then that he’s a perfect addition to the band and makes his presence known on sixth album Shadows of the Dying Sun (Century Media).
Given that Insomnium do what they do so well, it’s a case of ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and this maxim is strictly adhered to across the board, although there are some nods to the band’s early days such as the return of Niilo Sevänen’s darkly intoned spoken word utterances on a couple of tracks, lending the tracks an even more solemn air, if that were possible. But don’t for one second think they’re not enjoying themselves, as the avenues explored on Shadows of the Dying Sun are lengthy and inspired. It may be variations on a theme, but it’s a damn good theme.
The building thrill of opener ‘The Primeval Dark’ gets pulses racing with its clinical chugs and swirling keys while the mournful melodic-doom workout of ‘While We Sleep’ has a strong whiff of fellow Finns Amorphis with its sorrow-filled riffs and death roars. Elsewhere, the blistering attack of ‘Black Heart Rebellion’ shows that there’s still plenty of fire surging through the band members’ veins while the infectious ‘Ephemeral’ is a catchy modern metal song done to absolute perfection without a nuance of integrity sacrificed in the process.
Like a fine wine, Insomnium just get better with age and like anything of beauty, you never want to stop experiencing it. Make no mistake; Shadows of the Dying Sun hits the sweet spot.
Finnish melodic deathsters Insomnium might as well consider The Underworld as their London home: the way the quartet is welcomed tonight is, as always, simply overwhelming to say the least. After a successful 2011 that saw them reaching their highest pick with their stunning fifth album One For Sorrow and a series of live appearances including the support role to mighty Paradise Lost and their headlining European tour in 2012, the squad is ready to strike again, opening for Moonspell. Nothing seems to be short of flawlessness with their set since the very first instance that vocalist and bassist Niilo Sevänen stomps on the stage, with his captivating confidence of a true frontman. Continue reading