If you have read some of my previous reviews, you know that I enjoy listening to death metal. Be it traditional, technical, progressive, or blackened, I can get into it. Melodic death metal is another subgenre that takes up a decent size chunk of my music collection. Bands like In Flames, Soilwork, and In Mourning have dominated that area for me for a while. Even though they have been putting out records since 2002, I only discovered Finland’s Insomnium after their killer album “One for Sorrow” came out in 2011. I expected similar excellence from Insomnium when I heard they were releasing their new album “Shadows of the Dying Sun” on April 28, 2014.
Throughout their catalog of music, Insomnium have continued to perfect their brand of melodic death metal. Filled with melancholy lyrical themes, great guitar work, ambient organs, and growling vocals, they have been a band to count on for quality jams. “Shadows of the Dying Sun” takes all of Insomnium’s previous greatness and pushes the music in some new directions. Not a complete re-working, just a few tweaks here and there to keep things interesting.
“Shadows of the Dying Sun” is much more melodically focused than any of the bands previous records. It takes advantage of Ville Friman’s clean voice as much as Niilo Sevänen’s growls, giving this album a more balanced attack vocally. ‘Lose to Night’ and ‘The Promethean Song’ are great examples of this. Markus Hirvonen shows off his skills behind the drums on tracks like ‘Black Heart Rebellion’ with more blast beats and double kick than usual. Markus Vanhala of Omnium Gatherum on guitar is a welcome addition to Insomnium. He fits seamlessly into the band. Markus lays down some awesome solos throughout the record. The one at the end of ‘While We Sleep’ is just one of many. Then there is ‘Ephemeral,’ the track the band put out as a single/EP last September. This should be the “one of these things is not like the other” track, but with the other musical changes and overall feel to the album, it doesn’t stick out as much as you would expect.
The steps toward a more melodic base have really broadened Insomnium’s pallet, one that was already filled with dark, ominous, and powerful colors. This slight change opens them up for greater variation and growth. These stylistic changes, combined with smooth as glass production, make “Shadows of the Dying Sun” a great record.