Insomnium - Shadows of the Dying Sun (2014)
Century Media Records
Review by Trevor Proctor
Formed in 1997 Finland’s Insomnium have just released their sixth album; Shadows of the Dying Sun that follows their 2011 acclaimed album “One for Sorrow” which was the band’s highly successful debut for Century Media who are again responsible for this release.
Insomnium have increased their audience and progressed their sound with each album, from the modest beginnings of debut “In the Halls of Awaiting” onwards they have grown in popularity whilst improving their sound to become a major player in the Finnish melodic death metal scene of today. Insomnium’s leanings towards melody and composition have also increased with every release; a fact confirmed by vocalist and bassist Niilo Sevänen when speaking of the new album “Fans can rest assured that it is still classic INSOMNIUM. Of course there's also some new flavours here and there, and maybe it's even more diverse compared with the last album. The easy stuff is easier than before, the heavy stuff is heavier. The contrasts between the songs are probably bigger than on any of our previous albums.”
The album starts with The Primeval Dark, in places this is one of the heavier tracks on the album – it catches the attention with its contrast between clean and growled vocals with spirit rousing lead guitar work - from the opening seconds it’s blatantly apparent this is going to be a very ambitious, well composed, well produced album. The Primeval Dark bleeds nicely into While We Sleep, forming an excellent one-two opening to the album. This track features another blend of clean and growled vocals, showcasing Insomnium’s balance between brutality and beauty nicely; the breakdown close to the end is simply superb and when coupled with the outstanding guitar solo across the final minute we see just how majestic the music of Insomnium can be.
The range of styles and sounds across Shadows of the Dying Sun is simply outstanding - the contrast between these differing sounds is most noticeable between tracks four and five – Black Heart Rebellion is by far the heaviest with its frenetic blast beats and occasional Black Metal leanings yet following track Lose to Night is one of the album’s more chilled moments. Its ballad-like approach keeps things at a melodic yet slow pace again with sterling guitar solos and a nice combination of clean/growled vocals again being used effectively.
Every track on the album has its highlights but another for me that shows the scope and epic nature of Insomnium’s music is the closing track, which also happens to be the title track – it’s another bold yet grandiose track that verges on ballad territory in places but even with its anthemic nature and harmonised singing it’s still an excellent, ambitious way to finish off an excellent ambitious album.
I appreciate this is not the usual sort of album I’d review and admit at times the harmonised, clean vocals can be a little too much for my own taste but this is merely a matter of personal preference and does not mean in the slightest that I can’t appreciate and applaud Insomnium’s musical vision and ambition along with the musical prowess on display from start to finish during this very well composed and produced album - a magnificent, refreshing and visionary album from start to finish.
1. The Primeval Dark
2. While We Sleep
4. Black Heart Rebellion
5. Lose to Night
6. Collapsing Words
7. The River
9. The Promethean Song
10. Shadows of the Dying Sun
Shadows of the Dying Sun is released by Century Media and is available now.