Thursday, January 21, 2010

Music Review - Insomnium - Across the Dark

Insomnium are one of maybe 3 or 4 melodic death metal bands I can listen to without being annoyed after 5 minutes. I've never really thought At the Gates, In Flames or Arch Enemy were that good, to be honest, I've never thought they were anything more than annoying, lame and boring. Irritating high-pitched screeches, lame riffs and just an overall boring feel was something that plagued these bands, but fortunately Insomnium suffers from none of these.

The previous album, Above the Weeping World, was a good blend of dreary acoustics and good solid melodic death metal; however, the death metal was never more than solid (with one or two exceptions) but I LOVED the acoustic sections. Here, on Across the Dark, its reversed. The acoustics take a back seat to some of the best melodic riffs the band have ever written (and I'd say some of the best in the melo-death scene) and while the acoustic sections aren't bad, they aren't really up to par with ATWW nor are they as numerous or as long lasting. As I said before, the melo-death has really been amped up, with some awesome melodic riffs, leads and melodies, and in some cases, soaring keyboards and clean vocals. Both of those are new ground for the band, and while the vocals aren't exactly awe-inspiring, they fit reasonably well and generally compliment the melody of the song at hand.

The extreme vocals are even better than they were on previous albums; deep, powerful, angry, desperate, sorrowful and perfectly executed. Insomniums vocals are second to none in the scene and have just such a force and power behind them that puts the shriekers and screamers that inhabit melodic death metal to shame.

Guitars are handled perfectly; melodic and heavy with some terrific leads and riffs. The production lends a good thick sound to both the guitars and drums, which gives it a powerful and hard hitting feel. Drums are well-played; there's not a lot amazing or jaw-dropping technical feats, but they're played with a fantastic tightness and accuracy.

The lyrics are as well-written as ever, and convey genuine sorrow and emotion without being cliche or cheesy or over the top. I wish they'd delved more into poetry as they did with Drawn To Black from ATTW though; I was slightly disappointed in that. Other than that small gripe though, lyrics are top-notch.

The overall feeling of this album is sadness, nostalgia and dreariness, but every once in a while a ray of sunlight with creep through, however brief. Moments of brutality are woven together with moments of delicate acoustic guitar and piano that make for a truly enjoyable listen; I highly recommend this album to anyone even remotely into heavy music.

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