Across The Dark
7 September 2009
by Chris Cope
It seems these days you can chuck melodic onto anything and you’ll get a resplendent new genre to wrap your ears around. Melodic death metal was one of the first to bridge the whole melodic thing with its respective sound and it has stood up to the proverbial test of time. Insomnium are fine purveyors of this aural battery/massage [delete as applicable], with the Finnish metal lords having been on the scene since the late 90s.
Across The Dark is their fourth album but perhaps unfortunately it tends to toe the line rather than burst a gut to break new ground. The opener, ‘Equivalence’, is a mostly instrumental pep-talk for the seven tracks that is to come, with an ambient beginning, rhythmic middle akin to early Nightwish and an end showcasing sprawling doom guitar, synth and guttural vocals that if turned up to 11, may cause your calluses to quiver.
It flows to the next track ‘Down With The Sun’ like a fledgling river into its parental estuary, a cut of epic-leaning metal with lead guitar prowling on top of the chord-progression happy riffage. It’s a bit of a microcosm of what the rest of the album is about. There is, however, a peppering of clean vocals on the rest of the tracks – but they’re a bit, in the words everyone’s favourite tub thumper Lars Ulrich, ‘stock’, and offer little vocal pipe panache. Check out ‘The Harrowing Years’ for some closed-eyes, fist-clenching croons that veers more to the cheddary end of the singing spectrum.
They’re absent however on ‘Against The Stream’, a six minute track that opens with some Killswitch Engage-esque fretplay (all you need is a ‘come on!’ and you’re set). The synth helps this song usurp turgidity, and makes for a fine prog-rock instrumental breakdown in the middle.
Watch Thrash Hits TV: Insomnium @ Bloodstock 2009
And perhaps that is the essence of this album – flourishes of ingenuity and often spot-on dynamics masking occasionally repetitive, un-exciting songs. ‘Lay Of Autumn’ grinds and yelps but at nine minutes it tends to stray from your attention despite a swaying clean section a third of the way through, whilst ‘Into The Woods’ flirts with a tired almost-metalcore sound.
But there’s something to be taken from each track, be it classic, sweeping chord progressions or even just back-to-basics riffage. But its longevity and endurance, in times when bands are constantly pushing the boundaries is under scrutiny – it remains to be seen whether it’ll still have an impact in the months to come.
Sounds Like: A transfusion of melody, metal and a hint of cheesy musk.
Top Tracks: Equivalence, Down With The Sun, Weighed Down With Sorrow.
Insomnium – Across The Dark tracklisting
Down With The Sun
Where The Last Wave Broke
The Harrowing Years
Against The Stream
Lay Of Autumn
Into The Woods
Weighed Down With Sorrow