One For Sorrow
17 October 2011
by Jon Kerr
Finland’s Insomnium describe their fifth album as being about “bereavement, grief and loss”. Fittingly, it’s a record of real diversity and can, at times, generate a spine tingling atmosphere. As former touring buddies of Katatonia, Enslaved and Satyricon you might expect Insomnium to serve up a more consistently heavy contribution than this.
‘Inertia’ is a steady paced, simplistic scene setter. It takes ages to get going, and Markus Hirvonen’s double kicks drums are far too low in the mix to hold your attention. It essentially acts as a starter to the main course of ‘Through the Shadows’, where things finally get going. Once again, Hirvonen’s credible drum performance is squandered by the production, which is a pity. On this track, and later on ‘Regain The Fire’, Insomnium choose to overlay melodic vocals on top of Niilo Sevänen’s guttural lead performance. For me, the two styles just don’t compliment each other enough for that to work.
The lengthy ‘Song of the Blackest Bird’ blasts out of the blocks (a better way to have opened the album, perhaps…?). The twin guitar work of Ville Friman and Ville Vänni comes into its own and the track serves as a great example of how a less-is-more approach to melodic lead guitar can work in metal. There are even Cradle of Filth-esque whisperings throughout and a ‘breakdown’ in the song which shows off their well honed song writing skills. Finally, it fades out to an unexpected acoustic outro which catches the listener off guard.
In the middle of the record, things get heavy and stay heavy. The trio of ‘Only One Who Waits’, ‘Unsung’ and ‘Every Hour Wounds’ are a treat – all aggressive mosh-pit satisfiers with genuine fire in their bellies. You can’t help but wish that the whole album was like this. And yet, the atmosphere never quite goes away, especially in Sevänen’s often evocative poetics: “No stars shine, no moon roams / No sun broods, no winds blow”.
Listen to ‘Unsung’ by Insomnium:
At this point, the acoustic-led instrumental ‘Decoherence’ brings the aggression to a standstill – just when I don’t want it to. The albums longest track, ‘Lay the Ghost to Rest’, does little to repair the damage with Friman and Vänni becoming slightly indulgent in showing off their range. Less punchy than other tracks here, ‘Lay the Ghost to Rest’ is the sound of a band trying that bit too hard to impress. The title track ends the album in a brooding and distinctive way which possibly shows off Insomnium’s hybid approach at its best.
One for Sorrow ultimately seems to be trying to be too many things at once – as soon as your heads gets banging and going along with the rhythms, they switch to melodies, and then switch back again. Which, after a while, just starts to become annoying.
Sounds Like: Cult of Luna, Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis
Top Tracks: ‘Song of the Blackest Bird’, ‘Only One Who Waits’, ‘Unsung’
Insomnium – One For Sorrow tracklisting:
Through the Shadows
Song of the Blackest Bird
Only One Who Waits
Every Hour Wounds
Lay the Ghost to Rest
Regain the Fire
One for Sorrow