Shadows of the Dying Sun
28 April 2014
by Pete Long
Over the course of five albums, Insomnium has emerged as one of the best things to happen to Melodic Death Metal post-1995. When it comes to bittersweet melody and sprawling build-ups to emotional, cathartic denouements, they have very few competitors. That’s probably why new album Shadows Of The Dying Sun is the one thing you should buy this week and with this sixth release, the Finns have decided to tinker with their sound.
It still sounds very much like Insomnium though – ‘The Primeval Dark’ starts in the same vein as all of their other albums and ‘While We Sleep’ is as good an example of their style as just about anything they’ve released. Ville Friman’s clean vocals add nothing to the track, but that’s a small quibble. ‘Revelation’ bears the influence of new guitarist Markus Vanhala, better known for his exploits with Omnium Gatherum, and the song wouldn’t have been out of place on New World Shadows. ‘Blackened Heart Rebellion’ might have a tritely gothic name, but its blastbeats and blackened edges mark it out as something new in the Insomnium repertoire.
‘Lose to Night’ is a less welcome addition, gentle and with prominent clean vocals. It’s not a bad song, and may well appeal to fans of latter-day Amorphis or Katatonia, but presented here it is too big a shift in dynamic. ‘Collapsing Words’ reclaims some momentum with its straight forwards yearning but its ‘The River’ that is the standout track of the album. Its furious blastbeat driven intro carries the listener on a meandering emotional journey that culminates gloriously. It even features the best use of Friman’s cleans yet in the band’s history.
‘Ephemeral’ and ‘The Promethean Song’ feel a bit like every other Melodic Death Metal band out there. The former manages a bit of charm with its catchiness but the latter is too somnolent with its heavy-clean structure. Insomnium are better than this and prove it with the title track, a slow burner that eventually closes the album fittingly.
Shadows Of The Dying Sun is a long way from being a perfect album. The balance of introspection and emotional energy is askew and some of the ideas don’t work. Ville Friman’s clean vocals would have a greater impact if used less. But it’s nice to see a talented band push their boundaries back while still retaining what made them great to begin with.
Sounds Like: Amorphis gone epic or Cult of Luna gone goth. Or both at once.
Standout Tracks: The River, While We Sleep, Blackened Heart Rebellion