We’ve talked much in the recent few months about “the return” of melodic death metal. Releases from the genre abound and the future seems productive and bright for this somewhat beleaguered genre. We’ve always taken a sympathetic and excited note towards this return, as many of us staff hold the genre close to our hearts. This sparks the question: why? What is it about melodic death metal and the music it contains under its broad wings that makes us love it so much? One need look no further than Insomnium‘s Shadows of the Dying Sun for a clear, resolute answer. This album contains all the power components of melodic death: sweeping emotions, far reaching scenery and brittle hope.
Shadows pulls no punches in reaching into one’s heart and twisting. From the very first coupling of tracks, ‘The Primeval Dark’ and ‘While We Sleep’, the level of emotional commitment becomes clear: the heavy kick drums on the first track set the stage for an epic guitar section that finds its fulfillment in the next track, clenching tightly around our hearts and letting go only when it deposits us on the other side, breathless. This device can be heard across the album, as it takes the contour of hills if you will: soaring peaks give way to decrepit and desolate valleys of resentment and emotion.
Some tracks, like The River, contain this rise and fall within themselves. Herein lies the genius of the album. Twisting the definitions of the genre, Shadows incorporates numerous slower segments, some of them drawing heavily on folk influences. From the lilting guitars on ‘Revelation to the heart wrenching, Anathema like bridge near the end of ‘Black Heart Rebellion’ these unique passages only serve to further accentuate the potency contained within the blast beats and guttural vocals of the heavier passages. To be certain, no shortage of these rougher parts exists, with tracks like Ephermal and Lost to Night supplying plenty soaring riffs and screamed denials of the world.
Resplendent above all these elements soar the vocals of Niilo Sevänen. In fact, it is amazing to witness the degree in which Sevänen controls all the different arts of the style: when the music requires drawn out screams, contained barks or even deep and disturbing growls, all of which can be heard on the ‘The River’, Sevänen is robust and capable. But when the softer parts call for clearer singing, Ville Friman backs him up in an astounding fashion. His voice carries timber and depth that reminds one of Devon Graves or perhaps even the soft parts of Devin Townsend.
Realizing and completing all of this are masterful lyrics. These are sometimes ignored in reviews, since an approach to them tends to be highly subjective, but they are worth mentioning here. Weaving sagas, hope and striking imagery, the lyrics on Shadows are the final step in the bridge to the dreams that Insomnium offer us. Shadows of the Dying Sun is an impassioned journey both inside us and without. It holds within it the capability to make you dream and the capability to make you cry, both introspection and a sharp glance at the outside world. It is all we love and appreciate in melodic death metal.
Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun gets…