As mentioned in my last review of INSOMNIUM, the band is one of those bands that is meeting almost unanimously positive feedback in reviews all over the globe and “The Metal Observer” is no exception. Now the quartet is back with a fourth album, titled “Across The Dark” and once more this is destined to appear on countless year-end (such as mine) lists and fairly often towards the top, even though there have been some changes going on in the band camp. While the line-up has been steady since 2001, the Finns have made some slight adjustments to their style that some old fans may condemn, but in the end do not impact the quality of their output at all.
These adjustments mostly can be seen in a slightly straighter direction and more pure Melodic Death attacks, while the acoustic guitar that I had so praised on predecessor “Above The Weeping World” has basically left the building this time around, so I can already sense you fear that the band’s sound may be less characteristic and distinct and this sense will be heightened by me mentioning that courtesy of guest vocalist Jules Näveri (PROFANE OMEN/ENEMY OF THE SUN) there even are some clear vocals to be found throughout the album, so are INSOMNIUM taking the path of easier accessibility and mass compatibility?
Well, it may seem like this at a quick glance at what the album contains, but if you dig a little deeper than just the surface, the melancholy and atmosphere are still there, just more contrasting with the heavier Melo Death eruptions that seem to have found their way onto this disc after having taken the backseat on the last one. “Down With The Sun” can be presented as example for this, with its slow-paced beginning and great atmosphere, which then alternates with full Melodic Death Metal passages, creating a surprisingly well-rounded symbiosis. The first song that may alert the fans of old is “Where The Last Wave Broke”, as here we see the clear vocals for the first time and also the straighter character, but this still is melancholic and melodic Death Metal as only few other bands can rival.
And I believe that it is this approach that INSOMNIUM needed to keep things fresh and avoid falling into the dangerous trap of just repeating a successful formula, even more so as they manage to maintain their own and overall Finnish melancholic edge throughout the songs, such as “The Harrowing Years” that almost perfects this and features dual vocals and the atmosphere still is there when they go for the fast and sharp Melodic Death Metal attack of an “Against The Stream”, whereas “Lay Of The Autumn” has these wonderful sweeping arrangements that can carry away throughout the nine minutes of its presence and the slow, epic and beautiful elegy that is “Weighed Down With Sorrow” is just a brilliant ending to this album.
I guess that you can say that some bands “just have it” and INSOMNIUM definitely have their own style and most of all the quality that it takes to maintain an amazing level of quality throughout their whole career so far. “Across The Dark” is yet another monument of their class...
(Online January 8, 2010)