Finnish band Insomnium are often described as melodic death metal, yet they also bring in atmospheric elements of black metal and so many other elements on this album that I would not be surprised to see them categorised prog metal as well. Released in 2014, here is a band who have had huge stability in line-up with Niilo Sevänen (bass, vocals), Ville Friman (guitars, clean vocals) both founders, drummer Markus Hirvonen joining not long afterwards in 1997, and guitarist Markus Vanhala joining in 2011. In fact, the only change in their line-up since this album is the addition of Jani Liimatainen in 2019, so still incredibly consistent, and since this was released there have been another three albums, of which one was 2019’s ‘Heart Like A Grave’ which I rated very highly indeed.
Long-time guest Aleksi Munter provides keyboards on this album, while backing singer and producer Teemu Aalto made his first appearance with the band (also appearing on the next two releases), together providing additional cleanliness and polish. The result is something which can be brutally heavy, yet there may also be acoustic guitars, the keyboards provide a backdrop and while there are times when we are full-on death it is always wonderfully melodic. The contrast between the brutality and the polish is what makes this such a dynamic release, full of dark and light so one never knows where it is going to lead. They walk a tight line between having too much of one or the other, ensuring the two sides bounce off each other, and at times there is a brooding melancholy with a cold atmosphere permeating the overall sound. Anyone seeing the term “death metal” may be surprised at just how commercial and melodic this album is, and there is much in here for those who may not normally investigate music from that genre. I have previously compared them to Borknagar, and I hear that in this release as well, which is still a delight nearly ten years on from its release.