One for Sorrow

by: Insomnium

While they've never exactly qualified as paparazzi targets, the members of Finnish gothic death metal ensemble Insomnium always seem to keep a pretty low profile between albums, happily buggering off to their respective caves for hibernation or whatever it is they do up there in the frozen north. All jesting aside, when the band eventually resumes its rock & roll existence, a grand reentrance is almost de rigueur, and fifth album One for Sorrow's deliberate, slow-rising intro piece, "Inertia," delivers just that, via minimal echoes and ghostly cymbals that evolve through marshal rhythms and murmured growls into the recognizable blend of thundering riffs, lush synths, and spine-tingling howls that define the Gothenburg metal style. Yes, its true that the Fins continue to tinker cautiously with that style's basic ingredients here, as they did on 2009's Across the Dark, resulting in the dominant clean singing of "Meandering Through the Shadows" and the processed techno beats strapped onto dreamy instrumental "Decoherence." But, by and large, Insomnium still seem happy to cater to genre loyalists and other sticklers to tradition with alternately brutal and morose mini-epics like "Song of the Blackest Bird" and "Lay the Ghost to Rest," as well as multiple examples of melo-death-by-numbers. Some are kick-drum-happy bruisers barked with Cookie Monster fervor and streaked with serpentine synth accoutrements ("Only One Who Waits," "Every Hour Wounds," Regain the Fire"); others complex studies in dark and light, both vocal and instrumental ("Unsung," the title track); yet all have their modest rate of innovation justified by Insomnium's reliably high-caliber songwriting and performance. So while some observers may argue that One for Sorrow appears to lack quite as many strong, irresistible melodies as 2006's career peak, Above the Weeping World, Insomnium's sheer mastery of their chosen craft is bound to satiate most supporters for now. [Shortly after One for Sorrow's release, it was announced that Insomnium's founding lead guitarist, Ville Vänni, was departing to focus on his career as a surgeon (!), to be replaced by former Omnium Gatherum member Markus Vanhala.] ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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