inso_cover32cmx32cmCMYKprintuseOver the past decade, Insomnium has been one of, if not the most consistent of the morose, Finnish styled melo-death acts in operation. They’ve delivered album after album of “dead puppy under the Christmas tree” flavored music, loaded with gothic trappings and they’ve won the melancholy sweepstakes more often than not. In recent years, fellow countrymen Omnium Gatherum have stolen some of their thunder and lunch money with ripping albums like New World Shadows and Beyond, but the sleepless ones soldiered on regardless, doing what they do best on quality platters like One With Sorrow. Shadows of the Dying Sun features some of the same tried-and-true approach, but also goes for a more mellow, new wave-y sound and it feels too light, and dare I say it, boring. There’s still some beautiful, highly emotive music here, perfect to spin as you drown in a frozen lake of your own choosing, but it wanders too far off into sad Finn boy territory for my tastes and feels like a band spinning its wheels in a wintry ditch, not advancing or regressing, just stuck in the flat, slushy now of their sound.

Things kick off in top form with opener “The Primeval Dark,” which is vintage Insomnium to the core, full of sad, trilling riffs and chilly remorse. It’s beautiful and grim and oh-so-Finnish. That segues effortlessly into “While We Sleep,” which is the standout “hit” and offers plenty more of the same downcast fun, with impactful cleans by Ville Friman. It’s the kind of song you will want to replay before it even finishes and it has more mood than most bands are capable of conjuring. “Revelation” hits back hard at Omnium Gatherum with a an aggressive riff and sound right off New World Shadows and it’s a vibrant, ballsy tune. Likewise, “Black Heart Rebellion” sports a nice mix of glum sincerity and blackened edges and even rises to anthemic levels come chorus time. Other moments of decency crop up in “Colliding Worlds” (nifty riffing) and the lengthy “The River” (lots of mood), but neither rises to the level Insomnium usually operates at.

Insomnium_2014After that, things get much more dodgy and watered down. “Lose to Night” is a tepid goth tune with very little death in the melo-death. “Ephemeral” feels like the band wanted to be more catchy and accessible like latter day In Flames or Soilwork, but it’s just dull and flat. The same goes for “The Promethean Song” which is a languid goth rocker with more cleans than death croaks and it’s a one way ticket to Snoozeville. The title track is also low energy, though it sounds enough like modern day Amorphis to make for a reasonably enjoyable,  downtrodden listen.

In his review of 2009s Across the Dark, AMG Himself lamented that these guys don’t really get heavy and seem too bogged down in the mellow side of melo-death, and that criticism rings particularly true here. Their older albums were melo-death with gothic aspects, but this one feels like gothic metal with melo-death aspects. Whereas Omnium Gatherum manages to make this style work so well because they keep it heavy and urgent, Insomnium has been going in the other direction for years and never more so than here, which is rather ironic considering this album features Omnium guitarist Markus Vanhala.

A few great moments can be found, but too many slow tracks with too much gothy singing and a noticeable lack of death metal brings Shadows of the Dying Sun low and make it the first nonessential Insomnium album. Spin the first half since it’s like the good old days, but the rest is pretty somnambulant. Too many shades of grey paint Steel Druhm the color of  disappoint.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
Label: Century Media
Websites: insomnium.net  |  facebook.com/insomniumofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2014.28.04  |  NA: 04.29.2014

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  • Grymm

    I sensed this album was not going to be as good as their older works. Bummer. :(

    • You sensed it, like a disturbance in The Force?

      • Grymm

        This was not the Insomnium I was looking for.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Insomnium: another perfect example of the AMG Law of Diminishing Recordings… Which is a shame because they are excellent musicians with amazing ideas, but once you slip into that comfort zone, it’s hard to free yourself and let those ideas flourish. A crying damn shame, indeed.

  • nunka

    These guys have been releasing and re-releasing the same album since 2004. I’m not complaining… Insomnium albums are always a nice snack in between Omnium feasts.

  • Interesting. After hearing Ephemeral, I was kind of feeling this album would be the one where they finally let us down. But, over on The Metal Observer, founder Alex (who is liberal with scores, but usually pretty good on his review content) scored it a 9.5/10 and sounds pretty taken with it. Is this a “different strokes for different folks” kind of album? Or is he a big doo-doo-head who has a dumb and wrong opinion?

    • I’ve seen it called a masterpiece on several other sites, but sadly, I found most of it really dull and hard to pay attention to and I’m a fan of the band. I tried and tried to get into it, but it didn’t take.

  • Vega Magnus

    Across the Dark and One for Sorrow are still my go-to background music albums after all this time, so this one will probably fit my use of Insomnium just fine despite being dull.

  • Alex Timmer

    I bought In The Halls Of Awaiting in 2002, right from the start. Back then it was blooming music, full of acoustics with raw guitars and breaks. Since Above The Weeping World (2006) they got too popular and all the albums ever since are but a tiny shadow of what those first two records did.
    The title song of In The Halls Of Awaiting is a goddamn fine piece of 10+ minutes Gothenburg met0l.

  • Piet

    I actually think most of Omnium Gatherum’s work is pretty boring with a few great tracks here and there whereas Insomnium never dissapoint. I’m pretty sure they won’t do that with this album either. Their music is just so filled with emotion and their sound just rings with me like no other band can do. For me the “melo” is more important than the “death” so I think I will love this album.

    • Zadion

      I can’t see how anybody could call New World Shadows pretty boring, but I agree otherwise. OG has been very inconsistent until recent years, whereas Insomnium has always been great.

    • Jeremiah J. Preisser

      I think Omnium Gatherum puts out solid albums, but in my opinion, their best cannot even scratch Insomnium`s worst. In comparison to Insomnium their riffs are generic and less emotive; the drumming is less interesting; the vocals are a bit worse, but they don`t have the overall diversity; their buildup to a climax isn`t as captivating; and when they finally get there, it doesn`t provoke me as much.

      Insomnium and Kalmah–for me–are head and shoulders above the rest. Insomnium has always put out stellar material, though the last one was a step in the wrong direction. If this one continues that trend I will be disappointed, but I will do my best to be objective. “Ephemeral” was certainly a sub-par track and the opening riff of (I believe) “While We Sleep” felt re-used, albeit slower. I will certainly pick it up when it comes out.

      • lurchblurch

        Kalmah, gotdamn. You alright. You alright.

    • Kryopsis

      I honestly think there’s ample room for both Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum. The two bands also seem to be drifting in different directions so we’ll see where the two end up in a few years. Anyway, Insomnium was always about the atmosphere to me so it doesn’t bother me that Shadows of the Dying Sun is ‘less Metal’ than their previous works. I mean Anathema had a drastic change of direction and it worked out just fine.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    God damn it I’ve been so looking forward to this release and have been hammering One for Sorrow in anticipation! I’m still going to pick it up though and given the review I think it will be best experienced on headphones..in the dark…so no one can see me cry if its as boring as suggested..:)

    • DrawnToBlack

      Definitely pick it up! It’s a great album.

  • MeatWolf

    This is the best Insomnium album to date and that’s pretty much all I have to say. Out to the Sea brings tears to my eyes.

  • Jeremiah J. Preisser

    Just listened to this a few times after picking it up at the records store. Your assessment is significantly better than all the fanboys who have rated this very highly. I really like Insomnium, but this album is the most average release they have. Simply put: it is less emotionally provocative, less diverse, less complex, and just less interesting. The addition of more solos is great, but the blast-beats add little musical value to the songs other than it’s different. The cleans vocals detract from the songs as well. Disappointing release, though I gave it a 3/5 because it is still above average compared to what other bands put out.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    After listening to the album several times, I must say this is my second major disagreemente with Steel Druhm after Amorphis’s “Circle” review, hehe. IMO, the new Insomnium is as good as the previous one, and just a little step below “Above the Weeping World”. I really love Insomnium’s mix of melodeath with Sentenced’s grim atmospheres and early Amorphis finnish mysticism. As long as they keep their personality alive, I feel no album of theirs can dissapoint me.

    In regards to comparissons with Omnium Gatherum, I do like OG but I think their sound is plain melodeath with not many layers. On the other hand, Insomnium has approaches to other styles and that melancholic vibe that IMO makes their sound richer.

  • DrawnToBlack

    I gotta say, I can’t agree with this review. I respect your view completely, but this album was a great progression for the band. I welcome the changes and feel that it helped keep things fresh!

  • Kreegwaldo

    To add an alternate perspective – I’ve never listened to an Insomnium album or song before ( not sure why, I knew of them just didn’t bother to youtube ), and for me, this album is pretty fucking awesome.

    The melody is incredible, catchy, consuming, I’m humming along out-loud without even thinking about it. When an album, or song, can make me do something like that I know it’s striking a chord with me ( pun sort-of intended ).

    I can see some people’s arguments – it’s similar in some ways to OG ( the tone of the acoustics in particular ), but it’s not what I would consider “heavy” as far as this sort of genre goes. Hell, I wouldn’t even really class this as “melo-death” but I don’t want to go down that whole classification clusterfuck.

    I guess my point is – on initial read I dismissed this weeks ago when this review first came out. I hadn’t listened to them before but this reads as a boring album so why bother? I’m glad I decided to youtube the album just now and it was an instant buy.

    As with everything – you have to take these reviews with a grain of salt and just listen to it yourself. Maybe even listen to it BEFORE you read the review if it’s already up on youtube or wherever. I can see why it was written the way that it was – if this album is just a boring repeat of everything they’ve already done then it’s nothing special. But for someone new to the band this album is phenomenal. As the first I’ve heard, now if I listen to the other, older, “better”, albums I’ll probably find THOSE boring.

    I had this same experience with the Chthonic Bu-Tik review awhile back – I dismissed the band/album because the review indicated it was more of the same and boring, but I listened to it randomly afterwards and I *loved* it.

  • Axel Razorback

    Since the founding member of Omnium Gatherum plays in Insomnium, I think there is no difference between these bands.

  • lurchblurch

    This whole review is basically “OMNIUM GATHERUMS BETTTERRRRR!”

    and I’m like “who now?”

    jk I know who they are but seriously OP, you’re an idiot. Acting like there’s some war between Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum fans tryna start some bullshit. Insomnium are melodeth legends, they helped pioneer that shit. Omnium Gatherum are a byproduct. That said, they do have some decent music too so shuddup, appreciate both, and quit writing biased as fuck articles.

    • Another in the long line of “if you disagree with my musical tastes you are an idiot” posts. Congrats.

    • Requiem

      ‘Biased review’ is a redundancy and as an attempt criticism it’s entirely vacuous. Art is subjective.

  • Meat Tornado

    Yeah, I completely 100% disagree with this review. I think they took the right path. Insomnium always exceeded most in the Gothic feely parts. I also can’t stand reviews that mourn “good old days”. Nobody is capable of reviewing albums on their own merit anymore. Besides, this is their best album hands down.

  • Sh0ck-wave

    Disagree. Primeval Dark, While we Sleep, Collapsing Worlds, Lost to Night, Promethean Song and Shadows of the Dying Sun are all epic .. even more so when played in that exact order. I can forgive every other song on this album being ‘meh’ because those songs are so good.