I'm really not sure if I have ever heard a debut album this mind-blowing, this unexpected. Insomnium made me wonder how I ever could have loved Melodic Death without hearing them. Really though, any person who enjoys Melodic Death Metal or similar genres will have to take a serious look at In The Halls Of Awaiting
. I believe this album to be second only to their second album, Since The Day It All Came Down
, yet this one shines because of the originality. Before hearing this, I never heard this kind of metal played this way, with fierce, growling death vocals on top of highly melodic, intricate riffing coupled with soft, placid acoustic passages. The vocals are lower, more unrefined, and perhaps even better than bands like Dark Tranquillity or In Flames. I know I personally enjoy them more.
The CD opens with "Ill Starred Son". It will take you no more than one listen to know exactly what In the Halls of the Awaiting is all about. If you don't figure it out on "Ill Starred Son," you will for sure on the next mind blower, "Song Of The Storm". This song has a beautiful, yet heavy riff to open it, before being torn open my Niilo's crushing vocals. There are also riff changes aplenty, with enough different leads to make even the pickiest of metalheads rejoice.
"Medeia" begins with 45 seconds of awesome guitar work before we are yet again ambushed by the inhuman shout of Niilo, but this track, along with many others, incorporate a haunting whisper for a few verses, which adds a brooding and melancholic feel to the entire CD, and the lonely and ominous album artwork (which I must say I absolutely love) just packs some more punch. Only a band from the swamps of Finland can do it this way.
"The Elder" is also another highlight of the CD, with overpowering riffs and the chugging growl Insomnium is widley known for. "Black Water" continues the furious pace, and "Shades of Deep Green" has easily the best outro I've heard.
The closure of this CD is not to be forgotten, with the 11 minute epic of "In The Halls Of Awaiting". I've never heard a band nail the long songs with such relentless force, the only one which even comes close is Opeth. This song should be a model for almost all metal bands to use, on how to master the long player. If you are going to do an 11 minute song, you have to keep it varied and interesting, without losing the heaviness throughout the entire song, which Insomnium has done without flaw in this track.
Sure, some people may be turned off by the death-like growls of Niilo, but I thought that just added to the originality of this album, one which shouldn't be overlooked by any fan of the genre. I'd recommend starting off your trek into the world of Insomnium with this CD, because if you enjoy this one, you will no doubt enjoy the other 2. This one is easily in my top favorite CD's, and there is no excuse not to give this a listen.