Review Summary: "If you aren’t banging your head profusely by now, you’re deaf. "
Recently I started probing into the melodic death metal scene more thoroughly. Prominent outfits such as In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Soilwork were recommended to me, but I already knew those bands. Subsequently I stumbled upon a band called Insomnium, with their album: Above The Weeping World. I was relatively intrigued and acquired the album. Nonchalantly I started listening, completely oblivious of the serendipity the purchase had been...
Insomnium is a melodic death metal band hailing from Finland, this is their third studio album.
The album kicks off with the sound of drizzling rain in coalition with a melancholic piano melody. This rather sombre opening passage lasts for roughly 45 seconds, its raw emotion is almost contagious. After 45 seconds the first guitar lick takes over. The riff follows the pattern of the piano passage and is simply epic. It’s an instrumental track, however, it contains a spoken line halfway into the track, "When it rains, it pours like hell." The aforementioned line is followed by a punishing guttural growl, the drums start pounding and the riff's intensity increases. Welcome to Insomnium. This ingenious opener is just a wisp of the lavish proficiency Insomnium possess.
After the first song your ears are immediately assaulted by the second track's opening riff. All too voracious to captivate you, and captivate it does. There is an almost conspicuous contrast present, the depressive melancholy of the first track versus the urgency and speed of the second track’s opening riff. This is just one of many intricacies that Insomnium will throw at you. Mortal Share’s head bang inducing riff, accompanied by a matching bassline and thumping drums, make for an euphoric opening passage of one minute, it's just then that the vocalist decides to start clobbering you in the face with his potent vocal performance. He has a typical death metal growl, but there is something inexplicable, something subtle, that makes his vocal performance just as sumptuous as the instrumentation. Disregarding its lack of acoustic and progressive passages, the second track is a perfect encapsulation of this album: riffs bustling with emotion and brutality, skillful bass, thunderous drumming and a vocalist spawned in the depths of hell.
The inordinately melodic riffs are unyielding, every single track features a memorable riff or hook. I gave the second track numerous listens, wallowing in its magnificence, reluctant to forsake the album's premature culmination. How wrong I was. I soon learned that each track is a culmination in itself. Insomnium's progressive tendencies are evident in songs like Change Of Heart, At The Gates Of Sleep, The Killjoy, and In The Groves Of Death. These progressive passages, mainly consisting of acoustic guitar picking and spoken vocals, always seem to emerge at appropriate times, sustaining or even glorifying the specific song's emotion or mood.
The first track I mentioned, Change Of heart, is undoubtedly one of the best melodeath songs I've ever had the honor of listening to. It commences with a melancholic acoustic passage that is followed by a breathtaking riff. A riff that will instantly grab you by the throat and fling you into a musical utopia known as Above The Weeping World. If you aren’t banging your head profusely by now, you’re deaf. The riff is as goosebump-inducing as it is head bang inducing, the emotion Insomnium are able to evoke is almost frightening. The epic riff nails you until the vocalist makes himself heard, an equally impressive guitar hook starts to play in coalesce with the vocals. The opening riff luckily returns and the emotion and brutality envelops your senses, you become one with the music, and it is... celestial
There are a few guitar solos, nothing overly technical, instead accentuating emotion. The aforementioned is this album’s one indispensable quality: emotion, and an abundance of it. Devoid Of Caring is a perfect example, the ending of the song is a slow, emotional build up. A breathtaking piece of music. There just isn’t any other word than epic to the describe the riffing. Whether it is the urgent and energetic riffs of Mortal Share, the sublime hooks of Change Of Heart or the cheerful melodic riffing of The Killjoy, the riffs never cease to amaze. Like I have mentioned, the songwriting is flawless, acoustic sections are placed sporadically and never feel unsolicited. No song ever feels tedious or interminable, even the final track: In The Groves Of Death, mesmerizes you for its lengthy 10 minutes. Everything flows together seamlessly, forming the well oiled machine known as Above The Weeping World.
Insomnium produce an eerily melancholic album, yet brutality features amply. They hardly set a food wrong on Above The Weeping World, this is an album I won’t forget soon. The album is surprisingly accessible, I’d recommend it to just about anyone.