Insomnium
Across the Dark


3.0
good

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
August 7th, 2009 | 266 replies | 33,873 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Insomnium are back with more of the same. Same melodies, same riffs - no surprises.

If contentment leads to laziness and laziness leads to stagnation than the guys in Insomnium must be extremely proud of themselves. Early in their career, the band found a sound that mixed melodic leads, doom-inspired riffs, a melancholic/epic atmosphere, and death metal vocals. It wasn’t exactly a new or unique sound, but on their debut they were doing it better than most. It was at this early point in their career that they were apparently satisfied with their progress because every album since has been a near rehash of that same sound. Sure, their melodies have become a little more fluid and their songwriting skills have incrementally improved, but basically this band have never changed. Insomnium have remained so static that even when word got out that Across the Dark featured some actual changes, fans and naysayers alike were skeptical.

It turns out that the skepticism was completely warranted because the changes are few and mostly inconsequential. The band still focuses their songs around cyclic melodic guitar leads and the underlying riffs are still doom-inspired and under utilized. The main change comes from the band’s decision to make the songs simpler and easier to digest. One way this was accomplished was by removing the layers of melodic leads that had been becoming more prominent. Instead, the melodies are now delivered by a single guitar (generally) which provides them much more room to breathe. Also, the structures themselves don’t feature as many transitions allowing the songs a more consistent feel overall. Possibly in order to make up for the lack of melodic layers, the band have infused every song with a subtle coating of synth that ebbs and flows with the music without ever overwhelming it.

Of course, the main change being discussed is the band’s utilization of clean singing but it’s not really that big of a deal. Absolutely no effort was put into doing anything with this new element except for the clichéd use of singing in the choruses and growling at all other times. “Lay of Autumn” is an exception to this rule, but the clean singing on that song is brief and almost feels tacked on. In fact, the clean singing throughout the entire album is limited to just a handful of songs, and all of those instances are brief and fairly insignificant. The band’s primary vocals are still the same death growls that they’ve been using for over a decade, and they’re still the main problem area. Insomnium’s death metal vocals have always lacked any real personality, and that hasn’t changed here. They still lack aggression, emotion or variation and almost come off as “conversational” in delivery. The vocals aren’t exactly a negative, but they’re also definitely not a positive.

At this point, the band’s main attraction is the fact that they’re predictable. This means that fans of their previous releases (that can ignore the lack of anything new), will most certainly find something to love about this album – and there really are enjoyable aspects. Without the overwhelming amount of layering, the melodies feel more direct and subsequently have a stronger impact on the songs. Also, with fewer transitions the songs are able to more easily flow and create a memorable impact on the listener. The only thing this album is really lacking (besides original ideas) is a standout track such as “The Killjoy” from the previous album (although a few do come close – “Down With the Sun”). The problem is that despite these qualities, this album still suffers from an intangible “frustration” factor due to basically recycling the same ideas for the fourth time in a row.

The songs on Across the Dark might be as strong as anything on previous albums, but the truth is that it’s getting old. This stale quality is only made worse by the fact that their sound was never original to begin with. The band’s streamlining of their formula does make for songs that are stronger and more concise, but that can only take them so far. In the other direction there is the complete waste of time that the clean vocals end up being and the frustrating feeling of having heard this album before – even during the initial listen. The album’s lack of a truly standout track only serves to further make this album nonessential to all but the most hardcore of fans (or newcomers to the band). Really, that’s what it comes down to – hardcore fans will eat this up but for anyone else this album is simply well-played yet unremarkable.



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user ratings (445)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Benjamino Jackanory (4)
A journey through darkness; powerful, well-orchestrated, and with a palpable depth...

AcillateM (4.5)
It's beauty and brutal, exciting and relaxing. Insomnium hits the right atmosphere and fulfils this ...

ChildOfHate (3.5)
Insomnium try to go the DT way.....and ALMOST pull it off......

fireaboveicebelow (2)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
August 7th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

It's not released until September 2nd (digitally), but since it's a slow week...

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Athom
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2009



17117 Comments


agree 100 percent.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

FadeToBlack
August 7th 2009



10913 Comments


Nice review, I still haven't listened to this, but I don't really like Insomnium as much as I used to; their albums are pretty boring now imo

BallsToTheWall
August 7th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Agreed. Album blows.

TricksterGRex
August 7th 2009



2087 Comments


good review if a little generous on the rating

Willie
Moderator
August 7th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Well, I mean it is entertaining for what it is... and it's better than average, just not by much.

Hawks
August 7th 2009



33363 Comments


Nice review like always Willie. Not gonna check this out because Insomnium bores the shit out of me.

TricksterGRex
August 7th 2009



2087 Comments


rightfully so hawks rightfully so

Eakflanderyof
August 7th 2009



2143 Comments


Yeah, back in the day I liked these guys for about a month, but really they're pretty boring and the review is spot-on. They make the same song over and over and they've recycled some of their own melodies. If these guys tried to change things up a bit and throw in some unexpected songwriting they could be pretty good.

If I remember correctly Equivalence does start off really epic, though, but spirals into boredom.

zaruyache
August 7th 2009



4811 Comments


I thought you weren't allowed to submit reviews for albums that weren't released yet for legally streamed on the internet?

Digging: Paramnesia - Paramnesia

BallsToTheWall
August 7th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

The Staff can do whatever the "fuck" they want.

fireaboveicebelow
August 7th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

if the staff can do it...deal with it

Willie
Moderator
August 7th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

The nicer version of Balls' answer is that we can post reviews for albums we got promos for whenever we want (I got this about three weeks before it leaked)... but unfortunately that doesn't mean that others can too.

fireaboveicebelow
August 7th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

edited

OllieS
August 7th 2009



2024 Comments


I know it doesn't make the record any better but in these guys' defence they probably don't think about progressing much musically and just have a kicking time writing songs and playing 'em. Review was excellent as always.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2009



15990 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So yeah I completely, 100% disagree but I'll leave it at that because I'll get flak because I actually like this band. Opinions aren't allowed on Sputnik.

Digging: Thergothon - Stream From The Heavens

fireaboveicebelow
August 7th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

opinions with a purpose are allowed

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2009



15990 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

opinions with a purpose are allowed

Opinions which go along with everyone else's are the only ones allowed. You should know this by now.

Willie
Moderator
August 7th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Opinions which go along with everyone else's are the only ones allowed. You should know this by now.
If you look at the ratings and soundoffs, I think your opinion will end up being the majority here in Sputnik. Even if it's not, who cares? Let me know what you think.
But there are a load of riffs on here that just don't sound like Insomnium riffs at all.
Insomnium's riffs have never been their strong point, that's for sure.

BallsToTheWall
August 7th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

The Killjoy had killer riffage. But that's the only Insomnium song I consistently listen too.



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