Insomnium
One for Sorrow


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward EMERITUS
October 13th, 2011 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Going home in another direction

It was not hard to guess what kind of album One for Sorrow was going to be simply by reading interviews with the members of this now-veteran Finnish melodic death metal band. Guitarist Ville Friman was adamant about his aggressive approach to the songwriting here, and it is impossible to listen to the album without realizing that Insomnium have removed heaps of the downtrodden, slow-moving arrangements in favor of a more streamlined approach to their music. Fortunately for them, One For Sorrow contains enough songwriting power to clot the wound created by axing, in large part, a critical aspect to their sound. The direction taken here is not a surprise by any means; in fact it seems a logical next step in the band’s course, a fix for those who like their melodic death metal aggressive, quick, thunderous, and most importantly, complex. The pieces are two sides of the same coin; the unabated ferocity taken out in “Only One Who Waits” complimenting the grandeur of “Song Of The Blackest Bird”, the latter of which was written by vocalist Niilo Sevänen in epic fashion but persuaded towards a more aggressive edge by Friman (“Only One Who Waits”, actually, had about two minutes lopped off the end by Friman in an attempt to also bring aggression to this track as well). Whether this is a wise decision is a matter of taste, but regardless of how you look at it Insomnium did the best they could possibly have done with the sound they chose.

Sevänen’s deep bellows benefit clearly from the attitude of the songwriting, and bite with a pressure not felt before in Insomnium’s past work – in part a testament to the excellent production placed on all of the instruments. “Decoherence” is a wonderful acoustic instrumental that fits in its spot with perfection, which makes it surprising to hear that this track was almost scrapped from the final cut of the album and demoted to a bonus track. Indeed, the acoustics throughout the album are well done and provide contrast to the loudness of the songwriting, but lack memorable hooks or don’t seem to be written to flood with emotion, at least in relation to their role in the band’s prior works. The acoustic-driven title track is a sorrowful (pun intended) piece that is the odd-man-out on the album in terms of composition, and is the best use by far of the new voice on the album: the clean vocals provided by Ville Friman. The clean vocals are partly used to my disdain as half of the cliché clean chorus, harsh verse pattern that comprises the single “Through The Shadows”. The difference between songs on One For Sorrow such as “Through The Shadows” or “Regain The Fire” and “Where The Last Wave Broke” from Across The Dark in this regard simply comes down to the competence of the vocalist, to which Jules Näveri has a massive advantage. Friman’s vocals, as much as it pains me to say, are simply not what are needed for soaring choruses to achieve their desired effect. Similarly, his voice pales in comparison to Näveri during verse singing, and despite their decency during “One For Sorrow” and “Lay The Ghost To Rest” one cannot help but think how much better two already great tracks could be had they used a better vocalist, or even referred back to Niilo’s whispering that used to be used in place of singing.

The presence of clean vocals are only a relatively small part of the album, though, and on the macro scale the band does a great job in securing an atmosphere through the use of countless winding guitar melodies, crushing chords, subtle synths and sweeping leads. Simple as many of their riffs may be, Insomnium know how to wield them to their fullest potential, and one only has to listen to the intro to “Unsung” and the ensuing onslaught of perhaps the heaviest verses Insomnium has ever written to realize the brilliance at hand. The band has cast aside grandiose melodic leads in favor of more intricate layered riffing that carries a wave of fresh air into the atmosphere, but unfortunately these riffs cannot match their counterparts in terms of sheer emotion – a crucial aspect of Insomnium’s allure. The decaying of their plodding, doom-influenced epics (this is the only Insomnium album without a song over eight and a half minutes) is partially avenged by the inclusion of the album’s clear nod to this sound in “Lay The Ghost To Rest”, as well as a tightening of their faster riffing that had appeared at times sloppy in the past; the album does not falter in providing copious amounts of well-written material to digest in a short period of time. There is a very out-of-character guitar solo provided by Dark Tranquillity bassist Daniel Antonsson at the conclusion of “Only One Who Waits” and a surging orchestral arrangement courtesy of Aleksi Munter of Swallow The Sun during the interlude of “Every Hour Wounds” to add character to an album that at times leaves no room for it.

Given the strength of the songwriting, the direction taken by Insomnium on One For Sorrow isn’t as big of a problem as it may have been had they taken a more two-dimensional approach. There is hardly any filler present here, with only “Regain The Fire” standing out as a subpar inclusion. Every other song has a purpose in relation to the whole, and in a sense the ferocity of the album makes the elegant portions that much more impacting. “Lay The Ghost To Rest” and “Decoherence” play beautifully off each other, and the deep snarls gain traction between the rhythm’s heaviness and the interwoven melodies. One For Sorrow may be bereft of a tangible soul, but whatever faint heartbeat lies at the core of these compositions is displayed when taken in from a distance – this is a cohesive unit, an album in the sense that it sounds different, sounds shallow, when taken in pieces. I can’t say that the third-dimension added to Insomnium’s sound on One For Sorrow benefits the emotional impact of the record, but I can say that it slyly changes the sound of a band that aren’t ones to forsake their roots.



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user ratings (687)
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Trey STAFF (4)
Insomnium have crafted their most diverse and complete album to date. Just about everything has been...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Emeritus
October 13th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Points I took home from this album:



- I like Niilo's songwriting better than Ville's

- This band should not have clean vocals

- Different isn't necessarily better

- The synths are very good on this album



And a few others. "Lay The Ghost To Rest" is my clear favorite here aside from "Decoherence".

AliW1993
October 13th 2011


7511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice review - but I don't think your first sentence reads right... it seems to switch tenses?

Crysis
Emeritus
October 13th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It does, you're right. Will fix up it now. Thanks.

AliW1993
October 13th 2011


7511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha I thought it might be some sort of smart intro I was too stupid to understand.



Awesome review, though. I've never listened to their earlier stuff but I really liked this, and I'm not much of a death metal fan.

Tyrael
October 13th 2011


21108 Comments


- This band should not have clean vocals

But I really liked the cleans on Where The Last Wave Broke from Across The Dark :[

Anyways, awesome review as I was expecting from you.

Crysis
Emeritus
October 13th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

But I really liked the cleans on Where The Last Wave Broke from Across The Dark :[


They were better on "Lay of the Autumn" but I'd really just prefer them not to be there.



@Ali- Thanks man, appreciate it.

Ire
October 13th 2011


41945 Comments


review sucks

Crysis
Emeritus
October 13th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

let's do er

Ire
October 13th 2011


41945 Comments


out of beer i told you ugh dont you ever listen

seedofnothing
October 14th 2011


3422 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Whether this is a wise decision is a matter of taste, but regardless of how you look at it Insomnium did the best they could possibly have done with the sound they chose."



I feel like there should be a comma behind Insomnium.



"The wonderful acoustic instrumental “Decoherence” fits in its spot with perfection, which makes it surprising to hear that this track was almost scrapped from the final cut of the album and demoted to a bonus track."



Commas before and after Decoherence



I enjoyed your review but do not feel that Insomnium can yeild their riffs to their strongest potential as the transition of riffs on this album did not mesh with previous efforts

Crysis
Emeritus
October 14th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Commas before and after Decoherence


Don't think that's correct. You wouldn't say "The classic book, The Lord of the Rings, is an epic work of fantasy" unless you referred to its title previously in the paragraph and are referencing it again.

seedofnothing
October 14th 2011


3422 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

maybe it should read



"Decoherence" is a wonderful acoustic instrumental, cohesively....



sounds better that way imo

Crysis
Emeritus
October 14th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Was thinking that myself.

Darkvoid67
October 14th 2011


383 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Song of the Blackest Bird" is easily the best song here. The second half I found to be very dull compared to the first half, but that's just me

KILL
October 14th 2011


81503 Comments


great review

Vesper
October 14th 2011


3085 Comments


Still think my analogy for this album was sufficient, haha, but good review, as usual. Pos'd!

Crysis
Emeritus
October 14th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

should put that in as a footnote or something but i feel it would wreck the flow

Vesper
October 14th 2011


3085 Comments


Here, I'll repost it so it shows on the first page of this review's comments AND you can retain your reviewing cred, lol.

Crysis's feelings regarding "Only One Who Waits" (and general axing of longer, doomy songs), as interpreted by Vesper:

"Could have been seven minutes of doomy sex, but you got a three minute, unfinished handjob instead. But it was still hot."

Crysis
Emeritus
October 14th 2011


17593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^^^^^^^

Ire
October 14th 2011


41945 Comments


?



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