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Shadows Of The Dying Sun

Century Media (2014)
Rating: 7/10

Three years short of being in the business for some 20 years, Finland’s Insomnium have consistently thrown out solid melodic rock records. Shadows Of The Dying Sun is their sixth outing.

I’ve only experienced a couple of their records – those being the 2002 debut In The Halls Of Awaiting and 2011’s One For Sorrow – but I’ve always rather enjoyed the epic nature of their enormous sound. This is mainly due to the fact that in spite of being well polished, clinical metal, the vocals of Niilo Sevänen have the ability to rise from these frothing waters as if they were words cast from the mouth of some nature god.

Now, melodic metal of this stature is something I can honestly live without, but if one isn’t exposed to this sort of metal too often, when it does come along it can make for quite a refreshing experience.

This ten-track affair is crisp, weighty, majestic and, above all, grandiose in its statement. As one has come to expect from Insomnium, the musicianship is faultless and the melodies come thick and fast through the showers of icy solos and solid percussion. Vocally, Sevänen is a true beast of a frontman, and his presence dominates the album as he barks tales of primeval darkness, lost love and spiritual pathways. Of course, his words would have no meaning were it not for the stirring guitar work of Markus Vanhala, who gives the album a feel of classical prowess as his progressive chords add extra weight and atmosphere to the likes of ‘While We Sleep’ which, for all of its metal punch, is still progressive rock at its best.

It’s arguable too that Shadows Of The Dying Sun boasts some of Markus Hirvonen’s best percussion, or certainly the best I’ve heard. With the extra clean vocal forays of Sevänen, the album seems to boast more variation than on previous efforts.

Insomnium are all about melody, and they combine such harmony with deathlier forays and darker edges coupled with the fantastic production. Those of you who like rich, cascading metal of a powerful nature will enjoy this progressive composition which is at ease, whether supplying showers of weight or an almost melancholic air. There is a subtlety throughout which gives the record a strange yet breezy air; such injections of delicacy come via the gushing strains of ‘Revelation’ with its flecks of fragility, while with ‘Black Heart Rebellion’, there is a colder atmosphere akin to a layer of chilly fog drifting across an ashen forest.

So, while pretty and intricate at its heart, this new piece of work is one of many layers. While I’m far from being an expert in this sort of metal, I cannot help but become absorbed by its power.

Neil Arnold

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