'Shadows Of The Dying Sun'
'Shadows Of The Dying Sun' is the sixth studio release from Finland's melodic death Metal quartet Insomnium since their inception in 1997.
The major change since their previous release is the departure of long time guitarist Ville Vänni shortly before their 'One For Sorrow' tour at the end of 2011 and his replacement by new guitarist Markus Vanhala, which surprisingly hasn't made too much difference to the overall sound of the band, apart from a subtle variance in the style of some of the guitar work, particularly at the end of 'Revelation', an otherwise classically styled Insomnium track and one of my favourites on the album.
On this release, they continue with their melancholic, sorrow filled compositions that, despite their apparent bleakness, still harbour an upbeat positivity, coming from that classic mix of sombre deep vocals and intense yet up tempo, positive guitars.
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The only tiny element that doesn't bode well with me is the small amount of clean singing, I am not a big fan of cleans and when they were introduced on 2009s 'Across The Dark' they were covered by Jules Näveri (Profane Omen) but on the previous release 'One For Sorrow' and this latest offering the cleans have been covered by guitarist Ville Friman and whist they are okay, if I have to listen to cleans, I prefer those done by Jules.
The rest of the aspects to the album I can't fault, Niilo Sevänen's vocals are superb as always and the tried tested Insomnium trademarks are there in abundance; the intense chugging riffs overlaid by reflective melodic guitar work at the core of all the tracks and reflective drop-away overlaid with spoken or whispered, harsh vocals.
Some of the tracks are more intense and dark compared to others, on this and on previous releases, as with opener 'The Primeval Dark', a great opening track with an extended intro and 'Black Heart Rebellion', a slow melancholic song with some intense blackened riff work which is also excellent.
Most of the album made a very positive impression on me, 'Collapsing Words' with its fast tempo and perfect balance between the harsh vocals and melodic elements, 'The River' which has a blackened feel to the opening riffs, an element that is regularly revisited across the track and completed with brutally magnificent, deep harsh vocals and also 'Ephemeral', previously released as a single but with a slightly different version featured here and is the most memorable and catchy track of the album.
'While We Sleep', 'Lose To Night', 'The Promethean Song', were my least favourite because of the clean vocals, however the title and final track, 'Shadows Of The Dying Sun' was one exception where the cleans worked well in their role as a backing to the harsh vocals, a great album closer with a bass led opener that builds gradually with the arrival harsh spoken and melodic guitars, but remaining a slower reflective number.
I like the clean simple monochromatic artwork for the cover, cleverly understated and once again created by 'Ghost Brigade' guitarist Wille Naukkarinen who also created the art work for 'Across The Dark' and 'One For Sorrow'.
Despite me having a minor grumble about the cleans, 'Shadows Of The Dying Sun', is fundamentally a good release and they have managed to maintain a consistently high standard across it as well as across their previous five releases which is quite an achievement.
If you enjoyed their previous albums you will be more than happy with this one.