Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave (Century Media)Wednesday, 2nd October 2019
Over the course of this decade (and parts of the last one as well), Insomnium have rising up to be one of the premier sources of melodic death metal. Their rainy-day approach that combines touching melodies and moments of somewhat folk-y uplift in an overall epic package is one that they’ve spent a bit of time really investing in. Even with their last album, Winter’s Gate, which was one long song – it felt like Insomnium, and no one else. So it goes almost without say that Heart Like a Grave carries the same accolades.
While some argue the case of simply providing new material sometimes not being enough (something this scribe is definitely guilty of), in the case of Insomnium, it’s really all that is needed. There’s really no other band that tackles this particular style with the same level of finesse and charisma, and Heart Like a Grave has all that we’ve come to expect from Insomnium. From the mesmorizing opening track, “Wail of the North,” a typical Insomnium-esque prelude that fits the bill and really grabs your attention with it’s gorgeous riffs and slow-build. “Valediction” captures the band at their most ‘rocking’ – meaning that it pulls in some effective clean vocals in a glorious sounding chorus that is sure to get crowds moving when they play it live, and an equally catchy gallop that still manages to grab at some sorrow between stomping rhythms. Later on, “The Offering” provides a similar rush in tempo, giving the listener a jolt before some longer and gloomier tracks settle in. That said, the three 7-minute cuts round out the album, but never deter it in the slightest. They seem to take the listener on a bit of a trip in and of themselves, going from the most punchy (“Twilight Trails”) to the dreamiest and most introspective of the bunch (“Karelia”). The title track in between seems to straddle the line, drenched in both beaming melodies and some elements of longing.
Ultimately, Heart Like a Grave simply delivers an hour’s worth of breathtaking melodies and songs. There’s no tricks or huge advances in the band’s sound, but Insomnium have worked hard to carve out a certain niche for themselves within melodic death metal, and understand exactly what works for them as a band.