HEART LIKE A GRAVE
Century Media Records
Release: October 4, 2019
The Finnish metal scene has many facets and aspects to it, being quite varied and fresh. And what Insomnium does, definitely adds to this variety and freshness. With their eighth studio album, “Heart like a Grave”, which was released on October 4, via Century Media, the band proves once again that their brand of melodic death metal, with deep touches of melancholy and wistfulness, is still a staple of the genre.
Talking about this album, the band commented the following: ''The concept of the album is to delve deep into the heart of the Finnish melancholy. We’ve been inspired by some of the bleakest and saddest songs, poems and tales that truly capture the essence of northern gloom. Land where the frost ravages the harvest and creeps inside the souls, summer ends before it even starts, wife leaves, little brother dies in snow on a Christmas morning, and the golden days of youth are forever gone. So there are echoes of Harmaja, Rautavaara, Vainio, ‘Peltoniemen Hintriikka’ and, of course, our own petty, miserable lives.”
Wail of the North
Pale morning star
And bells they toll
Mute is my sorrow
Heart like a grave
Showcasing both brutality and soulfulness, “Hears like a Grave” is quite a rollercoaster of emotions and sounds. I particularly love the way the sweetness of the piano and the gentleness of the acoustic guitar are used to cut the harshness of the (electric) guitars, the instruments working not only to complement each other but also to show this contrast that I mentioned earlier. And this juxtaposition is evident from the start, as “Wail of the North” opens on gentle piano notes that soon give way to a fury of drums, guitars and harsh vocals, while the piano melody is still audible under all these layers of harmony. It has a nice buildup to it, easing its way as it progresses and seamlessly bleeding into the rather catchy “Valediction”, which picks up the pace and gives more momentum to the album with a melodic guitar line and pounding drums. Ville Friman and Jani Liimatainen’s clean vocals sound resonant and deep, while Nilo Sevänen’s growls are brutal and intense.
The first thing I noticed while listening to this album are the acoustic intros to the majority of songs, as for instance as on progressive melodeath piece “Pale morning star”, the melancholy “Mute is my sorrow” or on the superb title track, as well as the acoustic mid-sections of such songs as the upbeat “Twilight trails” or the aggressive “The offering”, which are as soothing as they are refreshing. This blend of acoustic moments with heavier sections gives the music more edge and beauty, while adding not only variety and dynamism to the songs, but also texture and depth. And it’s a combination that works extremely well on this album. The use of piano melodies is also a big plus, as it helps balance the harshness of the guitars, bringing brightness and emotion to such songs as the hard-hitter albeit a doomy “And bells they toll” or the aforementioned “Wail of the North”.
On the full blown melodeath side of things, we have the relentless and fierce “Neverland” and “The offering”, which ramp up the heaviness a bit with grave, deep growls from Nilo Sevänen, intense backing instrumental, and an undertone of black metal. The title track “Heart like a grave” is a superb stand-out track, where the cleans and growls work as a duet to add thickness to the song, and the guitars sound sorrowful, adding a sense of wistfulness to the music. Closing track “Karelia” is a magnificent instrumental piece where the guitar melodies and harmonies drive the song forward, being very atmospheric and up-tempo at the same time.
Overall there is a good balance between everything as there are heavy and mellow passages, moody moments and fiercer sections with a neat pace and flow to them. This is high quality Finnish doomy gloomy melancholy metal music that will take the listener on a sonic journey through the Finnish wilderness. Just close your eyes and enjoy the ride. It’s worth it.
Rating: 9 / 10
Niilo Sevänen – Vocals and bass
Ville Friman – Guitars and vocals
Jani Liimatainen – Guitars and vocals
Markus Vanhala – Guitars
Markus Hirvonen – Drums