Sunday, December 21, 2014

#7 of my Top 12 Albums of 2014: Shadows of the Dying Sun

Insomnium's Shadows of the Dying Sun

Release Date: April 25th, 2014
Label: Century Media
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

     Earlier this year, a dear friend of mine passed away after being the victim of a car crash.  I did not have the pleasure of knowing her for too long, as I met her only a year and a half ago, but in that time she grew to be one of my closest friends and someone I talked to almost daily. I had just been talking to her the day prior about visiting each other this winter season and in the spring of 2015 and after the incident occurred, I shut myself off from just about everyone for a couple weeks and I even refrained from making any sort of announcement on my Facebook page because I knew my simple words could not do justice to her memory, as is the case now.  During that time, I turned to music, as I normally do in times of sorrow, and tried listening to something that would cheer me up, but nothing would do the trick, so I actually started listening to the sadder-sounding tunes, despite the fact that I normally try to be happier rather than wallowing in sadness, not moving forward though I should.  Regardless, that is what happened and I can't do anything about it now.  The music I found that helped me were two albums released this year: Triptykon's Melana Chasmata and Insomnium's Shadows of the Dying Sun, the latter being my favorite and the most fascinating to me.

     Shadows of the Dying Sun came out early this year in April but it must have drifted over my radar because I did not get a hold of it until October/November.  It is Insomnium's sixth album to-date and their first since 2011's One For Sorrow and, like all Insomnium albums, was very well-received by critics.  The reason it was appropriate for me is because almost all of their lyrics have to do with concepts of loss and loneliness, of darkness and the pain from all the emotions contained within the human soul.  Unlike many bands from the emo-era, when just about every alternative band of any genre was trying to portray the depressions of teenage angst, Insomnium's lyrics are actually incredibly well written, and probably the key selling point to the band in general.  The music is very good as well, particularly the guitar work of Markus and Ville, and helps convey sadness via metal sound, but the band would not be as incredible as they are without their astounding lyrics.  For example, check out one of the choruses for their single "While We Sleep," off of Shadows of the Dying Sun:

And we drift far away in our dreams
Gather further distance while we sleep
Build a wall of glass thick and deep
We hear but choose not to listen

And we drift far away in our dreams
Gather further distance while we sleep
Set all the bridges in flaming fire
Leave all the love we had behind

     Damn.  I wish I could write as well as Ville and Niilo, the two primary songwriters in the band as well as the vocalists, clean and harsh, respectively.  Now, listen to the song these lyrics are a part of, and feel the emotion conveyed by every element of the song:

"While We Sleep"

     The fact that Insomnium is also a Melodic Death Metal band only helps them, as it lets them convey anger and depression almost simultaneously, and the duet between the clean and harsh vocals opens up a lot of avenues that other genres do not have access to, such as a dialogue between two people, particularly if one is more aggressive than the other, or a dialogue between one person and him/herself.  Even more obviously, it can show how irrational emotions and the human being itself can be by quickly changing between the clean and harsh vocals.  Insomnium takes this versatility and runs wild with it, creating track after depressing track, though these songs are not so depressing that you'll never want to hear them again, they are just enough that you can listen and silently remember or relate.  Many, to my chagrin somewhat, are not tracks you sing along to, these are ones that you put on and just sit and listen.  I mean, sure, you could sing/growl along to the songs but it just doesn't feel right and you probably won't get the full brunt of emotion put forth by Shadows of the Dying Sun.  I am not saying how you should listen to the album, but that's just how I think the album is supposed to be considered.

"Lose To Night"

     "Lose To Night" is probably my favorite track on the album, and the one I latched on to the most.  It discusses the relationship between two people by comparing it to the fight that warriors may engage in, one that has lost its purpose and being and has grown into some other sort of monster, one that grew on the deaths of "All the graceful," or everything they had that was actually good.  The person saying everything in the song though seems to have accepted this fate, saying that he is done with the tears and has accepted that everything must fade away in time, and that the time has come for this relationship, whatever kind it may be, to fade as well, despite the fact that he is still sad that it has come to this point.  Its a very depressing song with rock-solid lyrics, a nice keyboard foundation, flowing guitar chords like the tears you may shed listening to this, and a great juxtaposition of singers.  Many song on the album are as good as "Lose To Night," including "The Promethean Song" and "Collapsing Worlds," that have just as good lyrics, so if you are not too great with picking out the words from hearing them, I suggest listening through this album and reading the lyrics as you go, you won't be disappointed.


     This really was the year for Melodeath and Insomnium was another one of the stand-out acts, creating yet another solid album filled with all the depression and darkness anyone could ever ask for, though making sure not to go too overboard that it is silly or just pitiful.  Many have compared them to the Melodeath giant Dark Tranquility, which is an adequate comparison given the themes and the styles, but with Dark Tranquility's recent albums not holding up to their older stuff in the 90's and early 2000's, i'll accept another band taking up their mantle as emotional masters of the dark (And hey, they are on tour together, so they also know their similarity enough and are okay with it, so no complaining).  Shadows is a fantastic album through-and-through and its not any higher simply because of my preference for happier and upbeat music, as this is MY Top 2014 and not the albums that I think are the best from this year.  If I had to make that list, I am sure Shadows would be in the top 2, for sure.  Get it.

Click here for Insomnium's official website
Click here for Insomnium's official Facebook page
Click here to buy Shadows of the Dying Sun from iTunes
Click here to buy Shadows of the Dying Sun from Amazon.

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