I am a huge melodic death metal fan. I am even what you might call a connoisseur. Anytime I hear that a new melodic death metal album is about to drop, I begin to salivate and know that I absolutely must check it out. Seeing as a couple of other metal websites had the new Insomnium album high on their lists of the best metal albums of 2014 so far, even before it was officially released, I began to get really excited. This album was going to be awesome right? I couldn’t have been more wrong and disappointed. Either these two websites heard something different than I did or they were just guessing that the album would be good based on a couple of songs the band released ahead of time.
When bands like At The Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and Carcass pioneered this metal subgenre in the early to mid 1990’s, it was meant to be a somewhat melodic form of death metal. In other words much of death metal’s brutality remained including harsh guttural vocals, blast beat and/or vigorous double bass drumming and speedy tempos. Slight elements of NWOBHM, mostly harmonized guitar riffs, were added in giving this normally brutal music a slightly more melodious feel. These bands meant for the melodic portion to complement the death metal elements, not overshadow them. As years went on, a few of the newer school melodic death metal bands and even some of the originators began to rely way too much on the harmonized riffs causing the melodic portions to begin taking over the songs more and more. More recently some bands even began adding in clean vocals. All of this combined was giving this once heavier music a much more mainstream melodic metalcore feel.
Unfortunately this is the trap that Insomnium’s sixth album Shadows Of The Dying Sun fell into. For a good majority of the album, I felt like I was listening to an As I Lay Dying record. Believe me I have nothing against those guys, sans Tim Lambesis trying to kill his wife, but this was not the excellent melodic death metal album I was expecting. This album is fraught with overdone guitar harmonization, production values and bad melodic metal cliches. There are also just way too many instances of clean vocals. Twice I thought the album might be saved when I heard the tracks “Black Heart Rebellion” and “Collapsing Words”, but unfortunately that was where the positives ended. Everything else featured here has been done to death by every popular melodic metal band you can think of. Don’t get me wrong, all the songs are certainly listenable and feature some solid musicianship, but if you are looking for a great melodic death metal album, Shadows Of The Dying Sun is not it. If you want to grab a newer album by a band that still understands how it’s supposed to be done, check out Carcass’ 2013 album Surgical Steel. Maybe I am way off base here, so you be the judge. Check out the free stream of the album below and give us your thoughts in the comments section. I think many of you will agree with me.
Here are some melodic death metal albums, new and old, that we would recommend checking out: