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Joensuu, Finland's Insomnium is a standard-bearer of melodic death metal. Their music is part of a tradition that includes other metallic subgenres like doom, folk, progressive, and dark metal. Their signature sound is identified by rich atmospherics, twinned lead guitar lines, lush harmonics, and a meld of harsh and clean vocals encompassing lyrical themes of sorrow, loss, pain, and a reverence for nature. Their many albums and singles, beginning with 2002's In the Halls of Awaiting, reveal that from the beginning, Insomnium's signature sound existed apart from the established and accepted Gothenburg model. The Finnish band's approach flows much more naturally, even when using tenets from power metal or old-school death metal to get a musical idea across. Their recordings, as exemplified by albums such as 2006's Above the Weeping World and 2011's One for Sorrow, are deeply imbued with seductive melodies and powerful emotions, entwined in intricate, almost-progressive instrumental interplay and a seamless meld of clean and dirty vocals. With relatively few lineup changes, their founding rhythm section, vocalist, and original guitarist are still in place. By the time they released 2016's Winter's Gate, they had become so influential that Finnish acts as diverse as Ghost Brigade, Wintersun, and Swallow the Sun cited them as forebears. The full-length Heart Like a Grave followed in 2019, and the Argent Moon EP appeared in 2021. Originally formed in 1997, the group released a pair of demos in 1999 and 2000 before signing a contract with England's Candlelight Records and making a full-length debut with 2002's In the Halls of Awaiting. Three additional albums -- Since the Day It All Came Down, Above the Weeping World, and Across the Dark -- followed in 2004, 2006, and 2009, respectively, and not only confirmed Insomnium's enduring passion for their chosen musical style, but also the integrity of their lineup, which consists of Niilo Sevänen (bass/vocals), Ville Friman (guitar), Ville Vänni (guitar), and Markus Hirvonen (drums). Vänni left after One for Sorrow -- their debut offering for Century Media in 2011 -- to become a surgeon. He was replaced by veteran Markus Vanhala. For 2016's Shadows of the Dying Sun, the band recruited Swallow the Sun keyboardist Aleksi Munter to assist on the date. After touring the festival circuit across the globe for the next two years, it became apparent that founding guitarist Ville Friman, who split his time between playing in the band and lecturing at York University, could not do both. Insomnium added third guitarist and vocalist Jani Liimatainen to the lineup; he'd already worked with the band extensively on tour. For 2019's Heart Like a Grave, Insomnium appeared as a quintet, with three guitar players adding an extra layer of melody, power, and atmosphere to their lush sound. Munter once again guested on keyboards. The recording drew massive global response critically and commercially -- arguably more than any of their previous releases. Insomnium planned a headlining American arena tour before COVID-19 hit, making that jaunt impossible. Instead, the band reassembled in 2021 and issued three singles -- "The Conjurer," The Reticent," and "The Antagonist." All featured guest Aleksi Munter on keyboards. In December, they released the four-song Argent Moon EP; it contained the three singles and added the complexly melodic fourth track "The Wanderer."
© Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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