You know it's a good year for metal when Insomnium release a new album. It's often said that the only people who don't like Insomnium are people who haven't heard Insomnium, and One For Sorrow doesn't seem set to change that any time soon.
Right from the off this is immediately recognisable as an Insomnium record, from the whispered, almost instrumental opening track to the heavy yet intricate melodies. Not wishing to rest on their laurels, while still maintaining their signature sound, there are some interesting additions.
The first, and most notable, variation is an interesting play on clean vocals in a death metal album. The clean vocals overlay the deep and resonating growls making for a menacing and certainly unsettling sound. This technique is used several times and always works well. The rest of the time the vocals are pure growl, as can be expected, nay, demanded from a band so firmly entrenched in the melodic death genre.
The other new thing is a purely instrumental track that seems to be the antithesis of Insomnium; Decoherence is so tranquil and gentle I have dozed off while listening to it, only to nearly jump out of my skin at the opening bars of Lay The Ghost To Rest.
The rest of the album is loosely based around One For Sorrow, a traditional rhyme steeped in superstition. The subject and lyrics of the rhyme vary from place to place, but it is always based around crows, magpies, jackdaws or blackbirds, the number of which tell the fortune of the beholder. The rhyme goes up to ten birds, and so there are ten tracks (well, eleven on the limited edition). Each one explores something new, although the link between the song and the matching line from the rhyme isn't always obvious.
It's almost impossible to be disappointed with this album. I'm sure some would have liked more progression, or at least more variety, but this album represents more a honing of a style than a departure from one. If you like Insomnium, you will like One For Sorrow. And if you don't, then you obviously haven't heard them yet.