Published on November 13th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Insomnium: Heart Like A Grave (Century Media, 2019)
There are some bands whose output is so consistently impressive that expectations are naturally quite high when they deliver a new album. Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium has long been one of those bands. That level of pressure is only amplified when the album in question follows such an epic and ambitious undertaking as their 40-minute, single-song 2016 masterpiece Winter’s Gate. Is it even possible to match, let alone exceed, an album like that? Insomnium answers that question definitively with their eighth album Heart Like A Grave.
This time around the band brought back Teemu Aalto to produce the album and enlisted Jens Bogren to mix and master it. Given Bogren’s track record with all things heavy and melodic and atmospheric, it’s only a surprise that they waited this long to bring him in. The album also boasts the arrival of none other than Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, The Dark Element, ex-Sonata Arctica) on guitars and clean vocals.
Heart Like A Grave gets back to the traditional album format, with ten new songs rather than a single epic composition. It’s no less effective though. Insomnium has this gift for serving up the most captivating and enjoyable melodies and somehow maintaining an atmosphere of melancholy that makes you almost feel guilty about how much you’re rocking out. It’s like a doom metal aesthetic in a melodic death metal setting, and it works really well. The atmosphere on this one is absolutely huge, as is the overall sense of heaviness. The clean vocals are used sparingly and to great effect, but Niilo Sevanen’s massive growls are what really resonate on both a primal and emotional level.
Every single song on Heart Like A Grave connects. All of them; even the brief introductory “Wail Of The North” and the instrumental closer “Karelia.” If you’re looking for tracks that stand out on an already standout album, “Pale Morning Star,” “Mute Is My Sorrow” and the monster title track get the job done and ought to be more than enough to convince any fence-sitters.
Insomnium just keeps getting better and better. At this point they’re the perfect blend of Dark Tranquillity in their prime (which is arguably now) and Katatonia in theirs (which isn’t now). Heart Like A Grave immediately earns a spot in the “best Insomnium album” debate as well as a place on the “best of 2019” list. It’s a must-have for fans of Dark Tranquillity, Omnium Gatherum, Words Of Farewell, Mors Principium Est and Daylight Dies.
Edition Notes: There is a limited artbook CD version of Heart Like A Grave that includes a pair of instrumental bonus tracks.
Summary: How is it this band keeps getting better?