After two years, and riding on their 2011 album, One for Sorrow, Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium are releasing their aptly titled EP Ephemeral. This being their first album featuring their new guitarist Markus Vanhala (replacing Ville Vänni), the band seems ready to evolve their style.
One of the first things I like to do before a review is to listen to the band’s previous work and get to know them a bit. After all, it’s only fair that you get to know a band’s stylistic tendencies before you go judging them willy-nilly. However, something interesting happened this time: Upon finding some of their previous work and listening to this new EP, I had to double check that I was listening to the same band. So, let’s get this out of the way early: Those of you who are expecting a bit of the same-old-same-old from Insomnium, look away… or at least change your expectations a little bit.
First and foremost – and the album’s title should have been a big clue for this – the EP is short, clocking in at just under 12 minutes. Ephemeral, meaning “short-lived”, is exactly that. Still, I must emphasize that the album certainly doesn’t lose anything due to its brevity. With only four songs, three of them instrumental, Ephemeral is great for a brief listen on the go, but also good for an hour-long listen on repeat.
The title track “Ephemeral” (the only one with lyrics) is a pretty standard metal melody. It’s fast and full of rockin’ guitar riffs, layered harmonies, and some vicious vocals. To be honest, it’s probably one of their catchiest tunes to date. The remaining three songs are a different beast all together –and a pretty tame beast at that. The aptly named “The Emergence”, “The Swarm” and “The Descent”, are instrumental tunes with a folksy, light, slow and melodious aura permeating them as they ascend and descend. After the heaviness of the first track, these songs surprised me, but in a pleasant way.
To speak to its perks, the album is well composed. You’re drawn in by the catchy opening track and then treated to lovely instrumental ascension, climax, and descent in the remaining ones. The only downside is that these final three tunes feel a bit out of place after the heavy opening; but even then, it hardly seems to detract much from the overall experience. In fact, if you ask me, it seems to speak more to Insomnium’s versatility and adaptability.
I’ll be honest: part of the reason I ranked this EP so highly is simply because I just enjoyed the way it sounded. It’s very pleasing to listen to; it gives you a taste of the band’s ability to rock out hard, and bring their lyricism forward, while at the same time highlighting their compositional talent.While Insomnium’s older albums are wonderful works, this album is certainly a step in a different direction; so if you’re looking for something brutal and hard-rocking all the way to the final track, this EP might not be for you. But if you’re like me, and appreciate a little bit of variety within an album, definitely give this EP a chance.