INSOMNIUM — In the Halls of Awaiting (review)

INSOMNIUM — In the Halls of Awaiting album cover Album · 2002 · Melodic Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
It didn’t really take much time at all for the early death metal scene to splinter off in myriad directions with some bands going the technical route and others adopting the melodic guitar riffs and solos of traditional heavy metal. The melodeath scene was pioneered primarily by Swedish bands like Dark Tranquility, In Flames and At The Gates which all formed in the city of Göteburg (Gothenburg) therefore the entire 90s was pretty much about Sweden’s Gothenburg scene as far as melodeath was concerned. Of course it didn’t take long for non-Swedish bands to adopt the style as their own including Britain’s Carcass after abandoning grindcore influences and on that list is the Finnish band INSOMNIUM that formed in Jeonsuu in 1997.

As far as full-length albums are concerned INSOMNIUM didn’t get its start until the 2002 debut IN THE HALLS OF AWAITING which was released a good decade after the whole melodeath thing had taken off but in that time bands like Edge of Sanity, Amorphous, Amon Amarth and the aforementioned bands kept the style running neck in neck with the other offshoots of the world of death metal. As far as direct influences are concerned for INSOMNIUM, it seems that this band’s biggest included In Flames and albums like “Whoracle” or “The Jester Race” as well as Dark Tranquility and early Amorphous with heavy chunky death metal riffing accompanied by melodic hooks culled from Scandinavian folk flavors.

IN THE HALLS OF AWAITING sounds like the typical melodeath of the day with the intensity of death metal including percussive blastbeats and growling guttural vocal angst. Also included are lots of clean guitar arpeggiated moments that allow the melodic influences to lead the way but the band even at this stage was really adept at crafting an album’s worth of material that took in the zeitgeist of the 90s scene which is really the problem with this debut. It was a few years late to the party for simple straight-forward melodeath and even though the band would up its game and remain relevant for the next couple of decades, at this point INSOMNIUM was a competent but just run of the mill melodeath metal band.

It’s amazing that this band has kept three constant members throughout its entire run of albums beginning with this one. Nillo Sevänen (bass, harsh vocals), Ville Friman (guitar, clean vocals) and Markus Hirvonen have remained a trio for all those years with only the fourth member changing guard. While IN THE HALLS OF AWAITING is by no means a bad example of melodeath it doesn’t grasp the complexities of what the band would prove itself capable of and therefore this debut is often regarded as the band’s weakest album. While that may be true, it’s still a decent album if you happen to be craving no nonsense melodeath without too much fuss and bother.

Personally i prefer the more sophisticated albums that follow so this one doesn’t register on my radar but it’s certainly a competent beginning for a band that managed to break free from its generic origins into something unique and innovative. At 55 1/2 minutes this album is also too long as it gets a little samey after several tracks however at the end are the best including “The Bitter End” and the lengthy 11-minute closer title track which really allows the melodic aspects to develop with nice piano rolls and extended dynamics. The nature of this debut certainly brings the band’s epic and sombre style to light but would require a couple more years of practice to really nail their own distinct sound.
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