With an excellent new album in Above the Weeping World, Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium seem poised to join some of the heavy hitters at the forefront of the genre. Sea of Tranquility's Murat Batmaz recently caught up with lead singer Niilo Sevanen to talk about the history of the band and the exciting new album.
Read on for the interview!
Sea of Tranquility: Congratulations on your new album. It's one of the best melodic death metal discs of year.
Niilo Sevänen: Thank you very much! We are also very happy with the new album and people seem to like it a lot.
SoT: Could you talk a bit about Insomnium's sound and history?
Niilo: Insomnium was formed 1997 in a town called Joensuu in eastern Finland. Back then we were 16-17 year old and in a same school. We wanted just to play loud metal but pretty quickly our style began to resemble bands like Amorphis, In Flames, Dissection etc; melodic death metal in Scandinavian style. We made two demos and got a deal from Candlelight Records in 2001. After that we have made three albums: In the Halls of Awaiting (2002), Since the Day It All Came Down (2004) and Above the Weeping World (2006). During the years I think we have found our own sound which is more progressive and versatile than your average melodic death metal act; we have lot of epic songs, acoustic passages and stuff like that. I would say that we are more challenging than In Flames but less kinky than Opeth! The current Insomnium line-up has been together for 5 years and it includes guitarists Ville Friman and Ville Vänni, drummer Markus Hirvonen and vocalist-bassist Niilo Sevänen.
SoT: How long did the writing and recording process for Above the Weeping World take?
Niilo: We composed the songs during two years. The recording process took about two months. We had total of 30 days for recording and mixing and then one day for mastering.
SoT: How does your new disc compare to your previous two?
Niilo: It's better! First thing is that the overall sound is much better; we used a new studio and this time we sound as heavy as we should. The songs have evolved too, and I think we have 9 very strong tracks on the album.
SoT: It seems the acoustic passages have been shortened, and the riffing is generally heavier.
Niilo: That's true. The second album had maybe a bit too many acoustic parts in my opinion and this time we wanted to make a tighter and more aggressive package. The result is a meaner and heavier album. I think we have more doom and thrash influences on the new album as well.
SoT: How do you go about writing the relatively poetic lyrics compared to other bands?
Niilo: Well, quite often heavy metal lyrics are really shitty! We want to do something better because we know what we are capable of. We read a lot of stuff and I also write prose so naturally we want to make more interesting lyrics than just Satan, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll… I don't want to blow my own trumpet or anything but we put much more effort in writing good lyrics than many other bands.
SoT: Coming from Finland, what other bands do you think represent melodic death metal alongside Insomnium?
Niilo: Enter My Silence, Noumena, Before the Dawn, Omnium Gatherum, Rapture are all good bands for example. And then I have to mention doom death act Swallow the Sun also.
SoT: Earlier In Flames and Dark Tranquillity are huge reference points to describe the music of Insomnium. What do you think of these bands' current style?
Niilo: Well, I like their older stuff more. Some new material they are doing is good but most of it is pretty average… Still, great bands both of them!
SoT: Did you use to enjoy any Taneli Jarva era Sentenced? Their sense of melodicisim seems to have been carried over to yours a bit, in that both bands have a distinct Finnish darkness to it.
Niilo: Yes, Sentenced's Amok is one of the best albums ever. They have surely influenced our sound a lot and Jarva's vocal style resembles mine quite much. We share this Finnish darkness and gloom which separates us from the Swedish acts. Overall our sound is a kind of marriage of Finnish and Swedish melodic death metal. The ultimate Scandinavian death metal hybrid!
SoT: What death and black metal releases have you enjoyed this year?
Niilo: We are now on tour with Keep of Kalessin and Satyricon and I enjoy Kalessin's black metal a lot. Their Armada album is one of the best black metal albums in a while. Though they say it's "epic extreme metal". Finnish band Diablo made a great death/thrash album this year also though I don't think you know them in US…
SoT: What are Insomnium's plans for the near future?
Niilo: I'm writing this from Milan, Italy, and my short term plans are to finish the tour and get home! Six weeks on the road is quite a lot though we have lot of fun all the time. Then we will probably tour a lot during the next year and start thinking about the fourth album. A lot of work still to do if we are to conquer the world! Hopefully we can come to the US soon.
(Click here to read our reviews of Above the Weeping World)