It’s a necessity to find some strategy for the selection of songs for these year-end lists because the universe of worthy candidates is so enormous. And so, as I’ve mentioned before, I make a conscious effort to present a mix of genre styles, and I also intermingle music from both well-known and much more obscure names.
For today’s installment, I’ve paired two very well-known and successful bands, both of whom have made their mark playing doom-influenced melodic death metal, but have also evolved in interesting ways. Not coincidentally, the songs I picked also include a mix of clean and harsh vocals, and both were presented through especially memorable music videos.
I was so happy that In Mourning‘s newest album Garden of Storms (reviewed by us here and here) was home to several highly infectious tracks because that allowed me, in picking one of them, to put one of my favorite pieces of 2019 cover art on our page again (credit to Necrolord).
In one of those two reviews I mentioned, which appeared when DGR put the album at No. 15 on his year-end list, he wrote: “It’s crazy to think that the purpose of Garden Of Storms was to complete a trilogy of works because… it sounds like an entire career summary for the group. It’s In Mourning‘s largest and most exploratory work by far, never content to stick with one style, and it has a whole lot more scrappy energy than the other two albums before it.”
That extra dose of energy is evident in the album’s opening track “Black Storm“, among others (“Heirophant” is another prime example, and a track I also seriously considered for this list). After first hearing it, DGR remarked in our private NCS group, “The opening few minutes sound like they could’ve come right off of Shrouded Divine, holy shit”. A bit later he exclaimed, “Oh man, and then the back half channels ‘The Poet and the Painter of Souls’ from Monolith“.
Which left me to comment about the middle of the track, which is great. The song drives drives really hard at first, but then slows and becomes more ethereal when Tobias Netzell begins singing. The way the song ramps up again is killer, with the guitar flickering over staccato bursts by the bass and drums, and a rhythm eventually emerging, joined by a second guitar just before the surge fully resumes.
The video is quite attractive, too (and I’m referring in particular to the beautiful, elfin redhead).
In retrospect I think we didn’t give enough attention to Insomnium‘s 2019 album Heart Like A Grave. I failed to write about any of the album’s advance tracks in the run-up to the release, and the only review we managed was DGR‘s relatively brief write-up when he put the album at No. 35 on his year-end list (here). I think my own reaction was very similar to DGR‘s — that this album is a collection of very enjoyable singles that displays a range of the styles that Insomnium has moved through in their progression as a band, and many of those songs are so enjoyable that they (and the album) warranted more notice from us, even if none of us here thought the album was at the top of Insomnium‘s discography.
I found many of the songs memorable, so much so that I had several candidates from the record for this list. I know DGR thought “Neverlast” was the most infectious one, and he’s probably right. But the one I’ve chosen is the title track, in part because it’s closer to what I would call Insomnium‘s most defining sound, and in part because it was introduced through a video that beautifully brought to life the song’s heart-breaking music and haunting lyrics.
The song showcases to good effect the band’s now-established pairing of clean vocals with Nilo Sevänen’s powerful death growls, as well as the positive effects of Jani Liimatainen‘s addition as a full-time guitarist. To borrow some words from another review of the album, it’s a beautifully morose and powerfully poignant track, and one I’ve found myself going back to often.