In the Halls of Awaiting

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In the Halls of Awaiting Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

Although Insomnium hailed from Finland, their debut album, 2002's In the Halls of Awaiting, placed them squarely in the tradition of archetypal melodic death metal bands of the Gothenburg, Sweden school (a "school" not known for offering remedial courses for adequate command of the English language, clearly), whose leading lights appeared to be vacating the premises, so to speak, at the time. Certainly that was the case for Insomnium's biggest inspiration, In Flames, who had plowed the furrow long enough to feel the cold hands of stagnation encroaching upon their necks, and were currently attempting to reinvent themselves with foreign electronics and even the dreaded nu metal (see this same year's checkered Reroute to Remain opus). And Insomnium, for good or ill, appeared dead set on stepping into the breach with no hesitation and armed with music bearing uncanny similarities to that of their heroes. In fact, standouts from their first album, such as "Ill-Starred Son" and "The Elder," could have very well passed for Whoracle or Jester Race outtakes, while weaker, far more abundant carbon copies like "Black Waters" and "Journey Unknown" wouldn't even have made it past the demo stage, they recycled so many ideas. Instead, it was only via sporadic departures from this formula like "Shades of Deep Green" and the epic title track -- with their occasional clean baritone vocals, more dramatic slower tempos, and gently melancholy melodies (all reminiscent of goth metal and darkwave) -- that Insomnium would start feeling their way forward, almost blindly, toward a more distinctive sound, better suiting their talents. That sound would start to pay dividends on 2004's sophomore Since the Day It All Came Down and achieve beautiful fruition on 2006's Above the Weeping World, but, by comparison, In the Halls of Awaiting sounds like nothing more than a failed practice run, worthy of discovery only by Insomnium completists.

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