INSOMNIUM is a Finnish melodic death
metal band. Over the last decade Insomnium has slowly but surely become
a household name in the melodic death metal scene. Formed in 1997 in the
somnolent town of Joensuu, in eastern Finland, these stern men have ever
since redefined the boundaries of the genre. Two highly acclaimed demos
already set the standard and in 2001 the band signed to UK label
Candlelight Records. Their debut album "In The Halls Of Awaiting" (2002)
introduced a young and fierce band that combined aggression and violent
riffing with a melancholic atmosphere. Their sound can be described as a
marriage between Scandinavian death metal and traditional Finnish tunes,
catchy but progressive, melodic but brutal - these have been the
Insomnium trademarks ever since. Their debut was praised all over the
metal world but the band still remained Finland's best kept secret.
Insomniums’s upcoming album ‘One For Sorrow’ has just been released. The
album was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden with sound engineer Daniel
Antonsson (also bassist in Dark Tranquillity and guitarist in Dimension
Zero) and at Fantom studios in Tempere, Finland, where the album was
mixed by Samu Oittisen. Insomnium will embark on a European headlining
tour in November with support from fellow Finns Before The Dawn and
In order to get to know all about Insomnium’s latest album we tracked
down drummer Markus Hirvonen to answer some questions. Here you
can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com.
all, how are you doing? And congratulations on your new album ‘One For
Sorrow’ which was recently released, of course we’d like to ask you a
couple of questions about it.
Thanks for asking I am feeling good although it has been crazy busy
under the release of our new album, with lots of interviews and things
to be sorted out. We all go to normal day jobs during the day, so
needless to say we do not have the problem of excessive free time. We
are not complaining, ‘cause we love what we are doing.
very familiar with Insomnium, so can you start this interview off with a
short introduction of the band and give us a little update of what’s
been happening since your previous release ‘Across the Dark’?
Insomnium is a Finnish death metal orchestra that plays melodic death
metal with a twist of melancholy and progressive elements in the mix.
‘One for sorrow’ is our fifth full length album and takes off where it’s
highly acclaimed predecessor ‘Across the Dark’ left us. We have done
three European tours, played at cool summer festivals, won a few
respected metal awards, met lots of great fans etc.
approach did you choose to create ‘One For Sorrow’, did you go for a
more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous
other works, or something altogether different?
the biggest mistake you could ever make when writing new songs is to
think too carefully about the outcome of the whole album. Albums tend to
shape up during the songwriting process and during the band rehearsals.
Our songwriting and song arranging has always evolved and this is now
where we’re at with our band. So our aim was not to create something
totally different from ‘Across the Dark’ but it just went briefly to
that direction on its own terms.
the songwriting process like for ‘One For Sorrow’? For instance, does
someone come in with just a riff, or complete songs?
This album was a prime example of what you can do with remote
connections. We had only three practice sessions with all four of us
together and 90% of the actual work happened via email. Ville F. and
Niilo wrote the actual riffs for the songs and they were arranged by all
four of us. We never do actual composing in the rehearsals because it is
simply not time efficient enough. We all live in different cities across
Finland and Ville F. lives in the UK so we were forced to work like this
and it turned out to be the perfect working method for us.
were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘One For
Sorrow’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?
With ‘One for Sorrow’ there were no special elements we wanted to
include and it was more a natural evolution of our musical and lyrical
expression. Ville does the clean vocals himself on this album and this
was something that we wanted to emphasize.
you describe the implications of the title ‘One For Sorrow’, what does
it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
‘One for Sorrow’ originated from an old English nursery rhyme called
“One for Sorrow” which is about telling your fortune by counting the
crows on a tree. Although the “One for Sorrow” album is not based on the
rhyme entirely, some lyrics follow the theme loosely.
tell me a little more about the lyrics, did anything in particular
inspire you? Where do you get your inspiration from?
The lyrical themes are pretty much the same as always with us. Poetic
and emotional lyrics have always been our strong points and one of our
trademarks. Topics usually deal with love, death, loneliness,
heartbreak, regret, longing, etc. This time Niilo was inspired by poet
Christian Morgenstern and Kaarlo Sarkia among others and Ville got into
older English rhymes. Basic inspiration still comes from life in general
and from our own experiences.
important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart
from listening to the music?
It is very important! To really thoroughly understand what Insomnium is
about you, really have to dig into the lyrics. Each song is like a small
tale lyrically and has its own meaning. Like I said before, lyrics are
definitely one of the strong points among others.
Can you give us a little background information
on the songs, is there a story behind them?
‘One for Sorrow’ is really not a concept album but still one can find
some connection between the songs, and some themes fit the one for
sorrow rhyme quite well. That being said, there wasn’t any plan to bond
the lyrics together like any kind of concept album. We are happy if some
people find them to be connected to a degree because it means that they
have carefully thought of the content and the meaning of the lyrics in
someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music,
what would you hope they would take from them?
One would have to dig deep and interpret the ryhmes and choruses and
find a meaning of the lyrics that fits your situation. I feel that the
lyrics are so powerful and emotional that they would act as a miniature
poetry compilation on their own. Although the lyrics might seem
depressing and highly melancholic at first glance, there are many of
elements there which most people consider empowering and hopeful.
the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?
A good song has a killer melody- and storyline, a good rhythm section to
keep the flow and a fresh and interesting song arrangement. Really it
doesn’t take much more than that.
would you describe this album to someone that has never listened to the
‘One for Sorrow’ is aggressive and mellow, straight and complex, clean
and distorted. Insomnium delivers carefully arranged and compact songs
with multi-layered melodylines and in our opinion it is the way that
semi-progressive melodic death metal should be done.
Sorrow’ was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden and in the Fantom studios in
Tempere. Why did you choose to record the album in two different
Samu Oittinen from the Fantom studios recorded ‘Above the weeping world’
and ‘Across the Dark’, so he was also a natural choice for us for the
latest album. Daniel Antonsson came in the picture when we were touring
with Dark Tranquillity last fall and became friends with Daniel and the
rest of the DT crew. We wanted to incorporate his passion for guitars
and studiowork so we ended up recording the guitars in Gothenburg.
the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than
you did with your previous works? How much time did you spend in the
This session was a bit different compared to the previous ones in a few
aspects. First of all I was alone for the whole drum recording session
so there were no distractions at all. The second major difference is
that the guitars were recorded in Sweden. The third major difference
would be the mixing session, because none of us were present in the
studio so comments about premixes had to be done via email.
album was recorded with sound engineer Daniel Antonsson, can you tell us
a little about working with him?
Daniel is an amazing guitar player and a super nice guy. Anton’s superb
playing skills were utilized in our song called “Only One Who Waits”
where Daniel plays a small solo part. In general, Daniel being a
excellent guitarist, he also has good ears for searching the best
possible guitar sound.
elements/songs on the new album can one clearly hear Daniel’s vision and
Daniel’s main contribution on ‘One for Sorrow’ is in the guitar sound
and the small superb solo section in “Only One Who Waits”. We didn’t
excpect Daniel to bring any new elements or visions to our music because
the songs were naturally already well-planned and prepared.
released five albums so far, what do you think are the main differences
between your debut album ‘In the Halls of Awaiting’ and your latest
In a way they are really far apart but in another they are quite close
to each other. Strong melodies have always been our strong point and
through the different albums melodies have just gotten stronger and
deeper. Regarding our playing we have evolved a lot mainly by playing a
lot of shows around the world so the playing has became much more tight
and controlled. I feel that our first album was more of a mixture
between folkish melody lines combined with traditional melodeath riffs
and that our musical expression has evolved to our own niche that could
be characterized as being Insomnium sound. Insomnium sound contains more
dynamic song arrangements, a bit more riff oriented songs and even more
refined lyrical content.
several albums under your belt, how far has Insomnium surpassed your
original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of
being in the band?
Once you start a band the only purpose is to have fun with friends and
play the music you love the most. We have never set any goals regarding
success or the amount of shows we get to play. We all had a different
kind of dream of what it could be in the best case scenario but I think
not one of us could have dreamt that we would achieve this level of
recognition with our music. The most rewarding part is to really sit
down and think back how much we have experienced together and what we
have achieved by playing the music we love the most. In the end it is
all about friendship and having a great time playing together so the
core essence of why we are playing metal hasn’t changed at all.
song is your favorite one to play live? And which song do you find the
most challenging one to play live?
I love to play a song called “Lay the Ghost to Rest” from our new album.
It has a really nice flow to it, that is why I love to play it. The most
challenging one to play live must be “One for Sorrow”, the last track of
the new album, since it is really sensitive to the tempo and you really
have to have good dynamic control and timing to get through it without
major fuck ups. With drums it is always harder to play slower than
have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?
the highlights must be being able to see the world and getting a few
respected awards in Finland. The low points are something you don’t even
remember or don’t want to remember. After the second album we had a
short period of doubt regarding the band’s future and the direction we
were going in.
you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:
Fierce, aggressive and yet so beautiful form of
Underground: Counterforce to over-commercialized popmusic
Freedom of speech and endless source of information
Freedom of your own faith and destiny
Necessary in democracy
Netherlands: Land of cycling and classic cycling races
Land of a thousand lakes
tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate
you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you
I personally don’t write any of the lyrics but I know something about
the way Ville and Niilo write theirs. Usually they get their inspiration
from reading books and poetry, watching and experiencing good movies and
just observing the surroundings. Most of the creative force is still
lurking in you so you just have to find the proper medium to channel you
creativity to harness its full potential.
your opinion on the metal scene these days? What do you think of the
overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the
Melodic death metal has evolved a lot during the past years. Indeed
there is a certain overload of bands and it seems also that the lifespan
of the bands is much shorter than before. It is a shame that quantity
seldom comes with quality but it makes that handful of great bands even
more valuable than before. It’s funny you asked whether there is
something missing in the metal scene, since in most cases you actually
don’t notice the missing links in the sea of death metal before you find
a new band that completely screws your head. From time to time you come
up with new bands that are doing something you have never thought
before. It doesn’t have to be anything radically different but just that
that different that the idea is stuck in your head.
makes Insomnium different from the other melodic death metal bands?
We feel that we have the most attractive lyrics and strongest melodies
combined with riff-oriented playing. Insomnium is all about balancing
between doomish dark airy parts and faster, more punchy parts. If you
don’t believe us, give One for Sorrow a few spins and you will be sold.
does the future hold for Insomnium?
Hopefully we’ll get some great tours and get to meet some awesome fans
from the Netherlands and all over the world!
left to say to our readers, here is your chance?
Make sure you grab a copy of ‘One for Sorrow’ from a record store near
you and come to see our shows and perhaps join us for a beer or five
after the show. Take care and stay metal!
for your time,
Sevänen − Vocals, Bass (1997−present)
Friman − Guitar (1997−present)
− Guitar (2001−present)
Hirvonen − Drums (1997−present)
Pesonen − Drums, Guitar (1997−1998)
Partanen − Guitar (1998−2001)
the Halls of Awaiting
Since the Day it All Came Down
Above the Weeping World
Across the Dark