Sound — 8
Before we begin, a key difference to consider here is the replacement of guitarist Ville Vänni with Markus Vanhala (Omnium Gatherum). However, the new sound of Insomnium, as far as guitars go, does not seem all that different. Here's the breakdown: The "Ephemeral" EP starts off with the title track. This song can simply be described as feel-good melodic death metal (think of mid-career Scar Symmetry or Dark Tranquillity singles). The layers and layers of harmonies that Insomnium excel at piling on are ever-present, and Niilo Sevänen's vocals are still in-your-face and brutal (not br00tal) as hell. If you enjoy a good short, killer experience with minimal replay value, then this song is for you. I can see it getting old quick, but upon first listen, it sounds incredible and gives me high hopes for the LP release. The second part of this 4-song EP is "The Emergence", which, along with the third track "The Swarm," is a beautiful, ambient instrumental piece with folk-influenced guitar licks and keyboards out the ass. If anything, I can say that the EP is well organized, as it gives us the strong title track first, the two mellow pieces in the middle, and what comes next... Finally, we have "The Descent." It continues the folkish tone of the previous two songs, which is unfortunate, but I suppose they do not want to spoil us. I was really expecting a big track here, similar to the title track. Anyhow, it is simply another instrumental, and doesn't stray far from where we left off. It has the signature Insomnium sound, with the delay and reverb effects basically making the tune happen. Mixing and production quality is top notch, which is no surprise for a Finnish group of this size, and the music is what we can expect from Insomnium without going too far in any direction. Perhaps they're saving all the ear candy for the LP? We can only hope.
Lyrics — 7
I have a feeling that the reviews for lyrics on "Ephemeral" EP are going to be very hit and miss. And here's why: To start off, only one track on the EP has lyrics, and that is "Ephemeral." To describe something as "ephemeral" is to say that thing is "finite" or it "exists briefly." This gives us a clue as to what the song is dealing with. The chorus is "Dying doesn't make this world dead to us, Breathing doesn't keep the flame alive in us, Dreaming doesn't make time less real for us, One life, one chance, all ephemeral, ephemeral." Here it becomes clear. It is describing our life as ephemeral, and saying that although our life is not infinite, it almost turns into a YOLO-flavored song. The thing about these lyrics (besides the obnoxiously repeated "to us" at the end of each phrase) is that they are too explicit. Explicit lyrics work in some cases, perhaps a song about politics or trying to get an important point across. And while this song has an important point, it doesn't set itself apart from all the other songs with the same meaning because it practically holds your hand through the process of explaining its meaning. The rest of the song's lyrics continue on like this, with simple maxims such as "When the fear of them is gone, fear is gone" or "And every day you die a little." For me, the lyrics work, but they could be so much better if the used strong metaphors or exclusively implicit formula for lyric writing.
Overall Impression — 8
Insomnium is one group with an incredible consistent and strong discography. With releases like "Above the Weeping World," the band has set itself comfortably in the midst of famous melodic death metal acts the likes of Dark Tranquillity while retaining their own unique mixture of post-rock style metal. After the mixed impressions we were left with in the form of "One for Sorrow," can Insomnium bring us back to unanimous praise with the sneak peak to next year's big release? The answer is... probably.