Although Sweden and Norway are the first countries that come to mind when one thinks of Scandinavian metal, Finland has turned out to be an impressive player as well -- impressive for black metal, impressive for folk metal, impressive for goth metal, and impressive for death metal. Insomnium have epitomized the melodic side of Finnish death metal and they continue in that vein on Across the Dark. This 2009 release isn't a radical departure from Insomnium's previous albums, but there is one noticeable difference: this time, they incorporate some clean vocals -- which are provided by Jules Näveri (who, in European metal circles, is known for his contributions to the bands Profane Omen, Misery Inc., Burning Empire, and Enemy of the Sun). However, Näveri's clean vocals take a back seat to the extreme vocals of Niilo Sevänen, and Sevänen continues to favor a deep, guttural, "Cookie Monster" growl. Unfortunately, Sevänen still makes Insomnium's lyrics difficult to understand at times; that was a problem on previous Insomnium discs and is a problem on Across the Dark as well. But all things considered, this is an engaging, nicely crafted effort. Insomnium's melodies and harmonies are undeniably attractive, and their ability to combine aggression with nuance and intricacy serves them well. A lot of that aggression comes from Sevänen, whose Cookie Monster vocals are fun to listen to even though one wishes that he were consistently easy to understand. If Sevänen didn't come between the listener and the lyrics as often as he does, Across the Dark might have been a great album instead of merely a good one. But this 45-minute CD has more pluses than minuses -- and despite its imperfections, Across the Dark is well worth hearing if one has a taste for Nordic death metal that is unapologetically melodic.