I am a bit of latecomer with Insomnium. The Finnish four piece came to my attention last year with their release ‘Shadows of a Dying Sun’- an album I still have on heavy rotation to this day. The bands melodic death metal styling is both punishing one moment and dreamlike the next, enveloping the listener in a musical shroud of dark wonder. I love what the band did prior to the release of ‘Winter’s Gate’ in that they released a series of short videos detailing the albums creation. The frozen surroundings were perfect for the shoot and the band speak openly about the albums genesis.
For their latest release the band have tried something different in that they have delivered an album consisting of one song. Split up into seven acts the album is based upon a short story written by bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevanen called ‘Winter’s Gate’ – which is available inside the sleeve, translated into English for your reading pleasure. ‘Winter’s Gate’ sees Insomnium firing on all cylinders. The production and mixing is excellent, allowing each instrument to breathe and not drowning out the vocals of Sevanen. The guitars are sublime, featuring driving riffs one moment and intricate melodies the next. These melodic passages allow the listener to catch a breath before the next crushing passage comes along, laying waste to your eardrums. Hirvonen and Sevanen (drums and bass, respectively) combine well, keeping the music precise and rhythmic setting an epic platform from which Sevanen delivers a heartfelt and passionate vocal performance.
There is a lot more instrumentation on this album and I’m fine with this, especially when the band is sounding so tight and focussed. I definitely feel that Insomnium were in a good place when recording this. There is very little to be critical about, perhaps only a slight niggle would be the running time, which is a little on the short side. To these ears, everything falls into place perfectly with ‘Winter’s Gate’. Insomnium have gone one better than the immense sounding ‘Shadows of a Dying Sun’ and in doing so have created one of, if not THE metal album of 2016.