Insomnium - Winter's Gate review


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Band: Insomnium
Album: Winter's Gate
Release date: September 2016

01. Winter's Gate

When Insomnium announced the release of an album called Winter's Gate, I thought this Finnish band would naturally have audible elements from the winter season; but when they explained the subject of the album in interviews, I wondered at what cost this change in content would come. The theme that Winter's Gate addresses is "a group of Vikings who set out to find a fabled island west of Ireland, despite the treacherous winter drawing near." I concluded that I would then hear Viking metal that deals with the stereotypical stories of the Asgardians. But Winter's Gate was not at all like this…

The album is divided into seven parts. The main line of the story is the Vikings' trip to Ireland, told in a serialized form.

Part I, which is actually an introduction to the album's atmosphere, starts with breathtaking spaces ranging from whistling winds to the sailing ships of the Vikings, with the sound of the turbulent waves and the wind roaring everywhere; listening to this, you immediately see a Viking ship, a great beauty that will bring the people within through the winter season. All of these samples, which have been used with all zeal, continue to produce snowflakes that build into a huge avalanche, and soon you hear the power of death metal in these classic riffs and vocalist Niilo Sevänen. "Slaughter Moon" is the title of this first section, with lyrics composed in an aggressive and decisive manner, including the demise of the Vikings and the struggle with the wintry sea.

"The hoar sea enfolds us…"

In Part II, the beautiful melodies of the guitar, which are polished with Niilo Sevänen's bass and high musicality, are undoubtedly the best melodies of 2016. They begin with classical guitar virtuosity, coupled with power chords, and finish with bass-and-drum complements and the cluttered keyboard clusters filling in the gaps. This part is entitled "The Golden Wolf," after a six-legged beast mentioned within.

"And there, amidst the fog…"

Part III begins with calm guitar improvisation that blurs away some of the turbulence of the album. It's relaxing with the keyboards, slow drumming, cool vocals, and quiet whispering, but you know that this is the calm before the storm. The layers of sound progress and this time, with Niilo Sevänen's voice, the poem is ready with all its power to serve as the main conductor of the winter.

"And yet it wrings me
Like a strange cold hand…"

But in Part IV, with the winter gate whispering of heaven, still I feel the blossoming of pain and solitude, with its high dynamics and rhythmic guitar solos, and percussive drums that leave an interesting groove. This section is entitled "At the Gates of Winter." An interesting point is the matching of instrumental solos in the track's language, which intimates the group's meticulous mixing and mastering of the album.

"No one will sing tonight…"

Part V contains my favorite piece of the album, and I don't think I'll hear another track with this power for a long time. This part, with an absolute minimum of space and keyboard solidarity, begins as if the spiritual universe has found the truth of paradise and the soul is separating from the body to attain it - but with severe blows, pounding rhythms, and the terrible sounds of lightning and the onset of rain. This track is so heavy thanks to Markus Hirvonen, the double bass master, that it sounds powerful enough to break the album. The next sophisticated solo reminds me of the shred albums of the 1980s; I was really interested in this craze. This section, "The Gate Opens," is lyric poetry about the power of these cheerful, well-off people.

"And it will rise with a white, voiceless face
From the heart of the earth…"

Part VI moves with the rhythm of the fifth parth. The keyboard sounds like a brass band; with the underlying strains of guitar, sequential patterns of drums, and elegant acoustics, this part is the apex itself.

"Hear the grinding… of stone against stone…
I'm crawling deeper… in the dark…"

Finally, Part VII begins with the sound of bass and the return to the rhythm of Part I. This has two lyrical sections, "The Final Stand" and "Into The Sleep"; with the black metal style, Part I is finally ready to bring the album full circle into the seventh part.

"The flame is weak and frail…
Sing of hope and sing of sleep."

Winter's Gate is undoubtedly one of the strongest albums of the last few years of metal music. In 40 minutes, this album shows the full breadth of the winter atmosphere, creating more challenges for Insomnium in the future.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9

Written by R.Baldur | 22.07.2017


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 120 users
23.07.2017 - 20:01
Love the album, didn't care about reading the story though :p
28.08.2017 - 13:32
Concept One
This is a very mature work. The connection between music and story makes it a great album. Maybe not original idea, but really good esecution.
06.11.2019 - 22:04
My favourite Insomnium CD. Absolute Masterpiece!

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