Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

A review of the Finns’ new corker of an album

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When you think about what Winter sounds like, what do you hear? Chilling winds? Crisp echoes reverberating around you? Well, funnily enough that is how Part 1 of Winter’s Gate begins. The gate soon opens to a classic, triumphant INSOMNIUM riff leading the listener to the band’s familiar melodic death metal sound. Very quickly you realise this is the strongest the band has ever sounded.

Part 3 is gloriously melodic with delicate, crystal clear guitar notes unexpectedly reminiscent of bands such as ANIMALS AS LEADERS. But this proves how versatile the band still is and the track soon explodes into pure INSOMNIUM territory, with plenty of nods to peers such like AMON AMARTH and AMORPHIS. A few calmer interludes only emphasise how on form these Finnish masters are as they take you by surprise.

It is soon hard to ignore the use of strings and piano which perfectly compliment the metal, creating an epic audio landscape topped with Niilo Sevänen’s rumbling growls. Indeed it is the piano which begins Part 5 and it erupts into old school INSOMNIUM – with the low, slow growls and no nonsense death metal ambience. The final song, Part 7 flows from Part 6 to the climatic end. The album is after all, meant to be appreciated as one song, with all seven parts seamlessly transitioning from the one before to the next.

This is an ambitious album but it pays off as Part 7 is an impressive beast in itself, with previously used elements all thrown together to create a superb, heavy finale. Even rumbles of thunder make an appearance to bring the album to a thumping end. Soon everything fades to piano and whispers in the dark before Winter’s Gate finally closes.

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