Insomnium - Anno 1696
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal
8 songs (50:26)
Release year: 2023
Insomnium, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat

A new Insomnium album is increasingly a pleasure like no other, and after the success of 2016's Winters Gate, why not make another concept piece? So once again these Finnish atmospheric and melancholic death maestros have returned to the stories written by vocalist Niilo Sevänen for inspiration. And although some will argue as to whether this is as good as that previous one-long-song album (others may well regard it as even better!) Anno 1696 shows that Insomnium are still hitting the high quality mark. Honestly, most would agree that the band haven't produced a sub-par album yet! The classiness mentioned in previous reviews is still a huge driver of what makes their music so captivating as the acoustic intro to the title track here shows, opening the album with a folksy flourish and setting you up well for the ensuing dark storm. From the bleak power of the riffs to the stunningly incorporated melodies, the formula more than works its dark magic, and structurally there's even a little progressive quality to keep things fresh and interesting - that six-minute plus song length doesn't feel it at all.

An album full of such songs would have been sufficient, yet Insomnium are not content to be themselves and push onwards. Two guest spots provide some of the most memorable pieces present; starting with Rotting Christ's Sakis Tolis on White Christ, a groovy piece that feels more like one of the Greek band's recent outings in a good way. And Johanna Kurkela provides ethereal female vocals on the eight minute Godforsaken, which takes a more melodic black metal route with some particularly grandiose melodies and stunningly lovely vocal harmonies along the way. Elsewhere, the more typically Insomnium-esque pieces like Lilian and Starless Path are galloping prog-touched melodic rumbles that more than match up in quality terms, and The Witch Hunter's clean-sung chorus and use of melody approaches melodeath transcendence - one of their best songs yet!

And it's hard to pick a poor track out here at all, even acoustic and piano ballad The Unrest being rather beautiful and working well as a mini-interlude before finale The Rapids brings things home with some of the album's best guitar soloing. Really, the biggest nitpick to have about this album is that the placing of the relatively slow and groovy White Christ so early unbalances the tracklisting more than a little; it would have worked much better as a counterpoint late in the album, perhaps between Starless Paths and The Witch Hunter? In any case, this is yet another more than solid release from Insomnium, who are firing on all cylinders and continue to prove themselves a must-hear band in the genre.

Killing Songs :
Godforsaken, Lilian, The Witch Hunter, The Rapids
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Insomnium that we have reviewed:
Insomnium - Heart Like a Grave reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Insomnium - Winter's Gate reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Insomnium - One For Sorrow reviewed by Khelek and quoted 86 / 100
Insomnium - Across the Dark reviewed by Dan and quoted 87 / 100
Insomnium - Above the Weeping World reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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