A cold and truculent winter has arrived in INSOMNIUM’S next masterpiece, Winter’s Gate. The temperatures will drastically drop in stores, online streams and so forth on September 23 under Century Media Records. For any INSOMNIUM fan, you should be excited for this. It is the initial follow up from 2014’s Shadows of the Dying Sun, and well, this album includes one single forty minute track. It is a trend I am starting to see lately that includes GORGUTS’ epic Pleiades Dust. However, the more, the merrier at this point. What more can I say about these Finnish Melodic Death Metal masters? I do not recall listening to anything that I have hated from them as I believe they have excelled in being geniuses. INSOMNIUM painted a new path as the album is based on frontman Niilo Sevänen’s short story, “Winter’s Gate.” It is a frozen tale on a group of Vikings who launched a journey to search for a fabled island west of Ireland, despite the dangers as winter lurked upon them.
The song opens with a brisk introduction as you can hear the frozen air as sorrow and mystery continue to rise. Blistering fury arrives at the 1:30 mark as it harrows with merciless riffs and explosive energy. It is possibly one of the most powerful introductions I have heard from them, but ironically I have had a similar reaction from INSOMNIUM on previous albums. A guitar riff intensifies this madness, as it creates the landscape for the chilling story. The journey does not seem to be moving well as it musically emphasizes the feelings of pain, chaos, and shivering determination. Vocals enter close to three minutes with, “seeking in the cold.”
A minute later, the song unravels with hypothermic adrenaline as one would usually rush to find warmth, which lasts until around the six-minute mark where the pace comes to a breathing halt. An ambient tone flies in as sounds of a cold dark wind, while you hear vocals whispering as the story moves back to a speedy frenzy. A massive scream flurries by as a melodic guitar solo takes over with the support of additional blackened instrumentals. The pace moves down towards a sedative-breathless journey as it transcends to a progressive haunting hymn which is a unique direction that INSOMNIUM would take. However, it does not last long as the wintry storm continues with a relentless energy and horrifying screams that blew me away. Around eighteen minutes, silence continues as I questioned which direction the song would move towards next.
Musically, feeling as though one is lost in the winter and surrounded by emptiness and despair, this is noticeable around 23 minutes in with the use of the distinct guitar riff and keyboard accompaniment. One minute later, everything turns to silence aside from one long guitar note where a piano silently enters. It transcends towards a demonic growl and around 25 minutes in, darkness erupts with full blown electronics. This explosion shifts again around the 27-minute mark as an even more mesmerizing guitar riff is introduced with a fresh hook as it compliments the vocals. There is a suspenseful melody that takes place where the pace of the drums controls this fortitude until the ambush at the 30-minute mark. An invigorating and hypnotic instrumental sets in and silences around 33 minutes where only one guitar chord is heard until another melodic insanity resurfaces.
As the song is nearing its finale, I don’t even know how it happened, but the chaotic eruption moves even further, pounding to all extremities as it suddenly stops with silence leaving with a soft acoustic sound. A piano moves in with gentle whispers that you can barely hear, as it slows down to an atmospheric nothingness. A singular melodic note is left as though it is nothing but the wind on a cold winter’s night. And that is how INSOMNIUM’S Winter’s Gate concludes and well, it’s pure bitter genius.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Well, there’s only one, duh!