‘Anno 1696’ is based on a short story written by frontman Nillo Sevänen himself, somewhat similar to what they did with the epic ‘Winter’s Gate’ back in 2016. The story is set in the dark part of history in Northern Europe, a time of witches, superstition, bloodlust, frenzy, and werewolves. It’s a story based on some real stuff that happened back then in Finland with very dark tales of cannibalism and child murder and the witch hunt entering the country due to overall paranoia due to the many deaths caused by the famine. You can’t get more metal than this.
Insomnium doesn’t like to repeat themselves and every album they try to produce a different sound that fits between the norms of Insomnium. Where the 2021 EP ‘Argent Moon’ was a beautiful but soft release, with ‘Anno 1696’ they’re showing those who thought that Insomnium was going soft that they still have a brutal streak.
We kick off with ‘1696’ and it’s something we did not expect. After a short acoustic intro, they blast off with a more blackened sound than we’ve ever heard coming from them. Something that works very well considering the story that has to be told. But it’s still filled with the melancholic tunes that have been their trademark since the very beginning. ‘White Christ’ has a guest appearance of Sakis Tolis, frontman of the mighty Rotting Christ. Just to achieve a beautiful mix between the raw and dark and the melancholic but darkened tunes that Insomnium produce. With ‘Godforsaken’ they tried something never done before. Female vocals from the talented Johanna Kurkela known for her work with Auri, the folk project with her husband Tuomas Holopainen from Nightwish. It’s an epic song with again that blackened feeling while some musical experimentation is present as well, and Johanna provides the extra layer to ultimate sadness.
‘Lilian’ is a melancholic and mesmerizing beauty where in the story one of the characters encounters her and is lost in her eyes. The lyrics say enough: ‘Bewitching eyes are staring, piercing right through me. Deep into my wishes. And deep into my soul.’ It stands for itself. Then we have ‘Starless Paths’ that is the perfect battle between the melancholic ancient sound and the new more blackened approach that is refreshing and works very well. ‘The Witch Hunter’ tells us the tale of all the misery that is happening, where you hear the despair within the song. And with ‘The Unrest’ we have our first slower song after all the blackened and fast-paced scorching metal. We end this album with a story of werewolves called ‘The Rapids’ where fast-paced drums and great melancholic riffs end this new Insomnium masterpiece of an album.
Insomnium did it again where they did not repeat themselves while staying true to the band’s spirit and sound. With a more blackened and raw sound than every, they produced an album that will resonate with a lot of people. Like ‘Winter’s Gate’ they wrote a masterpiece that takes you to a whole other world for the length of the album. ‘Anno 1696‘ is Insomnium‘s most raw and blackened album to date.
- Music / Songwriting 9/10
- Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
- Mix / Production 9/10
- Artwork & Packaging 9/10
- Originality 9/10
Insomnium created a new refreshing album that shows a different kind of style than what they have released of late. It became a raw, blackened and fierce release that really embodies the dark part of history that it’s based on.
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