Insomnium- Winter’s Gate (Century Media)

Genre: Extreme/Progressive Metal

Wrapped around an award-winning short story by Insomnium bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen, Winter’s Gate tells the story of a group of Vikings searching for a fabled island. Musically, it also tells the tale of a band whose progression over recent years has been startling, a group who have matched their lofty ambitions with a mature, refined approach to songwriting, and who create beautiful, stirring music that is both melancholic and heroic.

This release – a 40-minute-long song – is an epic saga hewn from dark melodies and majestic, stormy riffs. The Finns traverse a landscape of blast beats and swirling synths, crushing death/doom and glistening piano passages – you can feel the icy wind on your neck, smell the sea air and hear the crack of oars as you join Insomnium on their mighty voyage.

Despite its subject matter, Winter’s Gate is no Viking/folk metal pastiche: the quartet are classier than that, and the guitarwork of Markus Vanhala and Ville Friman could easily grace the finest works of modern prog. Indeed, the whole band excel themselves here, making the album crackle with energy, and they should be proud of the way they have pushed forward.

Bettering 2014’s Shadows of the Dying Sun was always going to be difficult for Insomnium, but with one magical song, they might just have done it.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Winter Is Coming