Insomnium’s “Anno 1696”: A Review

Joshua Tanner | Contributor

📸 – Terhi Ylimäinen

Coming hot off the success of their 2021 EP Argent Moon, Insomnium’s 9th full album ‘Anno 1696’ is one you should not miss, releasing February 24th. Centralized around the famine and witch hunting years in Finland around 1696, it starts off strong with the opening track ‘1696’. Starting off with an acoustic prelude, it builds to a full, in-your-face attack with Markus H’s drumming, paired with Markus V’s, Ville’s, and Jani’s guitar technique. The band took the blackened metal route to give an idea just how bleak this timeframe in history was. 1/3rd of the country’s population was killed.

Moving onto the second track, ‘White Christ’. The pairing between Niilo’s and Sakis’ vocals is perfect. This follows the story of a witch hunter, tasked with going to far away lands, following stories of reported witchcraft, all in the name of Jesus Christ. Track three, ‘Godforsaken’, features Johanna Kurkela from Auri and Eye of Melian fame. Her humming through the song adds a VERY haunting approach to an already emotion-driven release, especially paired with Niilo’s harsh vocals and technique to convey them. The lyrics detail the despair the people endured and all of the thoughts that went through their head after dealing with failed crops and harsher weather.

The first single, ‘Lilian’, follows the story of a lady that is mysterious as the land the story takes place in. The music video follows her and her lover through their time together, ending with her running away and her lover comes across a wolf while searching for her. Next up,’Starless Paths’ follows the witch hunter on the trail of a reported witch from local stories, deep in the woods to find her hut, with no hope of returning where he came from with all of the treacherous terrain that must be crossed.

‘The Witch Hunter’ details the background of the witch hunter and his devout faith to God, who will not hesitate to strike down anything that mocks it and judge anything deemed ‘not of this world’. Track 7, ‘The Unrest’, is a ballad about the love between Lilian and her husband and the family that they wish to have, while living in the wild, full with the force of the winds from the harsh winter that has settled in. The album closer, ‘The Rapids’, it is the final showdown between Lilian and the Witch Hunter and the one helping hand he has with him still. The one tasked with helping him has second-guessed his true direction he should take, as he has learned everything about Lilian and her motives.

Rating: 10/10

Anyone that was a fan of Argent Moon should definitely love this album. It’s exciting to know the album was written around a full historical event.

Releasing February 24th, via Century Media Records

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