Album: Anno 1696
Label: Century Media
Release Date: 02/24/2023
Location: Joensuu, Finland
Written by Brian Lloyd
On Anno 1696, the ninth studio album by Finnish extreme metal legends Insomnium, is a beautiful, catchy, emotional and cathartic experience, delivering a story and sound unlike anything their previous releases have been able to capture.
To be fair I have only been aware of Insomnium for a few years, their first release I was into was 2014’s Shadows of the Dying Sun, and since then they have become a staple on my playlist. Omn Winter’s Gate and Heart Like a Grave Insomnium refined their brand of “doomed” melodic death metal where here on Anno 1696 it has been all but perfected.
Like Winter’s Gate, Anno 1696 is based on a short story by bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen. Telling the story of the Scandinavian witch hunts carried out by invading Christian armies from neighboring English countries. The terrors of religious persecution are prevalent throughout the album.
Kicking off with the folky opening of “1696” Insomnium wastes no time getting you into the atmosphere of this album. “White Christ” sets everything into high gear with soaring riffs and an almost blackened melo/death fury, perpetuated by the tortured screams of Rotting Christ’s Sakis Tolis. Then the absolute badger “Godforsaken” featuring Finnish folk singer Johanna Kurkela’s amazing vocals comes in and makes sure you know you’re listening to a classic.
Insomnium have crafted their first masterpiece. Filled with the doom and gloom of their previous efforts but also a lot more folk and Scandinavian influenced instrumentation than ever before. Anno 1696 shows that Insomnium have gone underrated in the melodic death metal scene and should be considered legends.
Listen to and order the album: