Review: “Argent Moon” by Insomnium

Having reached the nirvana of their aspirations with the critically acclaimed album “Heart Like A Grave” in October 2019 and finding themselves at the top of the Finnish album charts as well as in the German top #10, Insomnium could have been forgiven for thinking that they would spend at least the next 18 months touring the Globe. Entertaining the massed hordes of Metal fans who had arrived at the gates to witness the splendour repeated in the live setting was very high on their agenda until the opportunity that they had afforded themselves thanks to the genius of their album had been cruelly taken away by something outside of their control. So in the face of that heartbreak the band did the only thing they knew they could and sort solace in returning to the studio once more to create something bewitching. They chose to wander the old school paths, with no drum triggering and no reamped guitars, choosing a more organic sound. The pounding drums of Markus Hirvonen were committed to tape at Tampere’s Fantom Studio with renowned sound engineer Samu Oittinen (Korpiklaani, Prestige, Oddland) who also also mixed all the songs. Most of the other instruments and vocals were recorded with the long time collaborator Teemu Aalto (Omnium Gatherum, Marianas Rest) at his Music Productions Studio in the band’s hometown Kotka…

…anyone who has been a fan of Insomnium over the past two decades will recognise the hallmarks of the band that run throughout the near 25 minutes of “Argent Moon” as it by and large sticks to the script and follows the path they established with 2014’s “Shadows of the Dying Sun“. Lyrically the title track “The Conjurer” is as majestic a piece of Melodic Death Metal as you’re likely to find anywhere, a glorious genre tour de force that encapsulates everything that Insomnium are in a single seven and a half minute piece of epic grandeur that really needs a venue like the Royal Albert Hall to be matched in stature when it is performed live. Niilo Sevänen’s unclean vocals remain very much the harshest part of the bands material, while rich solos and icy piano add the kind of depth and texture that keeps you coming back for more with light and shade in equal measure and Jani Liimatainen’s solo is vibrant without being virtuoso, perfect for the material. “The Reticent” sees meek and mild clean vocals explode into the more familiar gruff ones with more glorious lead guitar work building a melancholic atmosphere that is simply beautiful, the acoustic moments helping to achieve the building, slow burning and enthralling natured soundscape that this band have long been known for. Lyrically these songs are reflective and thought provoking, finding a balance between introspection and a kind of melancholic existentialism that channels their obvious frustrations while keeping them shrouded in a cloak that gives them a broader appeal and the opportunity to make them your own. A far darker tale “The Antagonist” takes us deeper down the spiral of pain with some heavier riffs and harsher vocals broken up by clean sung passages that ensure that “Argent Moon” is so much more than simply an EP to bridge the gap between albums and tours but a majestic piece of work in its own right, capturing the bleak nature of “Heart Like A Grave” but being so much more personal [8.5/10]

Track listing

1. The Conjurer
2. The Reticent
3. The Antagonist
4. The Wanderer

Argent Moon” by Insomnium is out 17th September 2021 via Century Media

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