Tracks? Tracks!? Where we’re going we don’t need no stinking tracks. With Insomniums‘ new voyage titled Winter’s Gate they’ve went off the idea of a tracklist and instead present their new album as one forty minute epic.
Forty minutes (to the exact planck) of gruelling sound waves that may or may not have monsters hidden deep within its sultry depths, the tentative album is more like an audio book with a most awesome and inspiring soundtrack. It’s a concept album, but it’s a concept album in the concept of not pretentiously using the art form to justify the means of the narrative, it’s like Vikinception within the music.
Even with the format being different from the usual stock presentation of modern music the idea compliments the concept spectacularly. It’s a complete story, written by singer and bass player Niilo Sevänen, called Winter’s Gate. The original Finnish text Talven Portti by Niilo Sevänen won several awards back in 2007 and 2008, and so in the midst of an Edge of Sanity album play (Crimson if you’re interested) the band embarked upon their most ambitious project yet…
Winter’s Gate tells the tale of a rag-tag band of Vikings who set out to find the legendary island of Fobol that lies off the west coast of Ireland after there was an insurrection in the UK and Europe by the lizard-alien-mechadroid Cytories (during the Thatcher years.) The crew of the Battleship Snekkja leave for the mysterious forbidden apple isles as winters harrowing winds edge towards the dying sun. It’s something like anyway that I might be getting confused with Battlestar Galactica.
The musical form of the tale is epic and matches its winter woven boots with an innovative and deeply involving album that’s beautiful in every sense. It’s quick development of an energetic musical prose creates dynamic tension to paint the story in the mind. Setting the adventure off with a colourful banner that remains cohesive throughout the parts of the piece. It’s something that’s come to be expected of Insomnium.
There’s a part of me that wishes every album was presented like this, on one track, as with each listen as I became more familiar with the way the entire album was traversed it became more like a favoured route than just a photograph of a musical landscape. In that sense Winter’s Gate is truly innovative. Preserving its story completely without cutting corners to get to the next good bit. It’s by far one of the most interesting attempts to bridge the divide between pop culture and music.