Review INSOMNIUM ‘Anno 1696’

The Finns of Insomnium are well-known, since they have been around since 1997. With an impressive discography of eight longplayers, the Finns have delivered excellent results over the past years. However, the latest studio album ‘Heart Like a Grave’ was released almost four years ago and it was the ‘Argent Moon’ EP that helped to bridge the waiting time.

Now the band returns with ‘Anno 1696’ and offers 50 minutes of best melodic death metal. The first thing that catches your eye is the unusual title of the album. However, if you know the background, you understand the choice.

The lyrical concept of the album takes us back to the ancient times of Northern Europe, an era of witches, werewolves and superstition. In addition to the lyrics themselves, Insomnium have also based the album on a short story written by frontman Niilo Sevänen, which is part of several formats of this release.

It is a dark story. Witch hunt and the witch trials of Torsåker, in which apparently 70 women were beheaded plus the dark stories and incidents of famine provide Insomnium with a creepy inspiration for their ninth album.

Photo by Terhi Ylimäin /Century Media

Musically, the Finns emphasize the basic lyrical theme as usual, skillfully and bombastically. ‘Anno 1969’ is a gloomy album where sadness and distress are in the foreground. Hope, on the other hand, takes a back seat, which nevertheless doesn’t stop the band from mixing beautiful melodic arcs with vicious growls. ‘Starless Path’ is a song that exemplifies this in an excellent way. The following ‘The Witch Hunter’, on the other hand, starts off almost fleet-footed before the gray veil of history settles on the listener’s soul here once more.

Also to be mentioned is the slower and at the same time intense ‘White Christ’ which fascinates the listener with an almost hypnotic beat. In addition, the song is characterized by an immense density, which is difficult to resist.

Insomnium play with different elements. For example, ‘Godforsaken’ begins with Nordic-influenced female vocals and the roots of both, band and concept, are immediately apparent. That this quiet beginning quickly turns into a massive riff attack is not surprising, yet the female chants run through the song; in loud and quieter moments.

‘Lilian’ on the other hand is relatively straightforward and reminiscent of the Gothenburg sound of melodic death metal. It is the catchiest song on the longplayer while the acoustic guitars, paired with clean vocals, on ‘The Unrest’ reveal another nuance of the new Insomnium album.

‘Anno 1696’ has become an extremely good longplayer. Insomnium combines all the trademarks of their sound and connect them to a storyline that gets you hooked. The wait was certainly worth it, because what Insomnium deliver on this album is very solid. You have not experienced the band more holistically than on ‘Anno 1696’.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


  1. 1696
  2. White Christ (feat. Sakis Tolis)
  3. Godforsaken (feat. Johanna Kurkela)
  4. Lilian
  5. Starless Paths
  6. The Witch Hunter
  7. The Unrest
  8. The Rapids

Label: Century Media

Genre: .Melodic Death Metal

Release Date EU: February 24th, 2023




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