Back in 2020, when we last caught up with Niilo Sevänen of Insomnium, he hinted that they were already writing new music, just following the unfortunate cancellation of their US tour supporting prior release Heart Like A Grave. Now, in the latter half of 2021, there’s the rising of Argent Moon, a four-track EP showcasing their softer side – out September 17th on Century Media.
Generally, Insomnium’s more melodic edge is saved for the closing of each album, and, for fans of tracks like “One For Sorrow” and “Weighted Down With Sorrow,” there’s plenty to appreciate on this all-too-brief EP. Opener “The Conjurer” – with naming perhaps inspired by their previous UK tour mates Conjurer – takes a melancholic trek through a key rarely seen in Insomnium’s previous work. There are moments here of bombastic strings (from long-time collaborator Aleksi Munter) and shimmering lead guitar lines from Markus Vanhala which wouldn’t feel out of place in Dream Theater’s back catalogue; “The Count of Tuscany” in particular comes to mind.
If the opener is Vanhala’s time to shine, then second track “The Reticent” gives the Finns’ most recent member centre stage in the clean vocals of Jani Liimatainen – with writing from original member and fellow clean vocalist Ville Friiman. Within this second track and in follower “The Antagonist” that progressive edge to the band really comes to the fore with, again, scales and tonalities infrequently found in Insomnium’s back catalogue on display. This edge is inarguably most visible previously in the one-track concept album epic, Winter’s Gate (2016), and both the quality of these tracks and Sevänen teasing the possibility of another concept in future will leave fans salivating of what yet more may be to come.
As the final track “The Wanderer” draws to a conclusion with the rallying cry of ‘For death will never touch me, until I find my poor soul’ there’s a sense that what’s been made publicly available is a true, raw glimpse into the mindset of the artist through what’s been a particularly challenging period – the press release for the EP notes wanting to see ‘what kind of new music might grow in the darkness and misery of the quarantine,’ with that sense of bleakness shown on Heart Like A Grave multiplied and feeling more personal than ever. There are few out there who can invoke emotion in their music in this manner of strength with such consistency.
An established artist such as Insomnium releasing an EP can feel like an unusual move, but the opportunity and decision have been seized firmly; showcasing a different and complementary side to their songwriting, as well as bringing these more melodic tracks together in a coherent manner. For long term fans, such as this writer, it’s a tantalizing glimpse of a band going from strength to strength and still innovating, and for those who prefer their melodic death with a heavy emphasis on the former, there’s the potential to find a new love in one of the genre’s finest artists. Rather than being a curiosity to be disregarded, Argent Moon feels like essential listening for fans of modern melodic death metal.
Argent Moon Track Listing:
1. The Conjurer
2. The Reticent
3. The Antagonist
4. The Wanderer
Run Time: 23:11
Release Date: September 17, 2021
Record Label: Century Media Records