Insomnium

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insomnium

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With last year’s literally epic album, “Winters Gate”, Insomnium defied not only the conventional boundaries of music, but also tested the very fabric of a release.

Rather than have separate tracks as is expected, Winters Gate was one forty minute song that told a sweeping, grandiose story of an ancient time and place that is not bound by any history books or documentaries.

“I think we wanted to try something different,” explained vocalist and bass player Niile Sevanen. “It was something certainly we had never done before and it made things interesting for ourselves as well because we’d done albums already that had the usual nine or ten songs but we wanted to do something fresh. It all started when we were rehearsing the songs for the previous alum, Shadows of the Dying Sun. When we were doing that one night we drank some wine and put on some classic albums and we started playing along with them and thought wouldn’t it be great to try something like this? Let’s try having one really long song and then a couple of years later we actually did it.”
It is something that has rarely been seen I the music world, one continuous musical piece that spanned an entire album, but Sevanen feels the fans have embraced the concept as much as the band themselves.

“I think the fans really loved it,” he enthused. “All of our fans have been really positive about it but it also gained us a fresh fan base that had never gotten into the band before. We released a short story with the album as well so it is really a unique package. It pleased the people who have supported Insomnium from the start but also appealed to new fans who were curious. The response has been great when we have played the album live which is always a good sign.”

The concept behind the album is actually based on something Sevanen wrote in his youth that was never intended to be made into an album but was too strong of an idea to ignore.

“The short story that comes with the album is something I wrote about ten years ago that actually won a competition I entered it in,” he divulged. “It was initially just supposed to be a personal piece but we turned it into an album. It’s a story about a group of Vikings who go looking for battle and they find a mythical island and get into trouble there which is how the story starts. I really don’t want to reveal any more than that but (laughs) it would spoil the journey.”

While admitting certain aspects of production on Winters Gate provided unforeseen obstacles, Sevanen says that as a whole recording an album with one prolonged piece of music was no different than a normal album.

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“Actually it was pretty much the same,” he suggested. “We recorded everything in parts so I doesn’t matter if you make a forty minute song or eight songs but composing it and arranging it and putting it all together was different of course. You had to think a much bigger kind of arc for the song and how it evolved to keep it interesting. It was difficult and a bit challenging but in the end very satisfying.”

Which isn’t to say that the next album will follow the same path.

“It’s hard to say” Sevanen laughed. “We haven’t talked about the next album yet but I think it will be more of a traditional album but you never know. We might try something new again but time will tell.”

Not content to savour in their success as just a release, Insomnium will be playing Winters Gate in its entirety on their upcoming tour of Australia, with Sevanen excited by the prospect of performing the concept live.

“We will be playing the whole forty minute song,” he revealed, “and then some of our older songs after that so it’s going to be a cool evening for sure. We have played the album already throughout Europe and we stop at Russia and Sweden and Norway on the way then we have two nights at home before we fly to China and Japan and finally Australia so we will be well practiced by the time we get there. Things have been progressing well for the band over the last couple of years so we can’t wait to spread our music even further.”

Insomnium’s music is best described as a marriage of Scandinavian death metal and more traditional Finnish music, but Sevanen argues that while those influences may be prevalent their sound has a distinctively original feel. “It was something that came really naturally,” he said of their sound. “We just started making music we wanted to make and music we loved and slowly we found our own sound and our own style. There was no grand strategy or plan behind this; we have just always played stuff that comes from the heart. We don’t try to please the label or the fans or anyone else, we just do exactly what we want and play what we are feeling and what makes us happy. We’ve been doing this for twenty years and the bands you can blame for that are bands we listened to when we were teenagers; Scandinavian death metal bands and stuff like that. That’s how we got into this style of music so those bands like Dark Tranquility and In Flames can be blamed that we are here and started this band (laughs).”

Written by Kris Peters

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Written by Carl Neumann

Carl is the owner and the director of HEAVY Magazine. Carl is a music journalist and photographer for HEAVY, Rolling Stone, scenestr, Planet Rock and Kerrang!

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