Album of the Year 2016 – Number 14

Hello and welcome to the latest post in my Album of the Year 2016 top 30 countdown, one man’s lone opinion in a tumultuous worldwide sea of opinions about music.

As I have said before, I am picking my albums based on one thing: the impact that they have made on me during the past 12 months. I don’t care if the artist is big, small, underground or more mainstream – it is the music that counts and that alone.

as a result, there will be choices that I make that some of you will disagree with and certainly some omissions that many of you will find glaring and unbelievable. However, I have spent the year listening to and reviewing as much music as it was humanly possible for one man to do properly. But I have missed things and there are definitely albums that have passed me by simply by coming along at the wrong time. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with my choices and stand by them wholeheartedly…I think!

If you want to read any of the other posts in this series, the links to these re at the bottom of this post – please feel free to check them out and comment appropriately.

And, with that said, let’s get on with today’s choice…

Number 14

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Insomnium
Winter’s Gate
Century Media Records

 

“As it turns out…‘Winter’s Gate’ is better than I ever really dared to imagine. It contains everything that I like in my extreme metal, namely strong melodic sensibilities, drama, intensity, frequent changes in tempo, texture and mood and an overall feeling that the band believe 100% in this work, that it is as honest as it is undeniably pretentious. And I don’t mean this last comment negatively either, because damn it, I love pretentious music if it has the substance to back it up.

Epic’ is a word used far too often in music reviews. However, ‘Winter’s Gate’ deserves this adjective. With it, Insomnium have arguably created their masterpiece, their tour-de-force. People will be talking about this record for years to come and rightly so. ‘Winter’s Gate’ has been created by a band at the top of their game …”

Read the full review here

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The thought of an album comprised of a single 40-minute track is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many. In a day and age where attention spans are eroding faster than the polar ice caps, it is a brave move to attempt such a feat in 2016. However, Finnish melodeathers Insomnium felt up to the challenge, duly releasing ‘Winter’s Gate’ as the vehicle for this ambitious endeavour.

Any concerns I had about this release were expunged within moments of pressing play for the first time. This isn’t some garage band producing something for a laugh, ‘Winter’s Gate’ is the real deal, released by a band who have proved that they have the musicianship as well as the song-writing know-how to succeed and succeed very well indeed.

This concept piece has been laced with rich and evocative atmospheres and creates more than enough drama to ensure that listeners become fully invested in the music. Passages of quiet introspection collide with moments of all-out aggression, whilst both gentle and grandiose melodies vie with segments that are far more non-conformist, spikier and less immediate. The whole thing comes together to do exactly what it is supposed to do, namely to tell a story and take the listener on a journey through the medium of doom-tinged epic melodic death metal.

Crucially, I’m as sold on this album as I was when it was released. That’s the hallmark of quality right there.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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