Do you smell that?
Fall – the sun is starting to set earlier, everything is becoming slightly darker, and we are now barreling towards the last quarter of 2021 while we try to understand how time has passed so quickly. However, this also means I can get my hands (and ears) on some of the most anticipated releases I have been waiting for most of the year. This includes three (!) upcoming melodic death releases, one of which I have been waiting for quite a long time. One such anticipated release is Insomnium, whose newest EP, Argent Moon, is what I would describe as a (softer) melodeath metal campfire story split into four parts.
The melodeath metal renaissance is upon us, and it’s not stopping for anyone.
Argent Moon picks up where Heart Like A Grave left off, acting more as an addendum to the versatility and musicianship of said album. While Heart Like A Grave showcased Insomnium’s heaviness with the more melancholic aspects of death metal, Argent Moon is a calmer, warmer offering, while still blanketed in melancholy and a hopeful sense of gloom. Listening to the EP conjures images of soft-lit skies as the sun sets, colored in hues of orange and purples, while a warm, crackling fire adds to the simple intimacy of sharing stories. It’s incredibly expressive and solemn, allowing the listener to sit and reflect within the musical space. However, it also reminds me of dark nights after everyone has gone to bed, with lamp light offering warmth and a tether to time, and you can only sit and listen to the night’s stillness as you will yourself to work and to continue doing what you need to do.
In the case of Insomnium, the last rings true: the tour for Heart Like A Grave coincided with a global pandemic and the inability to tour as concerts were either postponed or cancelled entirely. In a sense, one can see that Argent Moon is an outlet for the sadness of not being able to connect with others, of being unable to perform yet having to continue to work towards something as you sat, unable to do anything. For me, Argent Moon reflects what was lost, starting with the manifestation of a sense of optimism (and a small, potential nod to one of their past touring partners, the band Conjurer) and ending with a quiet resolve that things, in the end, will improve. The music itself is a roadmap to the stages of grief, with the first song doing the heavy lifting for the first two stages (denial and anger); “The Reticent” handling the work of bargaining, where the person hopes to avoid a cause of grief by not revealing what they are thinking; “The Antagonist” deals with the stage of depression, where the person thinks that nothing will improve; and, lastly, “The Wanderer” is acceptance. It’s a story that, divided into four seamless parts, fundamentally says something about humanity as a whole: we are resilient and we can work towards rebuilding ourselves back up.
What I love most about Argent Moon is how the music flows seamlessly from one track to the next. Although this is very reminiscent of Winter’s Gate – especially in how this EP is essentially a long track divided into four movements – Argent Moon is cohesive and it gives each individual song a moment to shine in its inherent space. While everyone will have their favorites, I personally enjoyed “The Reticent” and “The Wanderer” the most, for entirely different reasons: one because it speaks to my specific state of mind and the other because, despite everything, there is something to look forward to. In its inherent simple intimacy, Argent Moon channels the frustration and hope we have experienced into an expression of defiance, a testament to our stubbornness and longevity.