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LIVE REVIEW: Insomnium @ Sound Control, Manchester

Finnish melodic death metallers INSOMNIUM have been forging their career for two decades now and with their unique sound being both hauntingly beautiful and utterly destructive, their live performances have a reputation of being emotionally charged to say the least. Last year saw the band release their most ambitious record to date, Winter’s Gate, a concept record of one epic 40 minute song. Now, 2017 saw the band embark on a headlining tour in support of their new opus by performing the record in it’s entirety alongside cuts from their established back catalogue.

Wolfheart live @ Sound Control. Photo Credit: Becky Callaghan
Wolfheart live @ Sound Control. Photo Credit: Becky Callaghan

Opening proceedings however was Finnish melodic death metal outfit WOLFHEART whose frost-bitten musical output matched the rest of the bill in fine fashion. Despite initial sound problems limiting the impact of Tuomas Saukkonen‘s harsh vocal deliveries, as the band progressed through their set the overall impact was consistently growing in size. The slick interplay between Saukkonen‘s rhythm and Mika Lammassaari‘s sorrowful lead guitar tones created a moving atmosphere that ebbed and flowed. At times, it was spell-binding, with Ghosts of Karelia being a particular highlight. A fine start to the evening’s proceedings.

Rating: 8/10

Barren Earth live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Becky Callaghan
Barren Earth live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Becky Callaghan

Similarly, BARREN EARTH consistently created a hauntingly moving atmosphere throughout their performance. The Finns’ blend of progressive metal won’t be breaking boundaries or taking the headlines but the talent at the group’s disposal was utilised to the fullest to create a truly mesmerising live performance. At times the band were utterly monstrous as Marko Tarvonen‘s vicious drumming carried the momentum at blistering pace which was complimented by a thick wall of sound from the dual riffing of guitarists Janne Perttilä and Sami Yli-Sirniö. For all their death metal driven output, it was when the band’s progressive and melodic elements took centre stage that truly helped BARREN EARTH capture the attention of the crowd. The subtlety of Kasper Mårtenson‘s keyboards drove melodies which created a sorrowful atmosphere, that and the fact this musical element only enhanced the rest of the band. It helped drive home Jón Aldará‘s guttural blasts and delicate cleans that sent shivers down the spine. It was a captivating live performance which closed with the monolithic epic, On Lonely Towers, which ensnared the crowd through spell-binding melodies and a truly emphatic closing solo. BARREN EARTH displayed a complicated and established sound and the result was a sight to behold.

Rating: 9/10

Insomnium live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Becky Callaghan
Insomnium live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Becky Callaghan

INSOMNIUM‘s decision to perform Winter’s Gate in its entirety seemed a bold move for some, as there were concerns as to whether the Finnish outfit could replicate the chilling atmosphere as witness on the album itself. However, as the band roared into the track, it quickly became clear this was the case as INSOMNIUM created a moving and captivating atmosphere from the get-go. As the band roared into life through the explosive drum work of Markus Hirvonen and Niilo Sevänen unleashed his signature growls, INSOMNIUM held the audience in the palm of their hands. This was only emphatically reinforced as the melodies and lighter elements of Winter’s Gate took centre-stage. The chillingly beautiful acoustic riffs, which complimented Ville Friman‘s clean vocal deliveries, drove the emotion only to subside as the band unleashed another barrage of emphatic dual riffing. It was a sight to behold and the live environment only helped build Winter’s Gate to an even bigger level.

For all the brilliance of delivering Winter’s Gate live, INSOMNIUM hit a bigger stride as the set evolved into performing their classic material. Each track was met with a thunderous reception and the momentum of the band’s performance seemed to only build in stature. From the sweeping riffs of Ville Friman and Markus Vanhala on While We Sleep to the tear-jerking chorus of The Promethean Song, INSOMNIUM created a beautiful atmosphere that was truly moving. Niilo Sevänen‘s vocals held up well in the live environment, with his harsh deliveries riding well over the massive sound, with the balance of this and the intricate lead riffs of Down With The Sun being replicated to studio perfection. By the time closing track Weighed Down With Sorrow roared on, INSOMNIUM had more than proved why they are top of the pile within melodic death metal. Consistently throughout their performance, the band replicated their iconic and moving sound and delivered it to the absolute maximum in the live setting.

Rating: 9/10

Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from photographer Becky Callaghan here:

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