Okay, so there are several reasons to why I should not write this:
- I wrote about Insomnium as recently as in June when they played at Provinssi in this same city.
- Risk for clouded sense of objectivity due to fanboyism.
- I should be working on my M.A. thesis.
However, there is one important thing that crushes these arguments, and this thing is called Winter’s Gate. But let us first deal with the two other bands that played this night.
The progressive metal band Pressure Points was the first band to play. The band did not get more than about half an hour, but I think they managed this time well. I had not listened to these guys before, but I did listen to most of their second and latest album False Lights the day before and it sounded quite interesting. There were some really cool vocal harmonies, interesting tempos and impressive guitar playing in this live show. Of course, it is fairly difficult to say much about such a short gig, but I really think those who like progressive stuff should check this band out. We would get more of guitarist/vocalist Kari Olli later this night since he filled in for Insomnium’s Ville Friman who could not be present this time around.
I have never seen Swallow the Sun live for some strange reason, so it was very convenient that they performed before Insomnium this Friday. This gig must be one of the strangest and most ambiguous I have ever witnessed. I do not mean this as a bad thing. The band started by playing the first half of the set in a semi-acoustic manner with songs such as The Heart of a Cold White Land and Songs from the North, and then suddenly passed into the heavy 10 Silver Bullets, which by the way is an awesome live song. After this followed songs like Hate, Lead the Way!, New Moon and Descending Winters.
I feel a little split about the setlist. I do think it is an interesting move to play several acoustic songs, but I would personally prefer if one of these songs were dropped in favour of another heavy song in this context. For example, the title track Songs from the North, where there is a great deal of female vocal backtrack, could be replaced with a song from the heavy third disc of the latest massive triple album Songs from the North. The situation would be another if Swallow the Sun was the main attraction and thus would have a longer set. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and well played set.
Now to this night’s main attraction. Insomnium just released the new album Winter’s Gate about two weeks ago. I did not get my hands on it until last Thursday, but I have listened to it a lot the last week. This is the thing: I love the band from earlier, but this album is something out of the ordinary. I know it is really way too early to say this, but I am still pretty sure that it will end up as one of my all time favourite albums. The one-track-forty-minute-album has no weak parts whatsoever, and it offers sides of Insominum that we have not seen fully before. In my opinion, it is the band’s heaviest, darkest, fastest and most progressive album so far. In other words, it is epic death metal at its best. Also, the production is outstanding.
Naturally, I had very high expectations for the show, but at the same time I was a little afraid that it would not live up to the album standard. But, goodness gracious, it did. As mentioned earlier, Kari Olli stepped in when Friman was not available, and he did a very good job indeed. Markus Hirvonen proved that he is a monster behind the drums, bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen delivers massive growls and refined bass playing, and Markus Vanhala plays first-rate guitar. It is just so awesome to get to hear such an epic as Winter’s Gate in its entirety live. The wall of sound that is created is monumental when the song is performed so well. Insomnium has without a doubt developed a great deal as a live band in the last few years.
I have earlier only seen Insomnium at festivlas, so this was actually the first time I got to hear them play a full set. The band began with the whole of Winter’s Gate and then moved on to songs such as The Gale, Mortal Share, Drawn to Black, The Killjoy, Ephemeral, The Promethean Song, While We Sleep, Where the Last Wave Broke and wrapped the set up with the always marvellous Weighed Down with Sorrow. Above the Weeping World is thus still very much present in the setlist due to its ten year anniversary. It must have been a great set since my neck can barely hold my head where it is supposed to be today, and this is, as we all know, a very good standard measure of value.
If you, like me and other sensible human beings, enjoy Winter’s Gate, you have to go see Insomnium perform it live if you have a chance now when they play the whole thing in Finland or later during the European tour in January. We do not know when this will happen again, if it will happen again at all. Take the chance now, because this is some of the best acts Finland has to offer. But beware, Insomnium has now released the beasts of winter!