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Thursday 26th April 2012
Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Tonight is a matter of re-acquainting myself with opening band Vreid as it's three years since I last caught the Norwegians in action on Pestilence's comeback tour. Unfortunately, it's not the best of occasions to rediscover their usually effective blend of black metal with a 70s/80s rockier slant as they sound, quite frankly, awful from the off and throughout the duration of their set. To blame is a tinny sounding snare that is way too high in the mix through the PA which kills any punch the guitars/bass/vocals might otherwise have had, as sonically dominant as it is. To be fair, the band's usual drummer, Steingrim, has been forced to sit out the tour and has been temporarily replaced by Emancer sticksman Tomas Myklebust, who does a great job with the songs although they're deprived of potency through a misjudgement by whoever's on the desk. It's a shame because songs from last year's 'V' album (a predictably titled fifth full-length for the band), 'Arche' and 'The Sound of the River', sit alongside tracks that represents Vried's other four releases in a pleasingly varied setlist. However, the versions they deliver of 'Helvete', 'Disciplined', 'Svart', 'Raped by Light', 'Then We Die' and 'Pitch Black', along with the two new album tracks, fall flat due to the aforementioned sound problems and, looking around the venue at the largely static reaction of those who've been able or bothered to show for the early start of 6:40pm, the bad sound seems to dampen most others' enjoyment too.
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After the mess of a sound that plagued Vreid's set, a twenty or so minutes change-over time sees Insomnium arrive on stage to kick off with new album tracks 'Inertia' and 'Through the Shadows' with refreshing sonic clarity. Each element of the instrumentations can be clearly heard through the PA, topped off nicely by vocalist/bassist Niilo Sevänen's growls. As such, and coupled with a tight delivery, their melo-death discharge is incisively effective tonight. Add to that mix a dynamic performance where band members remain energetic in their movement from start to finish (albeit striking every clichéd pose from the heavy metal bible), this rising Finnish crew make for an exciting band to watch on the live stage. Setlist-wise, the bias is towards last year's 'One For Sorrow' from which the title track, 'Only One Who Waits', and 'Unsung' are also aired and each composition well received although it's the scattering of earlier material in proceedings that seems to excite a few audience members who are attired in the band's t-shirts. The newest addition to Insomnium's lineup, Markus Vanhala, from fellow Finnish melo-deathsters Omnium Gatherum, impresses with his virtuoso fretboard antics and, from a distance, with his Flying V, beard, and imitative poses, somewhat resembles one Alexi Laiho but, of course, these Finns have yet to rise to the heights of Bodom's popularity. They're getting there though and, after witnessing them in action at the Rescue Rooms tonight, they're more than ready to challenge the hegemony of the melo-death scene's biggest acts.
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As lights dim and ubiquitous cheers fill a packed venue, intro music plays through the PA which takes the form of 'Desolate', the closing instrumental piece from Paradise Lost's early nineties sophomore album, 'Gothic'. Band members take to the stage to further cheers from an enthusiastic crowd and we're suddenly taken right into the present as they commence with 'Honesty in Death' from recently released new album 'Tragic Idol'. Then follows a varied set with at least one song performed with energetic precision from each of Paradise Lost's considered classic albums along material from more recent years and three other new album tracks - 'In This We Dwell'; 'Tragic Idol'; and 'Fear of Impending Hell'. However, as energetic as the band are with the symmetry of guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy headbanging away stage left and stage right for the duration, the audience's initial enthusiasm, with the exception of some movement by a few punters against the front barrier, gives way to a bit of static response. Having said that, there's still huge cheers and applause at end of each song performed so maybe it's a case of it being a Thursday night and people aren't quite ready to get into weekend party mode just yet (and, strangely, Paradise Lost's lengthy thirteen date UK tour is entirely devoid of Saturday shows). Nick Holmes does sporadically attempt to involve the audience by inviting them to clap along to which many oblige, but such moments are few. The frontman's laidback, sarcastic-tinged humour is also offered up at choice moments throughout the evening, including a spiel about pronouncing Nottingham in different dialects although he only seems to speak with his native Halifax accent when demonstrating such. He even introduces 'Soul Courageous' with the assertion that he's "85% certain this next track is from our second album". It is, of course, from their sixth, 'One Second', so perhaps he's alluding to the seminality of its predecessor, 'Draconian Times'? Only 'Forever Failure' is aired from the latter which leaves plenty of time for other classics such as 'Shades of God' tracks 'Pity the Sadness' and 'As I Die' and 'Widow' from 'Icon'. Whether or not Paradise Lost's music sparks any kind of mass movement in the crowd matters little for it's evident everyone present is fully appreciative of, and impressed by, what they hear from this seminal British metal act who are on fine form. Finishing up with four encore numbers - 'One Second'; the aforementioned 'Fear of Impending Hell'; 'Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us'; and 'Say Just Words', the Halifax lads (and Swede) prove their legendary status with what's been a superlative performance.
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Insomnium at the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK, 26th April 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
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