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DATE: Friday 24th January 2020
VENUE: Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Sole support band on Insomnium’s run of ten UK shows are relative newcomers Conjurer. With their debut album, ‘Mire’, released just two years ago, there’s already been a lot of buzz about this Midlands-based bunch. And I can see precisely why during their show tonight. Whereas their Finnish tour buddies are proponents of musical melancholy, these Brits have a sound that is dense with layers of sludge-fuelled blackened metal discharge, and all delivered with an energy and vibrancy that belies the oppressively despairing underpinnings of the songs. It’s kind of like a downbeat aggression. There are a sporadicity of mellower moments in the songs that provide temporary relief but, predominantly, it's all about despair ridden angst and arse vibrating bass heaviness. And it’s fucking fantastic! An emotionally hard hitting slab of grim metal. Unrelentingly grim.

It’s an interesting stage formation the band have, too… evidently well thought out, with the two guitarists/vocalists, Dan Nightingale and Brady Deeprose, stage left and right, and bassist Conor Marshall taking centre stage, in front of drummer Jan Krause (the latter two provide a pummelling rhythm section). And it’s Marshall who undoubtedly becomes the central focus point, flailing his hair and body around for the band’s entire performance. Collectively, this bunch conjure up a gloriously discordant racket where dissonance reigns and bleakness prevails, in the most entertaining of ways.
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Insomnium at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK, 24th January 2020
Photograph copyright © 2020 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
At 8:30pm, Insomnium appear on stage, and are greeted with loud, enthusiastic cheers from the masses of peeps rammed into a near-sold out Rescue Rooms. Not quite a capacity crowd, but very well damn near one, with punters squashed into the venue from the main floor right up to the balcony. Interestingly, the last time Insomnium played the Rescue Rooms was eight years ago, as support to Paradise Lost. Now, back in 2020 as headliners as part of a ten show run over here, it seems their popularity has boomed in the intervening years.

Equipped with what many have declared to be a career-best album, last year’s rather fantastic ‘Heart Like a Grave’, a generous portion of this new material features in their current set. Although people would only be witnessing Insomnium as a four piece - ironic, then, that OMNI are the only letters from the logo on their backdrop that are visible from out front! Ville Friman is off the tour due to work commitments at York University. However, with The Dark Element and ex-Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen now permanently in the fold, the band will never be lacking. Bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen, drummer Markus Hirvonen and guitarist Markus Vanhala all turn in amazing performances alongside Liimatainen, and this formation more than do the material justice in a live context (albeit some songs’ acoustic guitar parts feature on backing tracks, so it can’t be said it’s all 100 per cent live).

While large parts of Insomnium’s music might be steeped in swathes of Finnish melancholy, the mood and general atmosphere in the Rescue Rooms tonight is far from melancholic. It feels like a celebration of years of Insomnium bliss, where melancholic melodies become uplifting anthems from a band who are axiomatically adored by their fanbase. 2006 is as early as it gets for set material, with a couple of tracks from ‘Above the Weeping World’ (‘Change of Heart’; ‘In the Groves of Death’). A small selection of songs from their post-2006 albums also get an airing (with the exception of the single 40 minute track that constituted 2016’s ‘Winter’s Gate’), alongside half a dozen ‘Heart Like a Grave’ numbers. ‘And Bells They Toll’ and ‘Mute is My Sorrow’ sound particularly fantastic this evening. In fact, everything sounds great, with a very decent mix through the desk.

Over an hour into their set and perennial fan favourite ‘While We Sleep’ gets an anticipated airing, while the new album’s title track provides an epically atmospheric climax to what has been a rather fantastic evening of the finest Finnish metal. Bows are taken on stage, then fans leave the venue in what is clearly a euphoric rather than melancholic mood.
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