Holy moly, what a lineup! For a melo-death fan such as myself, this list of bands was somewhat of a dream come true. Not only were Insomnium returning to our shores, but also they were bringing arguably two of the best bands to come out of Finland in recent years.
First up on the stage were winter metallers Wolfheart (9). Having sadly never been able to see Tuomas’ previous bands, Black Sun Aeon & Before the Dawn, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing this group perform. Coming on stage to the opening track from 2013’s Winterborn, Wolfheart immediately set about bringing their unique style of metal to the crowds. Most of the talking in between songs was handled by bassist Lauri while frontman King Tuomas, complete with signature Amfisound guitar and winter-inducing growls, pummelled everything in sight. With a set drawing heavily on their first album and the new single “Boneyard” being played, the band delivered a spectacular set and I can’t wait to hear their new album and also see them again!
Next up on the stage were fellow Finns, Barren Earth (10). I wasn’t too familiar with their material prior to this show if I’m honest. I’d heard bits and pieces of songs but never really had chance to properly listen to them. Coming on stage to “The Leer” from 2010’s Curse of the Red River, right from the get-go I was transported away to a world of abundant melodies. Their unique blend of melo-death with slower doomy elements instantly reminded me of Paradise Lost and Dark Tranquillity; arguably two of the best melodeath and doom metal bands around these days. The highlight of their set for me had to be when they played “Set Alight” from 2015’s On Lonely Towers. The soaring cleans and expressive harsh vocals of vocalist Jón Aldará were truly awe-inspiring and sounded beautiful amidst the rest of the soundscape coming from the band. Unfortunately however, there were a few technical issues that seemed to plague their set. This didn’t really affect them too much as they powered on a delivered a truly mesmerising set. As with Wolfheart, I eagerly await their next album and return to the UK!
It was then time for the boys in Insomnium (9.5) to come to the stage. Coming on to none other than last year’s 40-minute Winters Gate, the band exploded onto stage to a thunderous roar from a sold-out academy. After having played the song/album in full, the band came back on stage and proceeded to play a set comprised of songs from all across their back catalogue. It was also at this point that the crowdsurfers starting coming and they were handled in the most appalling manner I have ever seen. People being grabbed by their hair or by the crotch and hauled over the barrier and then either chucked down the pit or escorted by the hair out.
But enough about that as it’s been dealt with. The band gave an impressive encore performance as well. They came off stage after playing “The Promethean Song” and walked back on to “Equivalence” from 2009’s Across The Dark. Finishing with what is now the customary ending track, “Weighed Down With Sorrow”, Insomnium delivered a superb set which was marred only slightly by the guitars being a little too muddy. Then again, that could have been from where I was up on the balcony but it’s hard to tell…
All photos by Katie Frost.