It’s a well-known fact that Finland is one of the leading countries when it comes to producing world-class metal acts year after year. Nowadays, the Finnish metal scene seems to be stronger than ever, with many bands touring all over the globe and headlining big festivals. One of the bands who has gathered great attention recently is INSOMNIUM, who released their eighth studio album “Heart Like a Grave” three weeks ago, going straight to the top of the Finnish album charts. To kickstart the “Tour Like a Grave”, they chose The Circus, located in the heart of Helsinki. Tickets were sold out quickly, but we managed to sneak ourselves into the venue on a rainy and foggy Friday evening.
The band in charge of warming up the audience was the also Finnish Melodeath ensemble BLOODRED HOURGLASS. And boy they did succeed at it. This band, originally from Mikkeli, has released four studio albums so far, the latest being “Godsend”. Their style is reminiscent of acts like CHILDREN OF BODOM and ARCH ENEMY, with plenty of melodic guitars, aggressive growls, and windmill headbanging. Their energetic show was mainly focused on their latest effort, with highlights such as the ultra-catchy “Waves of Black” and “Alysia”, blended with groovier tracks like “The Unfinished Story” and “Ask and you Shall Receive” and the super-aggressive “Pieces”. Their forty-minute set was very well received by a full house. Make sure to check out this band!
But we all came to see INSOMNIUM. After a short break, perfect to grab another beer, the Finns came to the stage a bit past ten PM. The club was so packed that it was hard to move around, so we stayed by the mixing table. Being the first date of the tour, we were very excited to witness the live debut of many of the songs from “Heart Like a Grave”, and what also made the occasion special was the fact that they would be performing with their three-guitar line-up. We don’t know for sure how the schedules of Ville Friman will look like in the future, so it’s always nice to get the chance to see him playing.
Following a short intro, they opened their set with the infectious “Valediction”, in which both Ville and Jani shared clean vocals, blending to perfection with Niilo’s growls. Based on the reaction of the audience and the sales of the last album, it seems like fans have truly embraced this release. The first live debut of the evening was the fast-paced but melodic “Neverlast”, one of my favorite songs from “Heart Like a Grave”, featuring amazing guitar work by the infernal trio. Before we were able to take a breath, Niilo introduces “Into the Woods” and the crowd goes bonkers with it. The level of energy in the club just kept growing and growing, and also did the temperature.
To cool down things a bit, they go back to “One for Sorrow” with a track they hadn’t played in a while. I’m talking about “Through the Shadows”, which worked very well with three guitars and double clean vocals. The melodic chorus is chanted by the audience with their fists in the air, turning instantly into an epic moment. But what we were all waiting for was about to come: the live debut of “Pale Morning Star”, which is arguably one of the best songs not only from their newest album but also in their whole catalogue. The eight-minute journey into the Finnish psyche was executed flawlessly and became one of the most special postcards of the evening for those who were there.
With “Change of Heart” they go back to full-speed, crushing everyone’s necks on their way without mercy. The clean guitars add some contrast and give room for a cathartic experience. “And Bells They Toll” also gets its first live performance. I must admit that I wasn’t initially impressed by this track but it’s certainly growing on me with every listen. The chorus is so catchy that it is almost meant to be sung by thousands. In terms of overall live performance, one of the highlights of the show was “Mute Is My Sorrow”, which sounded even more captivating than in the record. I hope that this will become one of the staples in their future sets because it just kicks so much ass.
A confident Niilo Sevänen drops a few jokes and incites the audience to be wilder and louder than Tampere, where they will play their next show. “Ephemeral” is their first nod to the excellent “Shadows of the Dying Sun”, and it helps to keep the energy flowing with its contagious melody and almost danceable rhythm. The long and dense “In the Grooves of Death” allows the guitar players to indulge in several intricate duels. The chemistry on stage between Markus Vanhala and Jani Liimatainen is evident as they go on making silly tricks to each other. It is very nice to see a band enjoying themselves so much, which of course sets the mood for the audience. Time for a short break.
The encore starts with the powerful “The Primeval Dark”, building up the ground for the irresistibly catchy anthem “While We Sleep”. Although it’s no way near one of their heaviest or fastest songs, its melody is so recognizable and iconic that the crowd reacts with a spontaneous moshpit, which pleases the band. They briefly leave the stage once more before one last number. The cherry on top of their set is the live debut of title-track “Heart Like a Grave”, preceded by a beautiful acoustic guitar intro by Markus and Jani wearing cowboy hats. The result is very atmospheric, and everyone seems mesmerized by what we just witnessed. After eighty minutes of intense melodeath, it’s time to go home.
All-in-all, it was an evening to remember. “Heart Like a Grave” is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year and it was an honor to attend its release show. Although the club was a bit too crowded for my taste, the sound was excellent, and the band seemed very touched by the response of the local audience. This seems to be the situation all over their home country since every show in the Finnish leg of the tour is already sold out. As usual, the queue to get out of The Circus was endless and tedious, but it didn’t matter anymore, because the night was still young and who could sleep after such an amazing show anyway.
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Article by David Araneda
Photos by Laureline Tilkin
- Into the Woods
- Through the Shadows
- Pale Morning Star
- Change of Heart
- And Bells They Toll
- Mute Is My Sorrow
- In the Groves of Death
- The Primeval Dark
- While We Sleep
- Heart Like a Grave