Insomnium – Sound Control, Manchester 17/01/16

insomnium manchesterAfter being awake since 4am, perhaps the last thing I should have done was go to a gig that would involve me getting home at almost 3am, but considering Insomnium were going to be playing their Winter’s Gate album in full at the show, it would have been silly to pass up on what was destined to be a great night.

Opening up the show was Wolfheart, a band I’ve seen twice already overseas (with Swallow The Sun in Germany and at last year’s Nummirock) so it was nice to be able to see them on home soil for a change, and it was the best performance I’ve seen from them to date. The band got the night off to a great start and what was especially good was that there was a good chunk of the crowd that was really into them, singing along and giving them a good response – not bad for an opening support act! And despite there being a few complaints of the guitars being too loud onstage, the levels seemed to be fine from my point of view in the crowd, so hopefully it was just a problem limited to the stage. And although the set was only 30 minutes in duration, Wolfheart also included plenty of good songs, such as Strength And Valor, and new single Boneyard which went down a storm! It was an all-round great performance that set the scene well for the rest of the night.

Main support came from Barren Earth, and although I wasn’t the biggest fan of their latest album On Lonely Towers, I was still interested in seeing how the songs translated in a live environment, as well as hearing how vocalist Jón took on their older material. The new material certainly sounded better in a live environment, but as I mentioned in my review of the album, the clean vocals were somewhat weak and although the harsh vocals packed a serious punch, the contrast in quality between the two left it sounding quite disappointing as a result. However, he was an engaging and interesting performer, and the band worked so well as a unit, giving a tight and empowered performance – and guitarist Janne is always such an involved performer that it’s always so fun to watch him interacting with both his bandmates and the crowd! So really, aside from a semi-minor complaint, it was a good set from the band.

The room was pretty much packed by the time Insomnium were due onstage, with the temperature in the crowd becoming a little unbearable with everyone packed tightly together down at the front, but Insomnium brought the winter in a musical sense with a full rendition of their Winter’s Gate album, a piece of work consisting of one sole song divided up into seven parts. To say it was an absolute treat to witness this song in the flesh is somewhat of an understatement; whilst the song is magical on CD, it somehow has an extra dimension in a live environment and you can’t help but just get lost in the music as the band progresses on their music journey, with you on-board as a passenger.

The band also played a good mix of older songs once they were finished with Winter’s Gate, including Change Of Heart and The Gale, but perhaps my favourite song of the night was crowd favourite The Promethean Song, which featured a very moving clean vocal delivery that gave me goosebumps as I sang along at the top of my voice to it!

As a whole, it was a fantastic night with all three bands putting on a great show. The lineup was well put-together, with the three bands all complementing one another, and was most definitely the perfect start to my 2017 gig year!

About Natalie Humphries 1780 Articles
Soundscape's editor, who is particularly fond of doom, black metal and folk (but will give anything a chance). Likes to travel to see bands abroad when she can. Contact: nathumphries@soundscapemagazine.com or @acidnat on twitter.

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