Live at The Novo

Los Angeles, CA

September 15th, 2017

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Insomnium are considered a melodic death metal band but they also heavily incorporate sensibilities of progressive metal and have some tendencies towards doom, thrash, and symphonic metal as well.

Hailing from Finland, their esoteric and building songs will appeal to fans of Wintersun, Katatonia, Ensiferum, and Amon Amarth. They are most like Wintersun in that they combine extreme and melodic vocal styles as well as sweeping stories that span centuries.

Insomnium are made up of Niilo Sevänen on bass guitar and lead extreme vocals, Ville Friman on guitar and melodic vocals, Markus Vanhala on guitar, and Markus Hirvonen on drums. These four gentleman build a massive wall of sound with surprising intricacies and weaving narrative that blew me away.

Their latest masterpiece is a conceptual album in that the song titles are all numerical chapters in the overall tale of "Winter's Gate". This marks their sixth full length release since their inception fifteen years ago.

Their album titles reflect their introspective exploration of the universe, nature, sorrow, loss, and the meaning of life. A gothic melancholy can be felt purveying all of their work and instilling in it a sense of the profound mixed with beauty along with the sadness.

They opened the set with "The Primeval Dark", a powerful and haunting song that instantly pulled the audience into the world of Insomnium. This song came from their second to latest album, "Shadows Of The Dying Sun".

They performed "While We Sleep" from that same album, providing the same track order as the album itself to lay the tone of the concert before moving into the tale of "Winter's Gate".

They proceeded to play the first three chapters of the "Gate", its epic power and hallowed stories being played out in heavy walls of guitars combined with sweeping symphonic moments and juxtaposing with detailed progressive guitar work and beautiful melodic sang passages.

They parted from the story momentarily to give us a "Mortal Share" from 2006's "Above The Weeping World" which drew many cheers from the audience. Their music has that enrapturing quality where you get lost in all of the musical twists and turns to be brought back to a sensible conclusion each time.

They drove back to "Winter's Gate" to give us the fourth chapter from the album and concluding the portion of that story they were going to give us on this night. From there they proceeded to return to "Above The Weeping World" for "Change of Heart".

Their set list originally had on "Ephemeral" followed by "The Promethean Song" both from "Shadows of the Dying Sun" but I am not sure if they just shortened "Ephemeral" leading directly into "Promethean" or whether the former got dropped from the set list due to time restraints but "The Promethean Song" was an epic and fantastic way to end their set.

This was my first time seeing them live and they were amazing. Really fascinating to watch their skill of musicianship but also a great escape into an epic world of discovery. The lead singer was very animated even though he was occupied with laying down the heavy bass lines. Both guitarists pulled off blazing finger work and Ville has an amazing and moving voice that works so well against the rest of the band.

They were touring as support for Lacuna Coil and Epica and were a great choice as their subject matter and delivery fall in line with the intelligence and esoteric inspiration that these bands share in their song writing.

It was an awesome evening and I am glad to have finally seen these guys in the flesh. I am already looking forward to their next tour.

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