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Insomnium, live in London

Support: Fleshgod Apocalypse

In many ways Italians Fleshgod Apocalypse and Finnish conquerors Insomnium make for an intriguing partnership, their sound, approach and even aesthetic standing in stark contrast to one another – no bad thing mind you, and certainly a welcome change to the cookie cutter approach of many tour packages at the moment.

Though obviously the underdogs tonight, the reception to Fleshgod Apocalypse [9] is a reassuringly warm one and indeed it might be, since on this occasion they offer the stronger performance of the two. A curious and unique outfit in many regards, they have taken bold steps to remove the symphonic metal genre from the slickness and commerciality that usually defines it, their dynamic and almost hyperactive approach a world away from the more flowing efforts that normally accompany the orchestration of heavy music.

Interestingly, on stage they rather recall Cradle Of Filth in their younger, hungrier days, all gothic swagger and an intense theatricality and sense of purpose that extends to short pre-song lyrical explanations. It could so easily fall flat of course, but this is a bad whose complex compositions are simply too compelling and invigorating to fail, their twitchiness and energy matched by well-considered songcraft. Okay, the female vocals drop in and out of audibility occasionally, but there’s little else to flaw here, the abrasiveness of their technical death metal parts expertly juxtaposed with the neoclassical melodrama.

No melodrama from Insomnium [7] – but then that isn’t quite the band’s forte. Over the years they have built themselves an enviable reputation - not to mention a loyal fanbase – thanks to a flowing and relatively subtle sound, their records rich examples of the emotive possibilities that the often-sterile genre of melodic death metal can boast when married to the sort of melancholy and epic vision that has made fellow Finns Swallow The Sun so effective.

Live too they are certainly an enjoyable outfit, their more than able musical abilities allowing them to pull off these strangely-gentle songs with ease, the material recreated with an understated cool. If anything it’s a little bit too gentle at times, the material’s dynamics lost a little, the advantages of the studio setting not balanced out by quite as pronounced a sense of performance as one might hope. Not that every band has to wear make-up or leap into the crowd of course, but there’s something to be said for a little bit of energy and audience engagement during a show.

Still, to be fair, this element is undoubtedly more pronounced because of the preceding act’s set and certainly the crowd here are happy enough tonight – fairly static perhaps, but with smiles on their faces. And as with Opeth and the like, this is perhaps a band to sit back and enjoy rather than rock out to.

Setlist

The Primeval Dark While We Sleep Revelation Daughter Of The Moon Only One Who Waits The Harrowing Years Weather The Storm The Elder Last Statement Ephemeral The Promethean Song The Gale Mortal Share Unsung Weighed Down With Sorrow