Live Review: Insomnium - O2 Academy, Islington, London
6th November 2023
Support: KVAEN, In Mourning
Words & Photos: Jacob Schwar
Taking place tonight at the O2 Islington which is a fairly disappointing venue personally though the roster made it worthwhile as this was the 2nd date of Insomnium’s tour across Europe which would be finishing up in Germany in December. Upon arrival the queue was vast which showed the dedication of the fans and also meant that the support acts for tonight must be worth seeing, so without further ado…
The first of tonight’s support acts were Swedish black metal outfit KVAEN who were in fact playing their debut London show and evidently to an already packed out venue was quite spectacular! Walking out on stage to the opening acoustic section from Bathory’s opus ‘A Fine Day To Die’ they kicked straight into the blistering ‘Sulphur Fire’ a powerful number with some intricate guitar work was a taste of things to come. Songs such as the eerily atmospheric and emotion packed ‘In Silence’ and the depressingly melodic ‘Damnations Jaw’ showcased the various bands within the blackened genre KVAEN take influence from with second wave and third wave to depressive suicidal black metal (dsbm) respectively. The crowd response seemed adequate enough with cheers and raised horns from the majority as often enough I’ve witnessed the ‘black metal support act’ often be passed by and not overly appreciated by the wider audience so it was great to see KVAEN receive ample praise throughout their ferocious set.
Up next and on the opposite side of extreme were fellow Swedes In Mourning playing a fairly progressive style of melodic death metal. Kicking off with the track ‘Thornwalker’ served as a perfect introduction to the sound of In Mourning with tight guitars, pummelling blast beats, emotive melodies and some clean singing thrown in. Following up with their latest single ‘The Broken Orbit’ with its chuggy riffs and intimidating yet emotion packed vocal performances.
Some further set highlights included the almost blackened ‘Sovereign’ with its incredible melody and a real fan favourite ‘Colossus’ demonstrating the proggy side to their music with some delicately poignant guitars alongside the haunting growl of the vocals. In Mourning put on a great if not emotive performance and it was clear to see from the now ecstatic crowd that such a performance was appreciated, if you like your death metal with plenty melody and something a little extra, be sure to check these chaps out!
Insomnium were up next and already the crowds were getting restless, the venue was completely packed at this point as anticipation filled the air. As the intro for the track ‘1696’ played on, out on stage they came, Finland’s finest in melodic death metal, the crowd literally roared. They tore through the track following up with ‘Ephemeral’, both guitarists Markus and Ville were on fire, moving around the stage being as photogenic as possible whilst supplying some killer riffs.
Further tracks included the truly epic ‘Pale Morning Star’, the viciously tight ‘Change Of Heart’ with its atmospheric acoustic sections and a more recent song ‘Song Of The Dusk’ from their recent EP of the same name, this track was a real highlight with its eerie vibe and excellent storytelling in the lyrics. Leadsinger and bassist Niilo had a striking stage presence reminding me a tad of a young Peter Steele in physique and stance at least, it was clear to see he was loving every minute of it, in fact the whole band seemed happy to be here, to be honest I’d be happy as well with a packed out venue on cold, miserable Monday evening in London!
Insomnium were phenomenal and I expected nothing less, the instrumentation was a sight to behold and they still prove themselves one of the best acts within the genre, definitely be checking them out next time they’re in the neighbourhood… just not at O2 Islington again as the venue is rightfully terrible but I digress.