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Insomnium (w/ In Mourning, Kvaen) Deliver a Memorable Night at O2 Academy Islington [Photos]

Finland’s finest melodeath masters Insomnium deliver a truly memorable night at O2 Academy Islington on Monday November 6, supported by In Mourning and Kvaen.



Insomnium on Nov 6, 2023, photo by Chris Andrews

Since the release of the latest album, Anno 1696, Insomnium have been busy. A further three-track EP with extras from the recording sessions has been released as Songs of the Dusk, and many a festival across mainland Europe and further afield has been hit. Now, an extensive headline tour throughout Europe kicks off in the UK, with night two at O2 Academy Islington in London.

Openers Kvaen are a somewhat heavier band on the spectrum than the other two playing tonight, with blastbeats scattered liberally in their pagan-influenced black metal. There’s often a frenetic pace in their music, with the contrast of those slower and more epic moments like in “Damnations Jaw” hitting all the harder as a result. These are their first shows in the UK, and with the whirling circle pit started in set closer to “Revenge by Fire,” you wouldn’t expect it to be long before they’re back again.

Main support comes from In Mourning, who brings us back to a melodic death metal core albeit with a heavily progressive edge – they’re a band that’s been on my ‘to see’ list ever since 2008’s Shrouded Divine, so it’s a delight to catch them this evening. They are a more cerebral headbanging affair than driving pits from the crowd but receive a no less enthusiastic response, albeit in a different way.

The triple-guitar approach combined with four alternating and complementing vocalists produces a diverse and unique sound for the genre, and closing with perhaps their most renowned track, “Colossus,” it feels they could have played three times as long. An incredibly consummate and engaging set hitting both the newly released track “The Broken Orbit” as well as one from their debut.

Insomnium take to the stage to the latest album opener “1696,” and hit the ground running – literally in the case of Markus Vanhala and Nick Cordle (of Omnium Gatherum, standing in for Jani Liimatainen), with the guitarists darting to each other’s stage side and putting on a more active show than you might expect from past shows of the band and one which typically focuses on Finnish melancholy. There’s a great amount of camaraderie between the two, and as a veteran of many past Insomnium shows, it’s something unique to this run.

The set list is balanced between old and new – surprisingly old in some cases, such as “Since The Day It All Came Down” – and the more recent tracks hold their own, too, with “White Christ” sounding especially huge. There’s a bit of a chaotic vibe through the faster sections of “The Rapids,” driven mainly by somewhat persistent technical issues plaguing drummer Markus Hirvonen, but otherwise, the four on stage rip through each track with not only perfection but additional live flourish, particularly with the guitar solos.

Frontman Niilo Sevänen incites the crowd by challenging them to make more noise than last night’s city, Manchester (they do, apparently), and then to “go bananas” when the faster tracks hit like “Only One Who Waits” (they do again). It’s a superb and energetic performance from start to finish by the band, and as mentioned, it makes a unique memory even for long-time fans. A run to catch them on for sure as they hit many more countries throughout Europe. Check the dates out on Insomnium’s website and get to a show if you can.

Insomnium Setlist:

1. 1696
2. Ephemeral
3. White Christ
4. Pale Morning Star
5. Only One Who Waits
6. Change of Heart
7. And Bells They Toll
8. Lilian
9. The Rapids
10. Nocturne
11. Since The Day It All Came Down
12. Song Of The Dusk
13. Primeval Dark
14. While We Sleep
15. Weighed Down With Sorrow