Insomnium + Conjurer @ Islington Assembly Hall, London
19th January 2020
Review by Demitri Levantis
Photos by Dovaldė Gaidelionytė
Sunday for many is a day of rest and relaxation, but for others, it is a day of relaxation through the appreciation of some of the finest music ever, namely melodic death metal.
Finnish bards Insomnium dropped by the Islington Assembly Hall in north London this evening to play a fine rendition of their 2019 album, ‘Heart Like a Grave.’
The Islington Assembly Hall is a venue that has seen countless bands and artists grace the stage, such as Moonspell and Rotting Christ a few months back when I last visited the venue, and today it was the turn of the Finns and their melodic journeys into the darker side of Scandinavian life.
As the doors opened, the people poured in and a large crowd had assembled by the time the opening act took to the stage. Conjurer, all the way from Rugby, Warwickshire and the band who are, as I see it, leading the way in the UK’s sludge and doom metal scenes.
At first, I was a little sceptical of putting a band like this on the bill with a melodic death act but once the band launched into their setlist, I could see why they’d been picked for the tour.
Conjurer combines a mix of post-metal with the hefty anguish and angsty growls of sludge and doom music, and their first few songs blasted into the crowd with as much power and exhilaration such a band can deliver.
Whilst sludge and doom metal are two genres typically associated with anxiety and depression or engaging in transgressive activities, Conjurer had the ability to come across as quite jovial in their delivery. All strings and percussion were on point and I could tell the boys were certainly having fun at their job – as were we the crowd in appreciating their work.
As the setlist wore on, it became no wonder that this band was going places because they managed to go from slow and horrible to fast and energetic in the blink of an eye on several occasions. I was particularly impressed at this, for I remember watching this band in their infancy at Bloodstock festival some years back. So it was brilliant to see Conjurer wow the crowd in a magical fashion that left them with all the applause they deserved as they left the stage.
It is cliché to say you went to a gig that you didn’t want to end, but things do tend to become cliché because they carry some truth, and the truth of that statement can be officially told for Insomnium, the Finnish melodic death metallers who arrived next.
This was one roller coaster thrill ride from the word go. From the moment Niilo Servanen greeted the audience, I knew this was going to be one of the most uplifting shows I’ve ever attended.
Insomnium has the ability to take some of the darkest and most anxiety-inducing themes like sorrow, madness, suicide and general sadness, all embraced by their native people, and make some of the catchiest melodic metal out of it.
There was not one single slip up from these Finns as they blazed through catchy number after catchy number that stuck in your head like an irritating car alarm. Everything was memorable. The crowd was now packing out the entire venue – almost full to the brim and the happiness and mirth that emanated from everyone around me could be felt in the air as the bass and strings cut right to the bone.
Death metal is normally deemed the most extreme genre of metal, and in this case, it caused an extreme paradox by making the entire show feel like some sort of euphoria where performer and audience alike are possessed by something so uplifting and ecstatic through music about the darker sides of life.
Insomnium have longevity, and that is an understatement. Both musically and thematic, they stand out as a band who know what they are doing. Being able to deliver such a gig like this told me they were not going to vanish from popularity in the UK any time soon and they were enjoying themselves as much as my friends and I.
It was more than sad when the gig was over, but with an encore, everyone left the Assembly Hall with all the heartfelt warmth that Finnish death metal can deliver; performed by veterans who made one of the most controversial metal genres sound happy and soothing in its own manner.
Well done for such an amazing show Insomnium – one will not forget your performance in a hurry and I look forward to seeing you again.
2. Through the Shadows
3. Into the Woods
5. Pale Morning Star
6. Change of Heart
7. And Bells They Toll
8. Mute is My Sorrow
10. In the Groves of Death
11. The Primeval Dark
12. While We Sleep
13. Heart Like a Grave