Insomnium and Fleshgod Apocalypse are two bands that have taken very different approaches to innovating within their genres. While the Finns slowed down and tempered melodic death metal with Katatonia’s melancholy, Fleshgod took everything they touched far beyond eleven. Despite their opposing ideologies, they made for a fiery combination when they played to a sold out Camden Underworld on a brisk November night.
Stam1na – [3.5/5]
Clearly a band with a reputation among their compatriots, Stam1na managed to bring a strong Finnish contingent to the front of The Underworld. In fact, they were so strong that it was hard to hear vocalist Antti Hyyrynen over their deafening echo. This reception was well earned, as the band’s version of synthy Northern melodeath with Antti’s voice providing a rock edge proved to be an effective weapon. Even though I could only understand the martial closing of ‘Panzerfaust’, Stam1na repaid their support with great enthusiasm and were a fine start to proceedings.
Stam1na’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Stam1naOfficial
Fleshgod Apocalypse – [5/5]
Fleshgod Apocalypse were transcendent. Current album Labyrinth was the sound of a band redlining every single frequency range, convinced that compromise was for the unconfident. It didn’t do much for me but things proved very different live. Their combination of Nightwish and Necrophagist still had incredible weight, yet I found it easier to isolate and understand its many, many layers. Vocalist Tommaso Riccardi didn’t allow this intensity to abate between songs, introducing each one as if he was speaking from a pulpit rather than a stage.
Veronica Bordacchini brought this from a great set to one of the best I’ve seen. Effortlessly ascending beyond the vocal heights that bassist Paolo Rossi grasps for, she provided a striking crown to Fleshgod’s ultra dense sound. Though Veronica was in the background for much of the set, ‘Epilogue’ gave her the opportunity to duet and circle in the spotlight with Tommaso like a tech death Tarja.
Crushing the rest of the band between Veronica’s honeyed soprano and Francesco Paoli’s outrageous kick drums led to a slight lack of clarity for Fleshgod’s guitarists. They put in skillful performances, but the competition they faced from a saturation of other melodic elements meant that their texture often mattered more than what was played. Even so, this was a truly vulgar display of overwhelming power.
Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fleshgodapocalypse
Insomnium – [4/5]
‘The Primeval Dark’ and ‘While We Sleep’ are the refined essence of Insomnium – combining post-rock soundscapes and uplifting lyrics with melodeath’s drive in a beautiful two part opening to latest album Shadows Of The Dying Sun. Guitar problems sadly kept them from starting this evening with the same kind of grandeur but Insomnium were implacable once they had found their feet.
Energetic on stage, Markus Vanhala and Ville Friman were so intent on bringing their guitars to every face that they could see that they constantly danced past each other to swap sides of the stage. Even though bassist Niilo Sevänen was tied to one spot by his vocal duties he performed with an inertia that became visibly greater with every song. The crowd were just as encouraged as they witnessed a fan pleasing, career spanning setlist. They rarely venture far from their signature style, but the imagination that Insomnium have iterated with is undeniable.
Insomnium’s greatest success is that they’ve brought shoegaze’s vulnerability and self-reflection to a pretty aggressive genre. Where Fleshgod Apocalypse preached of classical gore and humanity’s corruption, Insomnium suggests that all strife is treatable. From where I was standing, the audience seemed to absorb this message in relative tranquillity, only erupting into noise and movement in thanks for each song. This suited me well – I wish more pits were dedicated to introspection rather than hardcore dancing.
So, a strong and heartfelt performance from the headliners that shows they have the live muscle to back up their recent career best release. Despite this, I spent the train home straining to think of the precious few sets I’ve seen that were equal to Fleshgod Apocalypse’s contribution. Their graveyard personas might be a little po-faced (particularly in contrast with their pasta infomercial) but they are almost scarily effective.
Insomnium’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/insomniumofficial