The venue was spacious, and the stage set up was already getting me excited, anticipating the night ahead. First band to grace the O2 crowd were Finnish melodeath metallers Omnium Gatherum. This band and their music have the ability to mesmerize you with their otherworldly sounds interwoven with bludgeoning riffs. Jukka greeted the crowd, before the charming intro of ‘Luoto’ began and everything took off from there. The energy was contagious as the whole audience cheered the Finns, headbanging and air-guitaring to their heart’s content. With tracks like ‘New Dynamic’, ‘The Unknowing’ and ‘New World Shadows’, they played a brilliant set of songs from their most recent albums ‘Beyond’ and ‘New World Shadows’, albums that consolidate the band’s reputation as among the best melodeath metal bands. Jukka had a tremendous amount of energy as did guitarists Markus Vanhala and ‘Jope’ guided by the pummelling of drummer Jarmo on his kit. It certainly was a great way to start the night, and Omnium Gatherum killed it!
Following Omnium’s amazing set, was a band I had been waiting half my life to see. Insomnium are more than just a band to me – they’re a group of absolutely stunning, inspiring people and it was such an honour to watch them live. As I saw them come on stage, I could feel the biggest grin take over my face, anticipating what was going to be a show I’d never forget. As luck would have it, Ville Friman, the band’s guitarist was sitting out the European tour due to other committments but considering that he lives in London, something I completely forgot, it’s natural that he’d want to come and jam with his boys. Hearing the familiar and heavy opening of ‘The Killjoy’, a track from the first ever Insomnium album ( Above The Weeping World) I heard, my happiness couldn’t be contained any longer as the wind-milling kicked in and lasted throughout Insomnium’s absolutely perfect set. Elegant brutality at its finest, the haunting melodies of each track set in time with the beautiful, thought-provoking lyrics and Niilo’s positively intense growls. The band released their latest album ‘Shadows Of The Dying Sun’ early last year another masterpiece if I may, and tracks like ‘Black Heart Rebellion’, ‘While We Sleep’ and the scintillating ‘Ephemeral’ resonated through the air of the venue, fans like me singing along and losing all sensation in our necks. There were also some old favourites like ‘Daughter Of The Moon’, ‘Every Hour Wounds’ and ‘Where The Last Wave Broke’ moments of nostalgia rushing through my head. Niilo Sevanen is one of the most charismatic yet brutal vocalists I’ve seen/ heard and the chemistry that there is among these four musicians is unmatched. Mad props to Markus who is quite literally an unstoppable force doing full tours with both his bands on the same line-up, there was no sign of tiredness but only big, lovely smiles for my camera along with a few poses. Markus Hirvonen effortlessly played his kit, it’s such a delight to watch him drumming as the band performed ‘Weighed Down With Sorrow’ bringing their flawless, awe-inspiring set to an end I didn’t want. To be honest, I could write pages and pages about this one band and my first time seeing them live but I do have a word limit to stick to so I’ll just say this: If you ever get a chance to see them live? Please do. It’ll be the best decision you ever made.
Finally it was time for the headliners and Finland’s very own folk metallers. Ensiferum’s music has always appealed to me with the strong traditional folk influence, powerful riffs and lyrics. But added to that, these guys are also fun yet brutal at the same time. Following a changeover that seemed like an eternity, one by one, Sami Hinkka and co were on stage at the speed of light and erupted into the ‘March of War’ a track from their insane new album ‘One Man Army’. There were war-painted faces everywhere, screaming along, swords and shields, Viking hats all worn with pride as the band continued on with more new tracks like ‘Axe Of Judgement’, ‘Heathen Horde’, Warrior Without A War’ and ‘Two Of Spades’. It was exciting to see Netta (ex-Turisas) on stage along with the band playing her accordion making these cute animated expressions while she was at it. We were also witness to a fun, Finnish ‘hummpa’ that psyched out the audience even more! Pete Lindroos who takes on simultaneous vocal and guitar duties, had the crowd under his complete control, his comrades Sami, clad proudly in his traditional kilt and Markus fooling around and exchanging cheeky banter with London. A kinky black bra was thrown on stage in honour of Sami who happily hung it on his mic stand and continued shredding his guitar with an even bigger smile on his face. Netta took over Petri’s mic and again bringing out the cheeky side of the band asked the crowd if they wanted to hear more. Course we did! And more we got! Introducing the ‘new’ members of the band , we saw Janne on guitar, Sami on accordion, Markus on drums, Petri on bass and the diva herself on vocals doing a solid rendition of Priest’s ‘Break The Law’ in sunnies and all. Needless to say that whole set had me off my feet and I don’t even know how to dance!
The night as always came to an end with the perfect encore of ‘From Afar’ and ‘Iron’ ending Ensiferum’s set and one of the most brilliant shows I’ve ever been to. Melodeath metal is at the top for me, and this was a dream come true to see all three bands play the same gig. Insomnium were without a doubt my highlight, definitely of the show and of possibly my whole year but each one played an absolutely spectacular set, reminding people why they’re among some of the best melodeath bands in the world. London was beautiful that night.