Sometimes, going to a quaint, dingy place for an emotionally heavy show is just what the doctor ordered.
I have been to The Garrison in Toronto a couple of times, and it’s always the same: a memorable and personal experience with good sound (as long you aren’t standing directly beneath the amps, where the vocals often don’t translate as crisply)… but beware of the bathrooms. However, this time around, I was very excited to be seeing Oceans of Slumber and Insomnium hit their stage.
Starting the evening with a bang was Bane, originally from Serbia but relocated and reformed in Montréal, Quebec by guitarist and vocalist Branislav Panić. He, himself, was entertaining enough on his own, with his exaggerated expressions and general stage presence. I also enjoyed watching the rest of the band, though, particularly the drummer whose name apparently cannot be found online, and whose blast beats were accented perfectly.
Oceans of Slumber may not have been the headliners, but they certainly received the reaction of one. I must say, the biggest thing about them is how unique their attitude and approach is to most other current bands. They are not there to amuse or jump into the crowd, they are there to perform music that means a lot to them personally, to the best of their ability. To connect with their fans on a deeper level than throwing a guitar pick into the beer-crusted audience. And it is truly something to witness.
Opening their set with the first few tracks of this year’s release, ‘The Banished Heart’, “The Decay Of Disregard” was one of the highlights of the show for me, blowing the room away and going flawlessly into “Fleeting Vigilance”. The only song on the setlist that was not from the newest album was arguably the song that put them on the map on a bigger scale, “Winter”, which was absolutely astonishing. As the set seemed rather short, it would have been nice to hear more older material, but as the band themselves mentioned before the show, every show on the tour is physically and emotionally taxing for singer Cammie Gilbert. She performed beautifully in every way, but during the final song, “No Color, No Light”, her tears burst free, and the moment I saw her chin tremble, so did mine. From guitarist Sean Gary’s intense harsh vocals, to Dobber Beverly’s monster blast, every member of Oceans of Slumber puts one hundred percent into the music and it really shows.
As for Insomnium, well, it’s safe to say that Finland was well represented. Playing the amazing 40 minutes of ‘Winter’s Gate’, they still managed to play almost another set’s worth of older hits after that, including “The Primeval Dark” and “While We Sleep” from 2014’s ‘Shadows of the Dying Sun’. It was a long set that still left the crowd wanting more, the entire band was full of energy and connected well with everyone in the room. Aside from frontman and bassist Niilo Sevänen’s constant interaction with the front rows, both guitarists explored the stage and mouthed the lyrics back at every screaming fan.
Overall, The Garrison was the perfect place for a sold out show such as this one. Three intensely amazing bands, each with something different to bring to the stage. Through tears of joy and sorrow, it was a fantastic and very memorable night of metal.