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Gig Review: The Haunted +Insomnium, Melbourne

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The Haunted + Insomnium + Orpheus Omega
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
15 May 2015
Review by Joshua Bulleid
Photo by Wylie Burchall

Splitting the difference between tonight’s headliners are home-grown heroes Orpheus Omega, whose deafening rumble greeted us as we descend into the former Hi-Fi bar. Their usual high-energy set was rendered rather less impressive than usual though, due to the ear-splitting volume and constant feedback problems.

Contrastingly, Insomnium sounded as crisp and clear as the springs of their native Finland, and rather a lot heavier and more exciting in the live setting than on record. Their set consisted largely of cuts from last year’s lauded Shadows Of The Rising Sun and 2009’s Across The Dark, with occasional dips into the band’s further catalogue. The opening salvo of The Primeval Dark and While We Sleep set the scene perfectly for a rolling invasion of Nordic hoards and it was easy to get swept away in the hypnotic atmosphere.

After a couple of songs however, just how formulaic and Samish Insomnium’s songs are started to come through. The constant injection of slower sections often jolted the momentum and it was continuously disappointing to have songs peter out as soon as Markus Vanhala’s magnificent soloing really kicked them into gear. It was the older, faster cuts that provided the set’s best and most comprehensive moments, with the exception of The Promethean Song, whose resounding emotion and epic closing solo were somewhat ruined by an immediate encore. Still, it’s an impressive set that surely satisfied Insomnium’s hardcore fans and enticed those less familiar.

With Sweden’s The Haunted taking the stage to a crowd roughly a third of the size of the packed out one there to watch the Finns, it’s safe to say Insomnium stole the night. While those few at the front seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly, The Haunted’s set was remarkably one-note. “I just fucking scream, that’s what I do” says newly restored and overly chipper frontman Marco Aro at one point, and that’s about the guts of it.

Aro has one setting—eleven—that he’s set to at all times, and his tone is unvaried even by death metal standards. This maybe wouldn’t have been so much if a problem if the set didn’t pull so much from the Dolving-era, particularly (and surprisingly) the more complex and layered The Dead Eye record, with only one track (D.O.A.) taken from the Aro-fronted One Kill Wonder. Listening to Aro try and pull of the clean section of his own Hollow Ground was particularly grating, and it was the more straightforward cuts, from last year’s Exit Wounds that suffered least.

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