Insomnium and The Joensuu City Orchestra made metal history today at Ilosaarirock with their once in a lifetime joint gig.
Death metal + city orchestra = greatness! Photo: Markus Korpi-Hallilla
Before Insomnium’s gig begins, I come across many prominent musical figures from Joensuu who have arranged their schedules around this unique gig. Even though the gig hasn’t started yet, the atmosphere is charged and the fans are waiting anxiously. Rumour has it that the whole performance was supposed to be recorded, but for some reason it didn’t work out. This makes it especially important to see the gig live. When the first sounds ring out people migrate towards Main Tent at a brisk pace.
– Insomnium is the most important thing, after that nothing else matters, someone states behind me.
The Joensuu City Orchestra comes to the stage first and starts playing tranquil and peaceful notes while Insomnium joins them. The band kicks the song off fiercely and the following 40 minutes are legendary. I don’t know if the timing of the gig has been thought out beforehand but the rays of the setting sun color the surrounding scenery adding some extra magic to the atmosphere.
The 40-minute long Winter’s Gate has been called ”commercial suicide” by the band itself. This epic is based on a writing competition winning short story by the bass player and singer Niilo Sevänen. The song combines death metal, black metal, doom metal as well as calmer yet beautifully grim moments.
The playing of the whole song live is a tall order. In addition, the combination of the playing of the band and the city orchestra is not an easy task. Yet, Insomnium and the orchestra pull it off. The volume of the orchestra’s playing is set at a level that seems to divide opinions. However, the melodies of the orchestra create a perfect background soundscape for the playing of the band, at least as heard from the spot I’m at. At times beautiful violin melodies come to the fore.
The fists of festival goers are hitting the air as is common in heavy metal gigs, yet the overall atmosphere of the gig is tranquil, even serene. People concentrate to listen as hard as the musicians concentrate to play. The guitarist Markus Vanhala seems to feel and enjoy the music. The other guitarist of the band Ville Friman joked that the one and a half hour time slot that was marked down for their performance was done because they were going to play the song twice. I bet that the audience would have listened it again happily. And cheered as well.
– Do you wanna hear another one?, the band asks after the 40-minute song is over.
Of course they want. When The Gale changes into Mortal Share, the atmosphere changes as well. A mosh pit is created and the band relaxes notably. Their playing becomes even more energetic and slightly imprecise.
The crazed festival goers don’t seem to mind as they rock one hit after another. The temperature rises in the tent even though the evening is getting cooler. A wall of death is created and a young and startled woman is saved from the pit. All is well.
The band surprises the festival audience and plays an oldie but goodie, Medeia. Otherwise the band plays mainly newer and well-known pieces. The air is filled with dust due to the stomping and partying of people in the pit. As While We Sleep plays this dust brings tears to my eyes. Yeah, it must be the dust.
Today Insomnium joined the crowd that has made history in Ilosaarirock. This is a night to remember.
Text: Pasi Huttunen
Photo: Markus Korpi-Hallila Translation: Tuuli Ahonen