I remember the very first time I heard Insomnium’s distinctive and striking music. One cold autumn night, my band and I were returning from a concert in Alsace. The temperature in the van couldn’t have been more than fifteen degrees, and we were driving through the forest in the fog. The Spotify playlist was scrolling by, and when “While We Sleep” came on, I remember being pierced by this melody, which lent itself particularly well to our environment at the time. It’s been quite a few years now, and I’ve always enjoyed listening to Insomnium, but I’d never had the chance to enjoy them live. This summer, with the announcement of the 2023 European tour, I decided to remedy that. Many thanks to Oktober Promotion for the accreditation.
On Wednesday November 8, I set off for the Casino in Sint Niklaas in the pouring rain. I arrive relatively early and I am delighted to be able to sip a soft drink in the lounge bar on the first floor. I’d never been in this venue before and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Once upstairs, I discover an atypical place, more decorated like a theater than a concert hall, with arcades and a large chandelier. It’s really beautiful.

Anyway, we’re not here for the architecture, let’s get down to business.


The evening gently starts with the Swedish project KVAEN. Led by singer-guitarist Jacob Björnfot, the quartet offers a black metal set with a pagan touch. There’s very little movement on stage, but it’s musically well executed and easy to get caught up in. A good thirty-minute warm-up.

In Mourning

We change of musical direction and slowly move towards Insomnium with In Mourning and their progressive death metal. We change of musical direction and slowly move towards Insomnium with In Mourning and their progressive death metal. I was smitten from the very first chords with this second band, also from Sweden, whom I was discovering that evening. Here, there’s plenty of interaction between the musicians, plenty of movement and, rare enough to be worth mentioning, the drummer is given excellent visibility. What a pleasure to be able to appreciate the drummer’s playing and facial expressions! He’s completely visible, with his four companions positioned equally on either side of the drums: three singing guitarists who divide up the catchy riffs and the more soaring melodies, and a bass player who brings everything together impeccably. I remain under the spell of this band throughout their forty minutes set.


For the final stage change, the entire stage is cleared for the headliner. Markus Hirvonen‘s monstrous drum kit is unveiled on its platform. Then, a little ahead of the running order, Insomnium make their entrance with “1696”, which is also the first track from the “Anno 1696” album released earlier this year. Next to me, a little boy is wearing the band’s T-shirt and holds up a sign quoting “CAN YOU PLAY WHILE WE SLEEP”. Inwardly, I hope his wish will be granted.

The guitarist Jani Liimatainen, currently on tour with Stratovarius, is replaced by Nick Cordle. Despite this line-up change, the band is still a musical and scenic delight. The tour has barely begun, with only two dates in England and one in Paris, but the complicity is already established. Without wanting to sound cliché, I wasn’t really expecting this from a Nordic melodic death band! Guitarist Markus Vanhala is really buzzing with energy on stage; he seems to be inhabited during his solos and performs up close to the audience on numerous occasions, much to our delight.


I’m struck by the quality of the sound, which is incredibly close to what you’d hear on a studio album. This was one of my fears before the show, wondering whether such a particular atmosphere could be reproduced live. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. Niilo Sevänen‘s growls seem to come straight from the depths of a cave, and the reverb on the snare drum is just HUGE. This is particularly noticeable on the intro to “The Primeval Dark” at the end of the set, where every strike feels like a cannon shot. A few seconds before “While We Sleep”, the bassist / singer looks at the little boy with the sign and beckons him to show it again, which makes us laugh. The young fan receives a standing ovation as he climbs on stage at the end of the song.
For almost an hour and a half, Insomnium gives itself over to the audience without restraint. I’m left in awe, enjoying every moment. They simply amazed us. I’ve been looking forward to this date with great anticipation, and I have to admit that it went beyond my expectations.

The tour continues until December 10, with dates in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and France. Don’t hesitate to stop by if you’re in the area.

Insomnium tour