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Oceans of Slumber and Insomnium Tip the Richter Scale in Baltimore

Attention geologists: if one might ever wonder the actual sound of plate tectonics, look no further than a show featuring Oceans of Slumber. But don’t forget to add the soaring, sonorous and unrelenting vocals of the menacing and beautiful Cammie Gilbert. The earth will move, but it won’t be pretty.

Switching to a less topographical analogy, Ms. Gilbert approaches the stage the way a predator might look towards easy prey. In other words, when she arrives on the scene, the audience is already resigned to its fate as the band grinds, digs and lurches until she unleashes the kind of vocal power that needs no stage antics. Her weapons are her lungs. And it is refreshing to see an artist show up, deliver the goods, and stroll away. The band, in similar fashion, checked their amps, rack toms and mics in an entirely nonchalant manner before ripping into their set, which included music from their latest release, Banished Heart. Both players and singer know how to do their job making continents move with the utmost ease; all in a venue that might also make a good setting for a 1950s Tiki party.

Baltimore’s Fish Head Cantina is a hotbed of local, national and, indeed, international metal acts. Behind the restaurant is the open air venue that serves as the perfect, intimate place for groups like these. The beer is easy to get to, the air is fresh, and there is a non-claustrophobic vibe. Yet, the headlining act could have blown the corrugated roof off the place.

Insomnium started their show in a decidedly different manner than Oceans. After the perfunctory noodling for tones, they actually left the stage to wait in the wings to make an “entrance.” At first blush, this might seem a bit cheesy in a Vegas kind of way. That is, until the first notes come roaring out. If Oceans is plate tectonics, Insomnium would be the accompanying volcanoes; four of them to be precise.

Accompanying to the scorching line up of Niilo Sevänen, Markus Vanhala and Markus Hirvonen is the whiz-bang guitarist Nick Cordle who is filling in for Ville Friman. Nick is a showman of the highest caliber working in perfect unison with the other members, making it seem as if he was a member from the get-go. While busy with many other projects, he is taking this tour as seriously as anything he did with Arch Enemy. Insomnium is lucky to have him.

All in all, Baltimore has proven, yet again, to be a sure stop for touring metal acts. The crowds are appreciative and the setting right for getting one’s face blown off. No knowledge of geology necessary.

-Jimmy Monack

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