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(Live Review) INSOMNIUM + OMNIUM GATHERUM - Chicago House of BLues, 4/16/24


The Beard & Little Johnny

Greetings friends, fans, and followers, it is time for yet another concert review from your tireless duo The Beard and Little Johnny. Tonight, we made stop #22 and bands #74-76 of our busy 2024 schedule at the Chicago House of Blues to watch Finland Folk/Death acts Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, with support from American act Wilderun.

With tonight being a Tuesday and storms expected, there was a slightly smaller than usual crowd. The place was about 2/3rds full. After a bite to eat at the HOB restaurant of Brisket Nachos & Cajun Mules, Little Johnny assumed his customary spot near the stage front while the Beard headed upstairs to the VIP balcony seating.



First up were east coast Boston act Wilderun. They have been described as symphonic, progressive, and folk metal and have released four full length albums, the last being 2022’s Epigone. 

Rough growling from vocalist Danial Miller was a combined folk/death sound, but Wilderun largely retained more death than folk. Later additions of the more progressive aspects could be both discerned, with lots of atmospheric build up to songs, and heard from the guitar leads. Several numbers started very folk oriented, but quickly displayed an aggressive component. It was like Wilderun was a band trying to emulate the successful musical style and song structure of Opeth.


As their short set went on, I appreciated what they were doing (given their continued inclusion of both atmosphere and progressive tempo and style changes within the numbers.) They did sound like Opeth (from The Grand Declaration era), nevertheless I am still just awarding 75/100 as they never really grabbed me.



Co-headlining tonight were six-piece melodic death act Omnium Gatherum.

This band has released nine full length albums since 2003, the last being 2021’s Origin. Though only founding guitarist Markus Vanhala remains from the original incarnation, the core three members have been touring together for fourteen years. Their music seems to merge the melody and progression of bands like In Flames or Dark Tranquility with straight ahead metal like Iron Maiden or Megadeth.


Omnium Gatherum came out firing on all cylinders featuring great guitar leads back and forth from Vanhala & Nick Cordle. Although I do not love Jukka Pelkonen’s death growl, it did suit the style.


The band presented good energy. There was lots of movement and switching of positions from stage left to stage right so that everyone in the audience could get close ups of everyone playing. Although there was not a lot of pitting, Little Johnny was headbanging and loving the fact that Pelkonens had the horns up salute going on throughout most songs. “That’s not about us little dude.”


Omnium Gatherium gave a strong solid set. Enjoyable, especially the dual guitar leads. The only aspect I did not care for was the snare sound from drummer Atte Pesonen. It seemed a bit tinny. A very small criticism in an otherwise good set. The Beard awards 82/100.



Headliners tonight were the Finland boys of Insomnium. Also having been around for twenty years and having also released nine albums, Insomnium paired their progressive folk metal with dashes of black and doom metal.

Insomnium maintains three of four founding members encompassing the rhythm section, as well as the clean and death vocals portion of the band while guitarist Markus Vanhala (yes, same guy as in Omnium Gatherum) has been adding to Insomnium's guitar work since 2011. Insomnium is still touring behind their witchcraft concept album Anno 1696 (2023) which charted top ten in Finland (1) and Germany (5).


Their entrance music had an almost country feel to it which was oddly different and unexpected. Insomnium had a different vocal growl to their folk/death than Omnium Gatherum. Nillo Sevanen is a more-from-the-bass style singer. No live keyboardist, (although the band had plenty of keyboards in the backing tracks on several songs), and the guitars were more melodic, with less big solos. This presented an almost doomy kind of feel to their progressive style.


Initially the band members stayed more in their places and played while moving much less than Omnium Gatherum had. It was kind of like where Little Johnny is always running around and causing chaos while The Beard quietly goes about his business with a more serious intent. This stationary status did not last as Markus Vanhala cannot truly remain still for long and soon was running from side to side again posturing and doing his metal guitar god thing.


Insomnium seemed the more solidly heavy band, but overall, I preferred the “energy” of Omnium Gatherum. Ultimately neither group really took me over the edge and although each played a fine set, neither inspired a “crack a cold one” type of grade. Neither show was poor, it was that neither show was great either. Both bands had a look, a feel, a style and clearly have been around long enough to each possess solid and loyal followings. But, although he is skilled, energetic, and expressive, one can only watch Markus Vanhala solo so many times over two hours and between a set from Omnium Gatherum and a set from Insomnium my limit had been reached. Insomnium rated 83/100.


So, that wrapped it up for our tenth event, (of this month alone), our twenty-second live concert (of the season), and our seventy-fourth through seventy-sixth bands here in 2024. We are still waiting for a “lightning strikes” type of set and show, but most have been good this year. In a couple of days, the lad and I will be back at it again as the metal bus rolls ever onward.


Remember to stay up with our live reviews every Wednesday & Thursday at your home for Metal news and shows The Mighty Decibel. Follow all the hundreds of live videos on our TikTok site thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny. Stay up with our non-metal shows and event reviews by friending or following Mark McQueen on Facebook.

Until next time, this is The Beard & Little Johnny saying ...

Stay Heavy and Horns Up!!!


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