Tag Archives: Barfly

Camden Rocks Fest mini-review

A sunny day in Camden Town, a few friends, more than a few beers and some rocking good bands.  I had a blast at Camden Rocks Festival this year, although I only got to see seven bands, due to so many clashes and a late arrival back from the Sheffield Heaven’s Basement gig the night before.  Anyway, here’s my mini review of the day.  Enjoy!

The first band of the day was Damn Dice (8.5/10), a native hard rock outfit who were all dressed in black leather, with more hair and eyeliner than I’ve seen on stage for a long while.  They kicked off with some riff laden, scissor-kicking mayhem, as they hammered their way through a convincing set, including the soundtrack to new video ‘Driven’.  With harmonics and headbanging aplenty, I thought their set was pretty good; this is a band on the up, with their debut album “The Great Unknown” hitting the airwaves on 24th August.  Watch out for them in future (and keep your eyes peeled for my interview with the band and my review of the album!).

Damn Dice on stage at the Camden Barfly

A swift trot over to the Stables and The Cuban meant it was time for the eagerly anticipated set from London hard rockers New Device (7.5/10).  Dressed in vests, with tattoos and biceps on display in equal measure, New Device gave a credible set, however for some reason they didn’t fully hold my attention and it all sounded a bit … generic.  They did perform to a packed room, however and I’d like to see them again to make up my mind.  I’m going to acquire a copy of their album “Takin’ Over London” next week …

New Device at The Cuban

I might get criticised for reviewing the next band, as it’s well known that they’re favourites of mine and perhaps I should have seen someone else instead, but Max Raptor (9/10) always give 110%, balls out, awesome energy to every single show and I couldn’t resist seeing them, as it’s been a while.  I wished I was anywhere else but at the Barfly though;it was absolutely heaving and I could barely breathe, let alone see the stage.  Wil and the guys looked lean, full of beans and more than up for a good show, kicking off with ‘The Great and The Good’.  There were clearly a lot of Max Raptor fans in the room and the whole place went nuclear with the crowd singing along to all the lyrics.  I was stuck at the back so I couldn’t get any decent pics, but with new song ‘Population’ thrown into the middle of the set, before the mayhem of ‘Obey The Whips’ and the pure genius of ‘England Breathes’, it was clear that the band were loving being on the stage as much as we were enjoying watching them.  A mad set culminated in ‘The King Is Dead’, with a massive circle pit going on down the front.  Never a disappointment, always mad, you’re seriously missing out if you haven’t seen this lot yet. Get on it!

A serious cool down was needed after that, so I headed to the Monarch to see The Wild Lies (9/10), a band that are full of old-fashioned strut and raunch, with a bang-on-trend sound.  Clearly a lot of other people thought the same as the place was packed.  A slick sound, coupled with 100% rock star appearance ensured that this lot went down a storm and I defy anyone not to want to rock out whilst listening to them.  With a Download Festival appearance lined up next week and a new video out for ‘Asteroid Central’, The Wild Lies should be on anyone’s playlist; certainly they didn’t disappoint any of the assembled throng in the Monarch.  Well worth a watch!

The Wild Lies at The Monarch

I couldn’t see Heaven’s Basement (9/10) and not review them;anyone who has followed my blog or Facebook page will know how fond I am of the Basement Boys.  Turning their usual set on its head and kicking off with ‘Executioner’s Day’, Aaron, Sid, Rob and Chris flew through a disappointingly short set, with crowd pleasers such as ‘I Am Electric’, ‘Can’t Let Go’ and ‘Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch’.  Sid did an admirable job of vocals with ‘Paranoia’ and Aaron couldn’t resist his trademark crowd surfing.  With some serious pit action going on I was surprised they chose to slow things down with ‘Price We Pay’, never a favourite of mine, but they eased the crowd back to fever pitch and finished a cracking performance with a two song encore of ‘Welcome Home’ and absolute favourite ‘Fire Fire’, which had the whole place bouncing.  This was my 15th HB gig and whilst I still adore them and their music, I think they need to crack on with album two and get some new material out in front of the fans.  Having said that, I headed to the bar absolutely dripping with sweat, euphoric at having been part of yet another awesome, atmospheric gig.  Roll on HBII and another tour …

Heaven’s Basement at The Underworld

I would love to tell you how amazing Skindred were, but by the time I came back from the loo, the crowd was packed tighter than a shopping centre on Boxing Day – I couldn’t get anywhere near them and the venue was getting ridiculously hot, so having caught a smashing rendition of ‘Kill The Power’, it was with regret that I headed back up to street level.  Judging from the reaction of those people closest to me before I bailed, Skindred’s set was going to be another good one.

With a banging head and aching feet, I headed back to the Monarch for the last band of the day.  Jett Black have been on my bucket list for a long time and whilst I couldn’t tell you what tracks they played, I know that they had an appreciative audience and sounded pretty awesome from where I was sitting (yes, sitting. I’m nearly forty, give me a break …).  Again, another band that I would like to see play a full set, sober and bright eyed and bushy tailed, to give them full justice.

Bands I didn’t get to see, but heard people raving about were – Glamour Of The Kill, Fallen To Flux, Bullet For My Valentine, Buck and Evans, Buffalo Summer and Voodoo Vegas.

All in all, it was an immense day.  I got to meet up with some friends, see some awesome musicians, spend time with The Boyfriend, sit in the sun and have a few beers.  That’s all you can ask for on a beautiful day in Camden Town.  Much kudos to the organisers and roll on Camden Rocks 2016.

All photos courtesy of Chris White

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Album review – Dendera “Pillars of Creation”

Review – Dendera “Pillars of Creation”

It’s been an eventful couple of months for Hampshire-based hard rock band, Dendera.  They stepped up a stage from last year for a dark performance at Southampton Uni’s esteemed Takedown Festival in March; then they found themselves a man down as Tony Fuller, axe-man extraordinaire, left the band this month.

However, one good thing to come out of 2015 despite Tony’s departure, was a new album, “Pillars of Creation”, which the outgoing guitarist featured on before he left.  Anyone who may have written Dendera off as an Iron Maiden sound-a-like band can firmly shove their opinion where the sun doesn’t shine, for this new album is 100% Dendera – unique and heavy as hell.  It’s clichéd to say a band have matured, but with this album, Dendera really have stepped things up a gear or two.  Always cohesive as musicians, this is a tight, polished diamond of a record that will hopefully silence the critics once and for all.

Dendera Pillars of Creation artwork

“Pillars of Creation” is only eight tracks long, however each song is loaded with killer riffs, sweet vocals and 100% pure musicianship.  It’s clear that Dendera aren’t messing about with this record; they mean business and this could be the one that gets them the breakthrough that they deserve.

First track ‘Claim Our Throne’ could be a tongue in cheek homage to the place they’re hoping to take on the rock scene with this album.  Starting off with an intro that could have come straight from a Machine Head album, ‘Claim Our Throne’ is a bang up to date metal track that also screams overtones of more traditional metal … it’s a bruising, belter of a track.  I particularly like the backing vocals, which bring a new dimension to Ashley’s voice.

Second offering, ‘Bloodlust’ is brutal; a romp through some awesome guitar work with some dark vocals and superb drumming.  It’s more recognisable as Dendera, in my humble opinion, but that makes it even more exciting to listen to because it shows how much they’ve evolved since ‘The Killing Floor’.

Ever since I heard third track ‘In High Tide’ live back at the Joiners last year, I loved it.  It chugs along with some classic Ashley vocals thrown in, but the riff reminds me vaguely of 80’s Megadeth.  Anyway, it’s one of my favourite tracks and well worth repeated listening.

‘Disillusioned’ starts with a charming vocal, “Broken and bound by the pain that consumes you, eaten alive by the lies and deceit …”; you just know that this is going to be an epic track and it doesn’t disappoint.  Almost melodic in places (oh, how we hate that word, right?), this is a classic track with some awesome musical work.

Track number five, ‘The Daylight Ending’ is an aural delight that will make your ears bleed if it’s turned up high enough and there is more of the same with ‘The Chosen One’, which will be a firm hit with the stoner rockers out there who prefer a slightly slower pace.  Still epic, nonetheless.

Penultimate track ‘Unholy’ is the undoubted winner for cranking it all the way up to 11 … it whips along at a mad pace and with lyrics such as “All shall perish for my wrath” and “Unholy, my anger, I’ll take a chance upon the other side”, it’s a vitriolic, spitting creation that will go down well at your next party, when you want to upset the neighbours …

Final track, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ ends the album exactly as it started.  Explosive, with crashing, manic riffs, thoughtful lyrics and some serious changes of pace, it’s an epic track that quite rightly finishes off one of the best local band records I’ve heard for some time.

With an album launch party planned for Thursday 18th June at the Garage in London, it’s clear that Dendera are fully prepared to come back stronger following Tony’s departure, and you better watch out if you’re not expecting them to melt your face off.  If you miss this one, you truly will miss out.  See you at the front!

Tickets can be bought here –  http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/checkout/event.php?eventId=AJI1806X&camefrom=TW_TICKETMASTER_TMLISTINGS

Pre-order Pillars of Creation –

http://denderauk.bigcartel.com/product/pillars-of-creation-cd

Track Listing: –

Claim Our Throne

Bloodlust

In High Tide

Disillusioned

The Daylight Ending

The Chosen One

Unholy

Edge of Tomorrow

www.dendera.co.uk

www.facebook.com/DenderaUK

Interview with Feral Sun @ Camden Barfly, 03.05.14

Interview with FERAL SUN, 03.05.14 @ The Barfly, Camden

You’ve just released your album ‘Evacuate’, how’s the feedback been so far?

Jay: We’ve been pretty stoked to get the positive feedback that we’ve been receiving. It’s our debut album and the people that have been picking up the album and buying it – the fans, which we massively appreciate and then industry people such as radio stations and all the other’s who’ve picked it up so far, the reviews have been really positive. We’ve also been stoked to get some of the real positive responses, as in the “fresh sound” comments, some of the bands people are saying we sound like and being put in a similar category as some of those bigger bands. To hear those kind of responses is our dream. Now it’s about trying to get it out there more, with more people hearing it.

Well, you’ve certainly been getting lots of radio play, you’ve got Emma Scott (formerly of Kerrang!) plugging you and you’re only about halfway through your tour?

Mick: Just before the halfway mark with the current dates and hopefully soon some more dates may be added. It’s going well.

Evacuate

Are you seeing people coming back to different shows or is it different faces every night?

Marco: Random people who happen to be there are looking forward to the next show and are then following us around.

Jay: It’s quite awesome when you go to a gig somewhere completely different and whether it’s a small venue or somewhere a little bit bigger, to see some of the same people that you saw in another town, that’s an awesome feeling. It’s amazing; you can’t get a better feeling than that.

Those people will grow with you as you get bigger as well … I saw something on Facebook about a South African tour – is that something that may definitely happen?

Jay: The band is originally from there, Mick is from Pretoria …

Mick: I’ve been talking to a big booking agent in South Africa and they’re really interested in getting us over there, but we need to make it worth their while, so if we fill up venues or bring 20,000 or 30,000 to a festival. They’re looking for sponsors and we’re promoting and getting our name out there. It’s been a fantastic start, with SA radio exclusives and interviews; in the first two weeks, we got onto to the top 10 most wanted charts in my home town and we stayed there for 5 weeks, only being beaten by Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’, for two weeks in a row. It’s just been great, from there on we’ve done ‘Breathe’ and ‘The Long Road’ and had a great response, so we’re just waiting for them to get the sponsors ready. We can look at doing it ourselves but we’ve got so many places now – people from America are asking us when we’re going to be over there, and Belgium, The Netherlands – we have radio stations over there playing us every day now. We’re thinking we’ll start with the European market and then take it from there. If the SA tour comes about, we’ll gladly be going.

You’re really starting to spread far and wide!

Mick: It seems that way, slowly but surely. Yesterday or the day before (on Facebook), I just happened to find these Italians talking about us, saying that we sounded a bit like Stonesour; I’m not friends with them or anything so that was great so we’re starting to see things happening, on twitter it’s also going well.

Jay: We’re not doing anything major, nothing on a grand, Wembley stadium scale in the slightest, but it’s just great to feel that people are listening to the music and coming to the shows.

Mick: One step at a time …

So, Wembley, is that the ultimate goal?!

Jay: My goal is just to keep on rocking for as long as I can, to be honest.

Mick: How far can we take it? If we don’t reach Wembley, it’s not the end of the world.

Marco: The amazing thing is that, of course we’re working hard, but doing all of this, we’re still having fun, we’re still enjoying it and people are having a good time with us.

Alex: That’s the main factor which drives you to do the gigs, once I’ve stopped having fun, maybe I’ll quit music!

Mick: I think the crowd feeds off of our having fun, onstage or off stage. Now that we’ve set up we can relax, have a few beers and it starts now. I’m sure most bands say it, but we are one of the easiest working bands, we haven’t had troubles with anyone along the way.

Jay: We like to try and be one of the easiest working bands, just the kind of band that just wants to play, you know? We’re just trying to have a good time.

Alex: It’s a really good chemistry.

Interview shot - Heath Bateman

(Picture courtesy of Heath Bateman)

You have people coming to different shows again and again from different places, are these people that have been there since day one?

Marco: There are a few that have been there from the beginning, from the first few gigs. Actually the good thing is that they’re trying to spread the word and bringing along more friends and people.

Mick: We haven’t got to actually doing it yet, but hopefully by the end of this year or next, as there has been a lot of demand for it, we can hire a coach and bring a lot of our friends and fans to Birmingham.

Marco: The first time we played Birmingham there were people coming up from London, travelled by train to see us. They were singing along and wearing tee shirts.

Jay: Yeah, and they came and stayed with us! They crashed where we crashed. They came all the way to Birmingham so we said come and party with us and they crashed with us. They’ve already spent money on public transport …

Do you find that people bring things to shows for you?

Mick: Our last gig was my birthday and there was a lovely birthday card from three of the DJ’s from Rock and Roll Circus and a birthday cake as well. I did have a bit of a worry as I saw James Hetfield get completely destroyed at Sonisphere with cake on his birthday and I thought, where’s this cake going?!

Marco: To be honest, we thought about it … but it had candles on it, we didn’t want hot candles burning his face!

Taking it right back, how did you settle on the band name?

Mick: Originally, it came from Wild Child and it just didn’t go with the way the sound was going. South Africa was very grungy at that time, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam etc. When we changed members in SA, I looked into a Webster’s dictionary and saw ‘feral’ as another name for wild, but I didn’t think Feral Child would go down very well. Then I thought bring SA into it, and everyone kept saying the music had energy so it became Feral Sun. Around that time MySpace was kicking off and the name was one of one – it wasn’t on there already and when I got here, we got the domain name, feralsun.com. The only thing we couldn’t get was Facebook, we lost the name when we changed to a page, so we had to go with Feral Sun Rock. Anyway, it’s an absolute gold mine of a name and people seem to like it from what I’ve heard.

When you’re writing, what sort of influences do you draw on?

Jay: All four of us bring something different. I’m a metal head, but I’m also a hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass and dub-step head. Classical music, jazz and funk flavours … I started playing drums because I got given a rock tape, so I was always a rock drummer, rather than going the urban route. My influences are rock-metal, metal to get me the flavours that I need to push to for the next album, drumming-wise, but I still have this automatic urban groove flavour.

Alex: For me, I cannot say if I’m driven by jazz influences, rock or nu-metal, for me the main thing is to look at the song as a listener. It doesn’t matter if I play it or not, but I just want to stand outside and listen to it and see if it needs to be changed and it doesn’t matter what kind of influences, the main thing is that the product is a song to be delivered to the people and they accept it.

Marco: We’re all from different countries but we’re all into rock. Coming from different backgrounds we pull all of that into the music itself, a bit of everywhere. As a guitar player I always aim for the big guitar heroes, but I listen to classical music, more rock. But I think it’s the way we bring that to the band that makes the difference, not what we listen to.

Mick: Everybody is influenced by somebody. Definitely all the 90’s grunge bands, everyone from the Pixies all the way through to Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Nowadays I’m into Karnivool, Trivium, Killswitch Engage – at the end of the day, you take your influences, then you try and write something that is Feral Sun. Nobody can pinpoint us to one band, which is great. If one person says a song sounds like Stonesour and someone else says it sounds like Soundgarden, to me that’s like, wow, you are comparing us to massive bands. Everyone needs to compare a new band the first time they listen to them, because it’s something familiar to them.

Alex: Sometimes when we write new songs, somebody will get the idea which sounds great but then it turns out that somebody else already used a similar melody or rhythm and we don’t want to copy anyone, we just want to be an original band.

Marco: It’s very complicated nowadays, there are so many bands!

Mick: It’s finding the recipe between something that we’re happy to play on stage and also something that the crowd is going to enjoy.

If you could play with any band, alive or dead, current or past, who would it be and why?

Jay: I think I would love to support someone like Karnivool because they’re just ridiculous. We’re a different sound to them, but I just think being able to come off stage and watch those guys rip it to pieces after us …

Marco: My biggest dream would be to share the stage with Dream Theater. I don’t think that would happen as we’re so different, but they’re my favourite band.

Alex: I’m going to be unoriginal but I would love to play with Metallica, just to say to James Hetfield, thank you for my childhood, because that’s what made my childhood, so I’d like to shake his hand and say thank you very much.

Mick: This is a tough one. Can I say two, as it would be very close between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The two biggest influences vocally in my music career and they’re still going, still writing great tunes. I think we could definitely support both of them quite easily!

You’re currently un-signed, do you feel pressure to get a ‘record deal’ as people would understand the term?

Jay: I don’t think we feel pressure, I think we’re stoked to have some real hard working band members; Mick carries a lot of the administration side of the band on his shoulders. Everybody in the band is doing their bit, but Mick has been the driving force, specifically during this album, so the last 18 months have been great with a bit of management support and Emma Scott getting involved with us, and the radio stations, getting interviews – none of that would have happened if Mick hadn’t gone out there and searched and contacted these people and got them to check us out. Everyone has done their part and we’ve been productive. We’ve tried to throw a few things at labels, but they need to see that we’re serious about it, so we’ve been trying to get to a level where we’ve got proper management and booking and support, which we have now. We’ve tried to do it in an organic, correct way because in this industry now, unless you’re fortunate enough to be supported by a big [record company] nobody’s got any money anyway. We can only show that we still want it and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the right people are in the right place and that we’re playing the right way.

That leads on to my next question! Given that rock and metal is allegedly outselling other genres in this country, a lot of people are saying that the industry is dead on its arse and that bands will never make it anyway. What’s your opinion?

Marco: There are still good bands out there.

Jay: It’s not dead on its arse, it’s just going in a different direction.

Mick: I think it’s changed. It is a dog eat dog eat world and if bands are falling off along the way, the ones that really want it and are striving for it will get that spot. It’s not just about who you know now and bands have to show they can do it for themselves. We’re lucky that we own everything that we’ve done, but there will come a point where, unless we have a sponsor, to actually get it to the level that we want to go to, that’s where labels with money come aboard. We know the dangers of going that way but that’s what it is.

Jay: If it does come to us it would be awesome, but it has to be the right opportunity.

A lot of people don’t buy CD’s anymore, they prefer to download music …

Jay: People do still buy CD’s. There are still big chains, HMV are still there and there are still independent shops.

Mick: Vinyl is coming back, I went to HMV a week ago and there was Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine on vinyl. It’s on its way back but in a smaller, on demand market. We would definitely look into that, maybe start with 10 and see if people go for it.

What about the pledge route? Might you consider that?

Mick: It probably is in the pipeline. We funded this album, which wasn’t cheap, but we were happy to do it because we love doing it and it was the only way we could do it. Some days have been 12-16 hours solid work, day in day out. If it wasn’t for these guys, I wouldn’t be sitting here now and we’ve done all that hard work and I can breathe again now. If we can get on to something like this then hopefully a lot of that will be taken off my shoulders and I can get back to doing what I love doing most – writing and playing music.

What tunes are you listening to when you’re travelling?

Jay: We make mix CD’s, but we’re always adding stuff.

Mick: I think we should add ‘Heart of A Coward’, another London-based band.

Jay: Sometimes we’ll put on some dance music just to get out of the metal and have something different on a long journey.

You’re playing Nuke-Fest in Hull on 12th July? Any other festivals or summer appearances?

Jay: If all goes to plan during the next few days, hopefully we may have some more bookings soon.

Mick: With festivals, bands need to be on labels, so that’s a massive wall for us to climb and most of the bands will have had to have a release out, so we just missed it. We’re tighter as a band now and there’s a whole lot of things that have been in the background that yes, we’re ready now, but we’ll be a whole lot more ready next year.

We’ll be looking out for you at all the big festivals next year then! Anything else to say?

Jay: Thank you very much for reading this – if you’ve heard the album and you like it, we massively appreciate it!

Feral Sun’s debut album, ‘Evacuate’ is out now and available to buy from their website or from iTunes.  Check out their Facebook page for more gig dates – you seriously need to catch these guys live!

www.feralsun.com

www.facebook.com/feralsunrock