LIVE AT THE UNDERWORLD, CAMDEN
THURSDAY 14th JULY 2016
WITH SUPPORT FROM SAVAGE MESSIAH & DENDERA
Review By Chris Palmer
As I began my journey towards one of my favourite spots in London, I discovered that the temperature was a lot cooler for the middle of July. A hoodie was required, yet little did I know how hot the temperature was to become as the evening progressed.
I was traveling to Camden Town, to The Underworld in fact, in order to write my debut live gig review. I was somewhat nervous as I wouldn’t have the luxury of hitting the “repeat” button, an option I enjoy using when reviewing albums. Oh no, this is one listen, absorb, notate, return home, and write! Yet, the closer I got to Camden Town, the more excited I became. I was attending a live performance of Heavy Metal music in a venue I love.
I was greeted by a queue of anticipated fans like myself when I arrived at 6:40pm, which surprised me a little considering the early start time on a Thursday evening. When the doors opened at 7pm, I received my pass and headed on down into the abyss below that is The Underworld.
At approximately 7:45pm the sounds of a familiar intro are heard coming through the PA, during which opening act Dendera [8/10] enter. I make no excuses in admitting that I absolutely love this five-piece from Portsmouth and have seen them live countless times. With three albums to their name, this quintet aren’t short of songs and are still basking in the exploits of last year’s excellent “Pillars Of Creation” release.
They burst straight out of the blocks with “Claim Our Throne” amongst an onslaught of heavy riffs, drums, screaming guitars, and soaring vocals. With Stephen Main and David Stanton’s twin-guitar attack, Dendera’s blend of Heavy Metal is a joy to the ears as they plough through a five song set lasting approximately 30 minutes. The rhythm section of bassist Bradley Edison and drummer Andy Finch pummels the senses, as the front-line fans bang their heads in appreciation. Despite suffering with a virus, vocalist Ashley Edison, is again on top form as he rips through the set list, reaching the higher notes with ease.
The set is over in what feels like a matter of a few minutes as Dendera finish with “Disillusioned” … A set of excellent Heavy Metal, with the mind-blowing “Daylight Ending” being one of my favourites. What a perfect start to the evening.
Claim Our Throne
After a quick break to change over the equipment, the expectation levels increase a notch with the imminent arrival of London lads, Savage Messiah [9/10]. After witnessing this four-piece a few weeks ago at The Brooklyn Bowl, North Greenwich as support for the might Testament, I was eager to see them for a second time.
They certainly didn’t disappoint, exploding on to the stage with an avalanche of insanely fast and heavy riffs, drums, and piledriving bass lines as “Cross Of Babylon” begins. It’s immediately apparent that this band is going to be difficult to beat as the tempo increases with the arrival of the blazing ”Hellblazer” … The floor is now virtually full and the heat rises throughout the venue. Just when you thought the music was heavy, frontman and lead guitarist, Dave Silver, subsequently announces, “this is a song to bang your head to!” … And you know exactly what’s coming next … The truly epic title track from second album “The Fateful Dark”. What ensues is a sea of headbanging bodies throughout the entire venue, including yours truly! Absolutely awesome! That’s all I can say. The riffs from Dave and fellow lead guitarist, Sam S Junior, rip the venue a new one. The drums of Andrea Gorio and bass of Mira Slama deal out severe, unrelenting punishment as Savage Messiah plough through the remainder of a 40-minutes set.
It’s a set of non-stop Heavy Metal with additional speed. The twin guitars are superb with screaming solos and punishing riffs, which certainly gets the blood pumping faster! Dave’s vocal display is, again, superb and includes moments of truly outstanding soaring melodies. The fans lap it up, responding to the set which includes other favourites such as “Scavengers Of Mercy”, “Minority Of One”, and finishing with the brilliant “Insurrection Rising”. We’re also treated to a new, untitled number, which will be the title track of a new, upcoming album. What an absolute treat! I can’t wait for that to drop.
What an epic set by these local lads. This is one set that’s surely going to be difficult to top.
Cross Of Babylon
The Fateful Dark
Scavengers Of Mercy
Minority Of One one
After being allowed a little respite, the anticipation and excitement within The Underworld starts to grow as time draws near for the headline band to hit the stage. As the moment arrives, a rapturous applause meets the sound of intro music blasting through the PA. The wait is finally over, everyone in the venue chants the band’s name.
Bursting right out of the gate, Armored Saint [10/10] arrive to ecstatic mayhem as the Americans launch straight into the title track of last year’s release, “Win Hands Down” … The bar has just been raised to another level!
With six albums released, dating back to 1984, there certainly isn’t any shortage of songs in Armored Saint’s arsenal as we’re propelled through an awesome set lasting over 90 minutes. It’s a set which contains a majority of fan favourites, including numbers such as “Tribal Dance”, “Last Train Home”, “Chemical Euphoria”, “Left Hook From Right Field”, and “Human Vulture”.
Frontman John Bush [Anthrax] is on top form, controlling the fans with ease, virtually having them eating from the palm of his hand. His vocal style is mesmerising as he performs with soaring melodies and darts around the stage, banging his head and thumping his feet to the outrageous rhythm and grooves. Guitarists Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval are equally as good, as they play some outstanding riffs and guitar solos throughout, keeping the adoring fans happy with exceptional guitar-play. Of course, none of this would work without a powerhouse rhythm section to keep it all together. Drummer Gonzo Sandoval and bassist Joey Vera do just that with an exceptional performance. The latter putting on a masterful display as he gets nearer the fans at the front whilst beating his bass strings to perfection.
After 85 minutes the quintet leave the stage to the sounds of a full, sweating Underworld crowd chanting their name and clearly wanting more. Naturally Armored Saint don’t disappoint, returning to perform an outstanding encore consisting of the excellent “Can U Deliver” and “Mad House”.
What a truly brilliant set! For 90+ minutes, Armored Saint have blown The Underworld apart with a set of epic proportions. True Heavy Metal songs full of anthemic melodies and sing-along choruses … With every word sung back at full volume by the fans. After which the Americans leave the stage, subsequently leaving the whole building wanting more.
An absolutely epic night of live Heavy Metal comes to an end at 11pm, and everyone starts to slowly exit the building and begin their journeys home. I’m buzzing and sitting on cloud nine from such a brilliant four hours of music.
Both Dendera and Savage Messiah were excellent, as was expected. As for Armored Saint? Epic! That’s all I can say. Please don’t leave it so long to return to this little island next time!
Win Hands Down
March Of The Saint
Long Before I Die
Last Train Home
That Was Then Way Back When
Left Hook From Right Field
Reign Of Fire
Can U Deliver
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