Words by Sam Dignon & Fran Dignon – Photos by Fran Dignon.
With it’s biggest headliners ever, Camden Rocks 2015 was guaranteed to be a special day. The Bullet For My Valentine making their live return in a more intimate venue it’s no surprise today sold out. Still today wasn’t just about the headliners as the line up was packed with amazing bands.
Kicking things off at the Electric Ballroom was Lock & Key (7). The band stomp through a 30 minute set packed with all the riffs and breakdowns you could want. Vocalist Rich Lardner proves himself to be a very impressive front-man and despite not having an album out yet they already have an impressive collection of songs to play live. Their early set time means they don’t pull a huge crowd but those in attendance certainly enjoy what they see.
Down the road in The Black Heart, As Lions (7) were taking to the stage and despite being early in the day this room is packed out, clearly thanks to the band’s history. This has clearly not been the easiest few days for As Lions but it seems like nothing can stop them, Austin Dickinson (vocals) has the crowd in the palm of his hand and although they still have a lot of work to do, it seems outrageous that this is the band’s first tour together.
Over in the Underworld, Martyr Defiled (8) were busy proving why they are one of the most exciting young metal bands in the UK right now. With a distinct Game Of Thrones theme to their stage banter “The Starks of Metal” certainly win over a bunch of new fans today. A lot of people might have been unfamiliar with Martyr Defiled but by the time they drop the crushing 616, the mosh pit that erupts suggests people won’t be forgetting them any time soon.
Polar (8) are next up in the Electric Ballroom today, although polar are mostly used to playing far more intimate shows than today, this doesn’t phase them at all. The more melodic songs off their most recent album Shadowed By Vultures fill the room perfectly whilst their heavier moments see frontman Woody in the crowd, completely engaging all the fans in this busy room.
Glamour Of The Kill (5) play to one of the first full rooms of the day, with a queue forming outside and fans packed into the Underworld, expectations seemed high. It’s clear the band had many diehard fans in today with them down the front screaming every word back at the band. Despite this it’s hard to not be somewhat let down by this set. For a band who a few years ago showed a lot a promise, it’s disappointing that they have never really delivered on this potential.
Down the road Max Raptor (9) played to a completely packed out Barfly with plenty of people still queuing outside, desperate to get in. The British punks seem overwhelmed by the reaction they receive today but based on their performance it’s unsurprising that this many people are hear to see them. The likes of Obey The Whips and England Breaths have everyone bouncing along. Fans crowd surf, mosh and generally lose their minds for the entire set. The King Is Dead wraps things up with one final mosh pit and as the band leave the stage they take a minute to remind fans that shows like today are why they are still a band. Without a doubt this was the best set of the day so far.
God Damn (7.5) had the tough job of following this and while they never quite match Max Raptor, they still put on a very enjoyable set. Their prog rock might not inspire an insane reaction but the entire crowd seemed mesmerised the the huge riffs and pummeling drum beat. It might end up being one of the less accessible sets of the day but it’s certainly one of the more interesting ones. In the downstairs part of the Barfly, London rockers Chinese Missy (7) were also playing a very impressive set. Despite their status as a relatively new band they seem to have already nailed their live performance and manage to pull in a good crowd who all seemto enjoy the set. Their huge riffs completely filled the room and the political touch to their lyrics help separate them from other similar bands.
Back in the Electric Ballroom there was a real buzz as people waited for While She Sleeps (9) to take to the stage. “WHILE SHE SLEEPS” chants erupted from the crowd before the band even set foot on stage so it’s unsurprising that when they kick off with New World Torture the crowd completely explodes. The band then tear through the best material from Brainwashed and This Is The Six with the newer material now getting as good a reaction as the fan favourites like Our Courage, Our Cancer. A vicious rendition of Crows sees several members of the band storm in the crowd to get people moving before Seven Hills and Four Walls close out their set in a huge way. There is no denying now that While She Sleeps are on the best form of their career.
Finally it was time for Bullet For My Valentine (8) to close out the night. Opening with new single No Way Out provides a great taste of what to expect from their fifth album due out later this year. From there on the band play through a mostly greatest hits set. Unsurprisingly the likes of Scream Aim Fire and Four Words To Choke Upon get an amazing reaction. The band remain tight throughout and new member Chris Mathias seems to have slotted into the line up with ease. They also decide to play another brand new song Broken which definitely gives the impression that this album might be the return to form fans have been hoping for after the disappointing Temper Temper. In fact it seems like the band are well aware that people didn’t love Temper Temper as the only material we hear from it tonight is a brief chorus from Riot tacked onto the end of a medley they do. Closing with Tears Don’t Fall is easily the highlight of their set as everyone in the room sings along at the top of their lungs. Despite everything about this set being technically impressive it is slightly disappointing to see the band not take full advantage of this more intimate setting. It ends up just feeling like another Bullet For My Valentine show. This doesn’t ruin the set in any way but it is a shame that it doesn’t feel as special as it could have been.