Abandon the Faith, FSI, Wretched Soul @ Camden Rock

Review by by James Meakin

The final Saturday of September rolled around and Camden Rock opened its doors once more to three of the best up and coming Metal bands currently touring.
Phoenix Music PresentsTonight was always going to be special; the balmy air of an Indian summer flowed through the streets like warm streams of water, down Kentish Town Road and Camden High Street. Winter however is coming; soon the time will come to batten down the hatches, dig in and prepare for winter.

As the festival dirt under ones fingernails begins to fall away we journey head first into gig season. When warm air meets cold you are due a storm, and once again three terrifically under recognised metal bands churn up a blinding storm of positivity from the North London venue that epitomises atmosphere.

The first band to take a crack at the audience were Canterbury firebrands Wretched Soul who’s short 4 song set was simply fantastic. The stage was dominated by Chris Simmons. The blonde haired commander of the microphone put in a mesmerising shift and truly defined the role of front man.

The stage was most definitely not going to hold a vocalist with Simmons gravitas, he threw himself around the venue completely disregarding his own personal well being, dropping to his knees during ‘Unmaking’ and slinging his golden locks back to reveal a fire in his eyes. The guitar work was precise and well composed and executed with perfection from guitarist Steve Clifford whose technical ability was tested to the max through the solo of their closer ‘Dash to Destruction’.

The band exemplifies a modern take on Thrash mixed in with anthemic Scandinavian Black Metal influences. Their sound was fast and violent while at the same time extremely subtle fleshing out passages of terrific grandure. Luke Mayell helped lead the crowd in the chants during the closer while the cataclysmic drumming of Andy Clifford tied the entire show together. It was a shame that technical problems cut their set short but an even bigger shame these guys are not selling out headline tours. [4/5]

At first glance the concept of a synthesiser powered by an iPad would seem alien at a metal gig, unfortunately for FSI front man Jonas ‘Hellborg’ the tech gremlins struck again and rendered it silent. This opened up the gig to be a more stripped down and a thoroughly groove ridden affair. The band had the scale of Mastodon and the speed of Slayer.

Their solid chunky riffs created an almost stoner groove amongst their interpretation of thrash. The show was light-hearted and entertaining with drummer Al stoking the fire of the locomotive with gusto. The sound emanating from the flying V of Dave X was fantastic, a very old school guitar sound contributed to the colossal riffs.

The band however did not seem to click, the melodic vocal sections did not seem to work in the bands favour and Jonas’s decision to jokingly sit down on a stool mid set did not scream stage presence. However the atmosphere for their show was exemplary and generally enjoyed by the crowd. [3/5]

The headliners, Abandon the Faith, played a cracking set. They created an epic metalcore sound with keyboard laden grandiose black metal breakdowns. The vocal work of Adam Sherwood was extremely individual and would certainly divide opinion.

His performance was gigantic; Sherwood is a born showman and really drew the audience in conducting a mass headbang which was going to make anyone in attendance reach for the ice pack the following morning. The breakdowns were destructive and beautiful, extremely heavy with wondrous keyboard work from Liam Morely contributing heavily to the essence of the band.

The dual guitar solos from Pete Rogers and Darren Oakley were as accurate as two Special Forces snipers and juxtaposed joyfully with the keyboards and samples. The band’s well crafted songs and technical prowess in conjunction with being just so very heavy made the show fantastically digestible. The rhythm section of Mat Barber and Dan Amos carried the depth of a diamond mine and the strength of a freight train. The band leaves the stage with ‘We Are Legion’ leaving the audience with one question on its lips ‘Where do I sign up?’ [4/5]

Headline set:
Blood on the Shores
The Onslaught
Unholy War
Your Sorrow Pleads
Fall to Your Knees
Down in Flames
We Are Legion