Transatlantic five-piece Dorja gathered in the same city for the final time this year to bring a successful 2017 to a fitting end in London on Tuesday evening. Joined by Gelato and Duke of Wolves, the rockers put on one hell of a show at The Black Heart in Camden – which is swiftly becoming my favourite venue, and is a must visit for any rock / metal lovers out there.
The evening began in fine fashion with London quartet Duke Of Wolves, who kicked off with Hollow Eyes, which fused great high vocals from frontman Jim with the booming sounds from lead guitarist Orlando.
They followed that up with a song that opened with a cool wah-infused solo and huge drums, then dropped down into funky supporting chords and laid-back vocals. The verse was followed by big smashes of guitars before a singalong chorus – kind of giving me the vibe of early days, rocky Stereophonics. Jim was hitting some huge high notes then a big rock out was followed by another big solo, and drummer Tom got the crowd clapping along before they dived into a huge rockout to end with.
More audience engagement followed as Jim asked “do you feel like singing?” and got us shouting “nah nah nah” vocals. This song saw a great little drum solo, but the highlight was all four of the band members singing through the choruses, which sounded huge.
Next was a “brand brand brand new song” that they were playing live for the first time. It opened with a cool Eastern sounding riff, then vocals that got gradually higher pitched through a really fun chorus. An a capella call of “Save me” was met by heavy guitars and high vocals, then it ended with big guitars and a cool bassline from bass player Sara.
Jaunty new single Teddy Boy followed, featuring low tuned guitars and loads of cymbals in the intro followed by some cool rolling guitar chords. Then Terry The Serial Killer opened with a big drum intro then fun smashes of guitar after high pitched vocals through the chorus. Jim got the crowd singing some big high pitched noises, then they rocked out, did a Mannequin Challenge – remember that? – and a final chorus, or so I thought. There was still time for another solo then a huge rockout just as we thought the track was done. It was a really impressive performance.
Their final song, and another brand new one at that, Do What You Want left us with, in their words, “a very, very sexy song, if we do say so ourselves.” It opened up with a big chunky guitar riff then stabs of high guitar after a cry of “Do what you want” before dropping into the a cool vocal-led verse. It build up again with growing drums that led into the chorus, then everything dropped out bar a lingering wah guitar sound that built towards another chorus, then a big solo, followed by a big drum roll and huge fast-paced guitars to finish a hugely enjoyable set.
Next up was the rawer sound of fellow London trio Gelato. They opened up with a track that had me hooked instantly with their driving drums and big bass sound, then followed it up with new song Nosey, which opened with a cool little riff then picked up the pace in a heavier chorus.
Next, Get My Way opened with a fun riff with smashes of bass drum from Callum Green followed by frontman Drew Wynen’s raw vocals through an opening verse dominated by a pounding bassline from Jacob Roos. Bigger guitasr chords came in alongside some fun “ooh ooh” vocals, then a load of random noises – which aided the Nirvana vibe I was getting from them.
That was followed by Ruffians, which opened with vocals over palm-muted chords through a laid-back verse that was smashed open by a faster, heavier chorus, followed by more “oo-oo” vocals.
Another new track Humans followed, opening with fun choppy chords then a rolling guitar lick that fed into a fun, sneaky verse that gradually build towards heavier choruses. Drew then “dared to tune” into drop-D without his tuner for Room Service, which opened with a cool guitar riff intro, then he switched the sound off on his guitar and carried on playing, before pumping out the fun riff once more.
Their final song opened with big drums and a huge riff that gave way to a cool riff throughout the verse, then a chunky riff that led into a fun verse. A quick rockout led into another verse, then it all slowed right down and little flicks of guitar led into a singalong chorus. A cheeky little wah-wah solo was followed by a low-tuned rockout that fed into a final chorus.
Upon returning to the upstairs venue having replenished my pint glass, I discovered a group of older chaps had blocked off my prime position at the front of the audience (that’s my excuse for some poor quality photos!). The mid-set music bizarrely stopped well before they were ready, but that didn’t put off our headliners for the evening, the UK, Belgium and Kazakhstan hailing members of Dorja.
They opened up with a funky riff and a cry of “I’m breaking down” and a brilliant amalgamation of big vocals and flying riffs before Rosie Betterill flew into a huge solo.
The next song opened with cool little mini guitar solos that flowed into some ridiculously good vocals from Aiym Almas, then a huge high-pitched solo from Sarah Michelle. A rocky ending saw guitars flying all over the place, which attracted the impressive praise from one inebriated audience member: “You’re too good to advertise.” He had a point, they rock, but he was dubiously hammered.
They swiftly moved on to the delicious Not In Your Shadow, on which Aiym’s impressively diverse vocals came to the fore, with huge drums from the brilliant Anna Mylee throughout.
That was followed by a song that they genuinely wrote the day before, Chainbreaker (“for now”). It opened with funky opening guitar riffs that fed into higher guitars over the verse vocals, and more high guitrars through a chorus that ended in darting guitar riffs and moaning vocals. More really cool high-pitched guitar fed into a big rockout and a guitar-off that led into a solo by Sarah.
The seductive Target Practice opened with an awesome bass intro by Becky Phillips then a cool laid-back verse was soon blasted away by Aiym’s big booming vocals, before Sarah jumped onto the top of the stage to smash out another massive solo.
Next was Dorja’s brilliant new single Far Gone, which opened with a cool riff and a winding verse that fed into a big singalong chorus. It soon descended into huge rock noise with big vocals then an awesome drum-and-bass-off between Anna and Becky.
Then, not content with nailing the song they’d finished the day before, they played a song that they finished earlier that day. It opened with light palm-muted guitars alongside atmospheric vocals that were smashed open by a big guitar riff then huge vocals that dominated despite some massive riffery. A low-tuned guitar riff followed the second guitar chorus then building guitars and drums saw Rosie steal the solo limelight back with another huge blitz. They wrote this song on the same day and it sounded like they’d been playing it for years – it was seriously impressive.
They closed out – or so they told us – with another track from this year’s debut EP, the also excellent Fire. Big rocky riffs and huge vocals dominated, then an awesome vocal-only section led into a huge smash out underneath Aiym repeating “I’m on fire.”
Upon the request of the old boys at the front they played one more, which turned out to be a hugely impressive cover of Audioslave’s Show Me How To Live, which gave Rosie and Sarah another chance to show off their undoubted ability to rip it up.
But they weren’t done there as they then actually play their final song, Helter Skelter – much to one of the old chaps’ delight, which flowed into Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. This saw huge drum solo by Anna and gave us a final reminder of just how awesome Aiym’s voice is on the big repeats of “my, my, my” and the final cry of “one more time.”
Before seeing – and meeting, of which you can read more shortly – Dorja, I’d read claims like “transatlantic hard rock sensation” and “one of the most exciting bands in years” and, on the basis of seeing them live, it’s very easy to see why. They’re obviously hugely talented, they smash out awesome rock songs packed full of big riffs, solos and pounding drums, with some awesome hard rock vocals to boot.
This was a great gig with Dorja topping off excellent, really engaging performances by Gelato and Duke Of Wolves.
You can follow Dorja on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check out their music on Spotify and iTunes. You can follow Gelato on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check out their music on Spotify and iTunes. And you can follow Duke of Wolves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram check out their music on Soundcloud and Spotify, and see them play a single launch party at Hoxton Kitchen on 2 December.