As Nightmare Festival's punters entered Camden Town on Saturday early afternoon, the whole place smelt like one big hangover from the first phase of Halloween events the night before. So what better way to knock that out than with an all day festival sprawled across multiple venues? Nightmare Festival boasted a host of upcoming and established acts, following excellently in the footsteps of its sister festival Camden Rocks, and whilst the early news filtered through that both Feed The Rhino and Hounds had pulled out, the atmosphere across the day was great. True to form, we've got thirteen key highlights covered below. Review from Thomas Donno (TD) and Neil Richardson (NR)

Kicking us off then was a dose of sleazy rock n roll made even sleazier with the lead singer of Duchess (9/13) in a full vintage ladies dress, setting the tone for the amount of costumes that were to be seen throughout the day. Dingwalls was far from full, maybe not even busy but as a 1pm start may have been too early for many, the lead singer had no problem in getting all those in attendance, from the front to the rear of the venue, in joining him in singing the "heys" in the right place. Plenty of charismatic quality as well as good old fashioned rock on display here. The singer managed to go back stage and do two costume changes during the 30 minute set, including sparkly jump suit with fur coat. There was more than a hint of an early Semi Precious Weapons performance here. This was a great fun way to start the day. NR

Our current band of the month, Star Scream (12/13), put on exactly the kind of performance that earned them this distinct level of praise. This was all despite the afternoon sunshine pouring into the venue and taking away an element of the dark gothic feel they bring. Instead the music got pushed to the fore and all that can be said is, wow. They kicked off with fast paced rock that set the igniters on full blast and didn't let up throughout the set. If ever a band suited a festival such as Nightmare, it is Star Scream as they pushed themselves to become yet another set of the day contender. For most of those in the venue it would have been Star Scream's Roseblood being hummed on the journey home. Mint. NR

Next up back at Dingwalls came a band of very different style. There were no cat suits here that's for sure. Brutai (9/13) have been receiving a heap loads of good press at the moment, and can certainly count themselves as a band on the rise at the moment. Their energy live stems actually from keyboardist and vocalist Alex Lorimer, who looked like he had been stuck right on the edge of the tight confines of the stage tonight. But, it is the atmospherics and almost proggy edge coming from that side of things which stops Brutai being just another Metalcore band. Impressive performance, and worked the crowd well despite the small numbers. TD


The Corby quartet, Acoda (9/13), continue their rise and once again show why they are a band that have been impressing the R13 team. Playing full on aggressive rock, mixing screaming vocals with the melodic, the set was crammed full with heavy head banging riffs. The bassist finished off the set playing in the crowd before doing head over heels on the small stage. Looked like the band certainly enjoyed themselves. Not quite at the level of fellow screamers, Max Raptor, as far as a polished performance is concerned but they had moments which showed the future will be bright. NR

Moving over to The Underworld for the first time today, we caught the excellent To The Bones (11/13) whose riff fuelled set woke a lot of people up, and softened the blow of the news that FTR had pulled out which was beginning to filter through the crowd. Big shout out here needs to go to bassist Jude Jagger, whose underlying groove was consistently excellent, helping the band sound very tight. There are clear influences here from the likes of Kyuss and QOTSA as the sleazy, powerful, riffs pretty much dictate everything. You don't see many bands coming out of Bolton, but this lot are out to make a statement. Again much like Brutai, the crowd wasn't massive (due to it being so early) but they did very well to work with what they had - a superb set. TD

The Salford trio in Shoshin (10/13) have built up a bit of a reputation for not exactly playing by the rules. However, today saw no need to break or bend any rules with their impressive afternoon set at a busy Jazz Cafe. Lead singer Pete Haley may have been suffering with the flu but there was no chance of Shoshin pulling out at the last minute, instead it was fun filled mixed bag of Alternative, Urban, Rock, Reggae, Rap and some more Rock. The crowd certainly enjoyed it, which included something not often seen at a rock gig, skankers, with the whole experience spurring pleas for one more song at the end of the set. NR

Time to ramp up the unusual factor. Hailing from Norway, Jesus Fucking Christ (9/13) consists of Remi Semshaug Langseth and his backing tapes/synth. What Remi loses in band members he makes up for in entertainment and energy. Singing his way through a series of hardcore electric punk he is all over the venue during the set - up on the amps, by the bar singing to the barman and even entering the ladies toilets much to the non-amusement of the occupants judging by how the door was slammed shut as he departed. One member of the audience mentioned that Remi's performance was so angry it was as if 'someone had stolen his house keys and shat through his letterbox'. Definitely an artist to check out at least once, if only for the fun factor. NR

A packed underworld enjoyed a superb set from the Midlands quartet Max Raptor (11/13) up next. Powerful and aggressive from the start, it didn't take much to get the crowd on the floor to go mad, especially during The Great and The Good. The guys clearly appreciated the energy given by the crowd by going out of their way to double it on the stage. Dressed in their usual all black, the irony was not lost on lead singer Wil Ray "As you can see we have made an effort with our Halloween costumes". It is performances like this that show Max Raptor are one of the bands waving the musical Union Flag to the world at the moment. NR

Back over at Dingwalls Hawk Eyes (11/13) put in another real contender for performance of the day as their aggressive, eclectic breed of Rock absolutely smashed its way around the venue. Opening with a couple of tracks from their last record Ideas they were able to spur on a good reaction from the crowd. Alongside these, as we noted in the preview feature might happen, we were also treated to a new song which was also went down very well. If you're going to start picking through individual performances with this lot then the drummer's furious energy is absolutely manic and along with the strobe lighting it made for an intense effect. Hawk Eyes are a great band on record, but certainly on the back of this performance (and the added headlining slot in order to replace Hounds later that night), live they're just a different beast. They're slowly building into a band who will end up intimidating other acts they're on a bill with due to their ability on stage. TD

We first crossed paths with Death Koolaid (10/13) while the played the excellent 'Alternative Music Stage' at Brighton Pride - where they were by far and away the heaviest band on the bill. While they couldn't take that accolade today they played a whirlwind set playing in front a busy Black Cap, which included female storm troopers and Mad Hatters in the crowd. On stage, the band dressed in their usual gothic meets industrial outfits played another excellent set of songs from their debut album Vol.1, which had hints of Marilyn Manson's Beautiful People flowing through it. Death Koolaid are definitely worth checking out - certainly have quality in abundance. Only downside, no Koolaid was shared with the crowd today. For a band that has only been on the scene a short space of time they have gained a good loyal following already and no surprise on performances like this. NR

Following on from this was a very different band at The Underworld, as The Algorithim (10/13) both stunned and baffled the punters inside in equal measures. If you were unaware of what they're all about then live they leave a big enough impression to make you at the very least remember them. The blend of huge beats a la Drum 'N' Bass and Dubstep along with absolutely massive riffs makes this a proggy, djenty, heavy blend of chaos. It is an acquired taste, certainly, but there is no denying the kind of impression they're able to make on stage. Especially considering it is effectively one man and his drummer - huge and powerful sounding. TD

While having locations like Hawley Arms have 'pop up' stages do add to the flavour of events like Nightmare, unfortunately on this occasion the sound was not up to the standard experienced at pretty much every other venue. The Brooklyn trio, GHXST (10/13) had their set blighted with technical issues, not least when the sound engineers could not get a second microphone to work and even managed to turn off their digital backing sounds. Nevertheless, they ploughed through performing their blend of slow, heavy, doomy riffs and when all technical sides did finally begin to behave, it sounded just great. Marked down here due to the technical aspect, a stark contrast to their show recently at The Garage, but nonetheless tunes like Black Camero still rocked live even with the problems. NR

As we moved in the latter stages of the festival, Howling Bells (8/13) took to the Dingwalls stage and whilst they were a long way from being the rockiest outfit on the bill that should not detract from the fact that Howling Bells have built up a loyal fan base, and on the evidence of tonight's set you begin to understand why. They performed a tight polished performance ranging from soft alt-rock to dreamy dark gothic rock. It was strange seeing so many middle aged men with receding hairlines down the front but it was a happy atmosphere so who can complain. NR

So then, on we go from happy to the maniacal. The keyboards and accessories were stripped off the stage in preparation for what was almost definitely the best performance on the day. THE HELL (12/13) came on to the stage (to the most packed the Underworld got all day) and unleashed a level of bedlam unparalleled compared to the rest of the festival. Tracks like Everybody Dies, Groovehammer and Bangers & Mosh instigated some of the most ludicrous sing alongs you'll ever hear, but what an experience. If you've never even heard of this band before it is going to be pretty hard to describe what exactly they're all about here, but there is no question that they're able to deliver an absolutely powerful performance. Groovehammer is right, there is no other band who smash out the kind of groove they do with only two strings on each guitar and the bass. Compared to Camden Rocks it certainly felt like there were a lot less people around, so it says a lot that The Underworld was packed out for this unbelievably aggressive slab of fun. TD