Damaj @ the Glasgow Cathouse 31/7/15

Recently, we covered up-and-coming Scottish thrashers Damaj, and I have to say we were quite impressed with their debut EP, so when we got the chance to see them live, we jumped at it. How did this young bunch of lads from Greenock perform? Read on.

The fact that the guys are third on the bill tonight tells you straight away their standing in Scotland’s second city. Even with such a good start on the roster, they still only get a half hour slot, which for me was a shame, and went by far too fast.

I did get a chance to meet up with the band prior to the show, and it surprised me at how confident in their own talents they are. I am not talking about the Mr Malmsteen style confidence (otherwise known as arrogance), as they are completely down to earth, but totally focused on what they want to do, and how they want to do it. They are so optimistic and excited by the open road in front of them, that I pray they do not get dented by the knocks that will definitely come around. They need to keep on the path they are treading and follow the guitarist James Haggart’s youthful, but very mature, designs.

The venue is pretty full by the time the band hit the stage, and with the fact that two bands have preceded them, you can tell there have been many visits to the bar by the crowd, who just want to be entertained. They kick off with “Drink or Die”, which the frenzied mob are literally taking as a physical challenge, and will do one or the other. It has to be said that the bands female followers have definitely bought into this big time, with one of the band members girlfriends definitely bordering on the one too many (no name, no pack drill). “Drink or Die” is from the recently released EP, and is a great song to kick off with. Next up was the title track from the EP, “ The Contract”. This builds solidly and has James hanging over the monitor with a menacing stance and a determined stare. For the whole gig, I could not put my finger on who he reminded me of, and it was not until I was on my journey home it hit me…Chris Howorth from In This Moment. You only need apply the dusty face paint and get that hair dreaded and you have a perfect match.

For the boys, the next song just seemed to be jinxed as they had to change the original track due to drum kit restrictions and they settled on a cover of Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction”. Maybe big Dave wasn’t too happy about this, as the guitarist and lead vocalist Daniel “one strap” Stewart found out the strap on his second guitar has burst with no replacement. This made for a few shouts of  “get me a chair” before we could proceed. You have to hand it to them as they knocked out an excellent version and I doubt Mr Mustaine ever played it from a chair!

The song “Inside” lead perfectly onto my favourite, “ For the Wicked”. I had been dying to see this one performed live since I heard it on their EP, and I was not disappointed. It has a great intro, before blowing away all in its path in a seriously heavy groove. This song is worth the ticket price on its own. Damaj finished with “We Never Die” and it is all over. The band played a stormer, and I was seriously impressed with the all-round technical ability, professionalism and stage presence from every one of them. This is why they are supporting the likes of Nervosa, Fury, and Kaine and some as yet undisclosed slots.

Keep your eyes open for these guys and stay tuned to DGM for news of upcoming full length releases and further live reviews. This band is definitely worth your time and money.

Review and photography:  Ritchie Birnie
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