Since its humble beginnings in Jillys Rockworld in Manchester in 2005 Damnation has grown steadily into one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the UK Metal calendar.
Now housed in the altogether grander setting of Leeds University, Damnation is upon us again for the ninth event in it’s history and as ever, a stellar line-up is featured.
For the first time in the festival’s history there will be four stages running. The main Jagermeister stage, the extreme metal of the Terrorizer stage, the post-rock eclecticism of the Eyesore Merch Stage and the 4th stage, the Electric Amphetamine, that’s exclusively dedicated to the Doom / Sludge area of metal.
So, what of the bands then? Starting at the very top, the Jager stage will see the return of former Damnation headliners and legendary reborn Liverpool Death Metallers, Carcass (see video below). Fresh from the release of ‘Surgical Steel’, their first album in 13 years and ahead of a high-profile slot on the ‘Defenders of the Faith’ tour, Carcass at Damnation 2013 is a set not to be missed.
My personal highlight on the Jager stage is a rare live UK performance from Norwegian black metallers God Seed (see video below) who feature within their ranks one of the most infamous and controversial front men from the entire genre, Ghaal. Formed after the great Gorgoroth debacle, God Seed released the ‘I Begin’ album to critical acclaim and have forged a reputation as a fearsome live band. Expect original God Seed material and selected classics from Gorgoroth and some very sinister eye contact and pointing from Ghaal!!
Another band on the Jager Stage who is a must see is Twilight of the Gods, the latest metal ‘Supergroup’ featuring members of Primordial, Lock-Up and Aura Noir. This promises to be ‘True Metal’ in its purest form.
Norwegian ‘Black Jazzers’, Shining, Liverpool’s crossover thrashers, SSS and Sweden’s premier doom mongers Katatonia, who will be playing their ‘Viva Emptiness’ album in it’s entirety complete the varied line up for the Jagermeister stage.
Turning up the brutality to unprecedented levels will be the face-melting Terrorizer stage. If Death, Black and all metal inbetween is your thing, then that’s where you need to be heading. This year’s headliners are Greek Blackened Death Metal stalwarts Rotting Christ.
Another metal ‘Supergroup’ occupy the sub-headline slot in the form of Vallenfyre. This ‘Crusty Death Metal’ band feature members of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Doom. This is a very rare live event from them and I think it’s only their second ever UK show.
The band I will not be missing under any circumstances is Voices. Formed from the ashes of the much-missed Akercocke, Voices describe themselves as “Black Metal Erection” and on the strength of their debut album, I cannot disagree. Feel the jealousy and have your face well and truly torn off by the inhuman blasts of their drummer, David Gray.
Another ‘must see’ for me is the atmospheric and progressive Black Metal of Romanians, Negura Bunget. Negura present an altogether more ‘earthy’ take on the Black metal genre, none of your corpsepaint and screams of “SAATAANN!!” with this band, expect something a little more spiritual.
Over to the Electric Amphetamine stage and amid the incense and patchouli oil, some of the most heavy and monolithic bands on the face of this planet will be unleashing the doomiest of doom and the thickest of sludge. I must confess that the whole doom scene isn’t normally my thing, but I will be making an effort to check out some of the bands on offer, in particular, Conan and Moss.
The final stage at this years Damnation is given over to the Post-Rock end of the spectrum and with acts such as Cult of Lunar, Crippled Black Phoenix, The Ocean and Year Of No Light on the bill, it could well provide the most surprises of the day and a lot of casual visitors to that stage could well be leaving with ‘new favourite bands’.
Damnation is an annual event that regardless of the line-up is always well attended and supported by the metal scene. There’s a strong sense of community and a feeling that this is ‘our festival’, something that the more corporate events could only dream of.
If you have a love of the metal, get to Leeds, follow the trail of destruction that starts at ‘The Dry Dock’ pub, get in the gig and raise your pint and maybe even throw the horns to some of the greatest talent you will ever see in the space of one day. The only excuse to stop the metallic partying is to step outside to gorge on some of the finest festival food you could imagine, courtesy of Deli Kate.
Now, bring on the metal and beer!! Horns up people!!
Damnation Festival 2013 takes place at Leeds University Union on Saturday November 2nd.
Tickets are still available from the usual outlets.
All words by Andy Santiago. More writing by Andy on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.