It’s the beginning of October, so that can only mean we’re reaching the final countdown to another Damnation Festival, which takes place on November 5th at the usual Leeds Student Union! I for one am looking very much forward to undertake what has become my annual pilgrimage down to Leeds. This year’s line-up has something for every metal fan, from great doom, sludge, post-metal to various kinds of extreme metal. There are a couple of bands standing out for me on this year’s bill, bands who I have seen already, but the kind of bands I just can’t miss experiencing again. And as usual there are a few names on the bill I just need to check out, some of these are more up and coming bands, to which Damnation has always provided a space in the past, this year no less.
So to start with the big names I am most keen of seeing, I am most excited to see Cult of Luna perform their new album Mariner with Julie Christmas joining the band live on stage. This can only become a very special and memorable Damnation performance! Next band I can’t wait to see again is Ufomammut, who were phenomenal when I saw them at Audio in Glasgow last year and are headlining the Eyesore Merch Stage. On that same stage one of those up and coming bands you simply can’t miss are Conjurer who have taken the UK metal world by a storm the last year or so. Their live reputation is huge and they will most definitely be one of the favourites to watch early in the day.
The other big names on the bill, Electric Wizard, Abbath and Enslaved will definitely slay Leeds as well, though I’m hoping Electric Wizard will have a good day as you just can’t really tell with them anymore. Abbath will definitely bring this year’s theatrics to the big stage and I’m sure there will be a number of corpse painted look-a-likes walking around the Leeds Student Union that day. Enslaved will play a special ‘Spinning Wheel Ritual’ on their first Damnation appearance, which will surely make the diehard fans very excited!
I’m very happy to see Black Tusk getting another chance after they had to cancel quite last minute last year. They will surely rip the Eyesore Merch Stage a new one! But before that Bossk is a serious contender to destroy the stage as they never disappoint and I’m sure that their brand of post-metal will go down a treat.
There’s some great extreme metal scheduled this year as well, with Aussies Ne Obliviscaris no doubt playing a jaw dropping technical set and Mithras hopefully adding their extreme metal stamp. Their new album On Strange Loops is a mighty beast and I’m certainly looking forward seeing their live set. Recent No Obliviscaris tour companions Oceans of Slumber will make an appearance too to add some fantastic progressive metal to the mix. The legendary Akercocke has been leaving audiences very impressed during a recent string of UK dates as part of their return to the live stage and there will be many people hoping they won’t clash with any of the other big names.
As said there are always a number of smallish bands making an appearance too, some of which I’ve never heard of, some of which I have and some I’ve seen before. H A R K played a great set at Bannermans in Edinburgh recently, Dialects from Glasgow will bring a very energetic and captivating live show playing their math rock infused post-rock, Kroh from Birmingham impressed me hugely with their recent album Altars, full of riff-laden heavy metal inspired doom, whereas locals Gets Worse will hopefully get many people dancing as they bring their mix of powerviolence and grind to Damnation. Hardcore metallers Svalbard (labelmates on Holy Roar Records with Conjurer) will add to the dance party with a very energetic set (at least I hope so!). Fresh from their tour support for SubRosa, Sinistro will bring a slightly different style to the stage with their soundtrack-like ambient rock, which makes me wonder if they could be this year’s Sólstafir? Or will that honour go to Darkher, who has released the much anticipated debut album Realms earlier this year to much critical acclaim. Sadly things come to an end sometimes as well, and Hang the Bastard will play their last ever show at Damnation, but I can’t think of a better place to give them a well-deserved goodbye.
There is really something for everyone this year and for the small fee of £38 (!!), which is seriously DEAD CHEAP to see so many great bands, Damnation again shows why it’s one of the best one-day festivals in the UK if not Europe. The fact that this hasn’t sold out yet is just absolute madness!