Damnation is an unmissable one-day festival for those with an ear for the more extreme end of the metal conveyor belt. Annual attendee Paul Castles previews some of those acts set to take Leeds University by storm this year.
Conjurer and Kroh will ensure that early arrivals to this year’s Damnation Festival will be treated to a Midlands double header. Both bands are among the leading lights of the Midlands underground scene with sludge destroyers Conjurer chalking up a quickfire double having made their Bloodstock bow just a couple of months ago. You can catch them early doors on the Eyesore Merch Stage while the emerging Kroh are first band up on the 4th stage. Kroh are currently riding on the back of a stack of favourable reviews of debut album Altars (reviewed here) while recent support slots in Birmingham alongside Anaal Nathrakh and SubRosa show that they’re every bit as formidable live as in the studio.
The annual Damnation Fest, staged across four platforms at Leeds University on Saturday 5 November, showcases a host of extreme metal talent with the main Jagermeister Stage this year headed by Dorset doom titans Electric Wizard. Expect an ear challenging performance of downtuned debauchery, the slower the better with these face-melting legends of the doom underground. Not only is their name the result of a merger of two Black Sabbath songs, their sound also pays its dues to the original Brummie doom pioneers.
It may at times feel like you need a sat-nav to locate the tucked away 4th Stage but it often plays host to some incredible acts at Damnation. This year is no different and when the likes of the ethereal Darkher and head crushing The Infernal Sea are to be found downstairs then it’s a journey worth making. Darkher were recent visitors to Birmingham’s Rainbow and other names to have been in the Midlands recently include the prolific instrumental outfit Bossk while the re-emerging Mithras are set to visit Brum a week before Damnation when playing at Mama Roux’s.
Damnation invariably manages to deliver a couple of rare one-off shows and this year that comes in the form of Cult of Luna who will be performing recently released album Mariner in its entirety alongside Julie Christmas whose vocal contribution added a whole new layer to Cult of Luna’s already memorable anthems. Only five of these shows featuring Julie have been arranged by Cult of Luna and Leeds is the only one in the UK. As such it’s no surprise to see them secure a Jagermeister Stage slot for what promises to be one of the day’s standout moments.
One of the grandees of the black metal world follows on the Jagermeister Stage in the distinctive guise of Abbath, now performing with his own self-named new band following his departure last year from Norwegian BM giants Immortal.
The second largest platform across the sprawling campus site is the Terrorizer Stage, headlined this year by Norwegian legends Enslaved, currently celebrating their 25th anniversary. Other highlights on the Terrorizer Stage include Aussie instrumentalists Ne Obliviscaris and Akercocke currently enjoying a renaissance on the back of their mindblowing comeback show at Bloodstock in August.
The Referendum vote fortunately has not hit Damnation who have traditionally welcomed a host of Euro visitors to the party. This year is no different with the Eyesore Merch Stage the place to catch French post metal sludge crew Erlen Meyer and Portuguese doom hounds Sinistro, whose album Semente won many admirers this year (reviewed here). Sinistro also play at the Institute in Birmingham the following week. Alongside these will be Norway’s blackened hardcore quintet, Attan, first up on the Terrorizer Stage, who will be enjoying their debut UK appearance at Damnation.
Headlining the Eyesore Merch Stage this year are Italian psychedelic sludge trio Ufomammut. The night ends with more monolithic sounds from the aforementioned Electric Wizard on the Jagermeister Stage, alternatively for those seeking a death metal finale check out Mancunian mob Ingested on the 4th Stage.
As always Damnation’s ability to attract a stellar line-up and squeeze them all into one day of spellbinding music should leave you gasping with gratitude. See you in Yorkshire!
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