There are a seemingly ever-increasing wealth of all-dayers and weekenders occurring in the underground metal world, and I’m sure a lot of them with any ambitions of scale and success would look to Damnation as the role model. It’s been honed over the years to delivering the goods in a condensed and intense day and nights raucous and enrapturing entertainment, now over four stages within the Leeds University Student Union.
Even the fact it is oop North and actually more central for the entire country rather than London-centric is a real bonus, and I regularly make the expedition over the Pennines to get my fill of the fine selection that organisers serve up each year. There are big draw names such as the former Immortal front man Abbath fronting his new accessible black metal onslaught, the progressive Viking metal behemoths Enslaved threatening to raze the place never mind the roof, and Electric Wizard (bottom) destroying what’s left of our minds at the end of the night as we give in to their cult of monolithic doom riff worship, but in selecting my own best laid plans to stagger through the day I thought I’d highlight some of the excellent alternatives too
Attan – all the way from Norway to open the bill, unheard by me beforehand, but their intriguing harsh blackened hardcore should blast the day off in fine style
Svalbard – saw these years ago in their native Bristol and then and each time since has been and intense and heart wrenching to experience their fierce hardcore with lyrics that cut deep, performance that demands attention
Gets Worse – local star men/chancers but the last time I saw them battering heads with their complex and crushing powerviolence was at Maryland Deathfest in the States, where they inspired mosh pits just in their soundcheck
Erlen Meyer – hopefully not just inspiring hipflask action, these French revolutionaries provide some harrowing and raw sludge metal, with an uncompromising and heartfelt delivery that should be nicely devastating.
Darkher – if you need a breather all the way from Hebden Bridge these will sooth your soul but haunt your dreams with their entrancing and brooding dark folk ambience, truly outstanding vocals to savour
Sinistro – may partly follow the above themes but the Portuguese also blend it with tsunami waves of walls of sound that will all but suffocate, til they raise you from the depths again with their more ethereal passages
Employed to Serve – explosive hardcore passion and fury from the London workforce, who were a revelation and highlight to me when first seen over here at a Kin Hell Fest. For all their progression they are still going to tear us apart
Cult of Luna (top) with Julie Christmas – what a present indeed, to have them here included on their limited dates showcasing the recent Swedish/U.S. collaborative “Mariner” album, where I expect to travel on a sonic journey of their epic post-metal, and have my mind expanded by their layered structures and emotive heaviness
Black Tusk – the guys from the Southern States were a relentlessly catchy riff machine when I caught their swamp metal at Hellfest previously, and despite the sad and untimely loss of their main man a couple of years back, full expect them to deliver the grooves here too
Dread Sovereign – a side project of Alan from Primordial, this should be a great celebration of reverberating retro doom. A slow nod to the old but dragged up to date with a huge majestic sound that makes them a definitive band for the day.
Ufomammut – these Italians very much do their own thing, swirling somewhere in a maelstrom of sludgey heavy riffs with an uplifting psychedelic element that leaves you not knowing whether you are coming or going, but definitely interested in what’s next
This is barely a third of the bands on the event, there are some clashes against these above of excellent bands that could leave you going “I’ll do both” as you try to negotiate the short distances between the stages, but ultimately it’s nice to be spoilt for choice and entertained whatever you end up seeing. The event is a celebration and there’s plenty of party spirit to go with that. Enjoy!
Damnation Festival – November 5th, Leeds University Union, LS2 9JT
Full Details at – http://www.damnationfestival.co.uk/
Tickets £38 from – http://www.damnationfestival.co.uk/tickets