Ah, November. for some people this means getting up in the dark for work, Bonfire night, and the implacable advance of Christmas, like a merry juggernaut of gluttony and financial ruin. For any metalhead in the UK worth his or her salt however, November can only mean one thing; the annual instalment of Damnation Festival at Leeds University Union, and the last hurrah of the festival season. And what a feast for the ears they’ve found for us this year; with a lineup featuring all strata of the underground, from up and comers like Witchsorrow and Winterfylleth to established heavy hitters like My Dying Bride and Belphegor, the festival is sure to inject a little jollity into the grimmest time of the year.
Naturally, OneMetal.com couldn’t be seen to miss out on such a feast of metallic excellence; so, on Saturday the 3rd of November, we’ll be dispatching our fearless festival correspondents Danny Heaton, Jack Traveller and Phil Whitehouse to sample the delights on offer across the festival’s three stages. Until then, however, we sat them down to scribble down their thoughts on the bands they’re most looking forward to seeing when Damnation Festival opens its doors. If you haven’t already gotten your ticket for the festival, and seeing us gushing over our most-anticipated bands convinces you that you need to attend, tickets for the festival are available from http://www.damnationfestival.co.uk for a ridiculously cheap £32.
Danny: Belphegor – Terrorizer Stage, 20:30 – 21:30
Austrian blackened death sexdiktators Belphegor have certainly had an eventful time of late. Lead vocalist/guitarist and original founder member Helmuth was taken ill last year following the release of their 9th album Blood Magick Necromance, forcing the band into hiatus. In true Nietzschean spirit, however, he seems to have come back stronger from this life-threatening experience, with a new release scheduled for next year, featuring none other than Erik Rutan behind the production desk, in addition to a series of European dates to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Belphegor are no strangers to the UK, touring here fairly regularly, having last graced this sceptred isle in 2010 on the back of their Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn release alongside brothers of blasphemy, Deicide. Although embellishment and temperance will be far from the order of the day, eschewed in favour of speed and extremity, this daemonic ritual should not lack for punch, delivering a defibrillating dose of diabolism.
Belphegor’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/belphegor
Jack: Electric Wizard – Jagermeister Stage, 21:30 – 23:00
Under Saturn’s rays, they rest, in eternal sleep, but the dope smoke emanating from Damnation 2012 has violated the tomb of The Wizard, and they have awakened to bring us our doom. Possibly the first and last word in stoner doom, and fit to be mentioned in the same weed-scented breath as luminaries like Sleep and St. Vitus, Electric Wizard are true legends. Easily in the top three live bands this reviewer has ever seen, Electric Wizard play live with a tightness and crushing intensity that their recorded output doesn’t even begin to hint at. I can categorically say this is the band I am most looking forward to at this year’s Damnation.
Electric Wizard’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/electricwizarddorsetdoom
Jack: Extreme Noise Terror – Terrorizer Stage, 17:30 – 17:35
Venerable grindfathers Extreme Noise Terror will be gracing Damnation 2012 with the crusty, punk-indebted style of grind that they helped pioneer. In 2011 ENT suffered the death of long time vocalist Phil Vane, but never a band to allow line up changes to stop them, ENT have recruited Roman Matuszewski to step up to the plate and snarl alongside fellow vocalist and founding member Dean Jones. Damnation will hardly be a baptism of fire for Roman; the band have recently been on tour in Brazil with him, but it will be very interesting to see what he brings to the ENT, and how fans on the band’s home turf react. Always an uncompromisingly politically- and socially-aware band, ENT are sure to forcibly inject the day with the true spirit of grind.
Extreme Noise Terror’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/extremenoiseterroruk
Danny: Gama Bomb – Jagermeister Stage: 17:40 – 18:20
This year it comes down to Ireland’s Gama Bomb to fly the flag for thrash at Damnation. Indeed if one were to pick fault with the line-up, it would be that it seems to have an unfortunate dearth of joviality, but then I will concede that the name Damnation Festival tends to suggest this might be the case! However, for anyone becoming bogged down in the succession of doom, grind and black metal which is prevalent on the bill, these chaps will undoubtedly provide some welcome relief. Addressing such burning issues as zombies, boozing and thrash, Gama Bomb take the spirit of the ‘80s and distil it into a mixture of beer and brains. Although this kind of take on thrash has attracted criticism for its perceived lack of originality and artistic redundancy bordering on pastiche, it would have to be a truly humourless pedant to dismiss their live antics for this reason. If this prompts anyone to accuse me of being crass or unsophisticated I plead guilty as fuck!
Gama Bomb’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gamabomb
Phil: My Dying Bride – Jagermeister Stage: 20:00 – 21:00
Northern death/doom metal miserablists My Dying Bride have been plying their gloomy trade for twenty-two years, leaving in their wake a raft of records that blend mournful, tear-jerking melodies with lead-heavy riffs and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe’s tormented croons and pained growls to beautifully despondent effect. Their remarkable consistency has allowed them to amass a veritable treasure trove of lengthy, lachrimosal anthems, which kind of makes it a shame that their hour-long stage time at Damnation Festival may only give them time to play six or seven of them. That said, perhaps it’s for the best – wallowing too long in the beautiful melancholy of My Dying Bride‘s music might leave the audience too emotionally drained to shuffle to the next set. Unless, of course, the band deploys the death metal bludgeon of ‘The Forever People’ to close their set and send us on a way in a more energetic manner.
My Dying Bride’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Dying-Bride-Official-uk/282179138510618
Jack: Pig Destroyer – Terrorizer Stage: 22:00 – 23:00
Playing their first UK show in almost a decade, sinister US grinders Pig Destroyer are undoubtedly the jewel in Damnation’s crown. Sure to be airing material from their highly-anticipated new album Book Burner, Richmond VA’s finest alone are worth Damnation’s very wallet-friendly ticket price to a lot of festival-goers. Advocates of the more vicious, metallic side of grind, the synergy between guitarist Scott Hull’s focussed, spiteful riffing and drummer Adam Jarvis’s lightning fast, dizzyingly intricate drum patterns is something that has to be seen to be beheld, something that, for the first time in 8 years the UK scene is being given the opportunity to do. Add to that frontman JR Hayes’ at times socio-political, at times disturbingly personal lyrics and you’re onto a winner. Not to be missed.
Pig Destroyer’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRealPigDestroyer
Phil: Primordial – Jagermeister Stage: 18:50 – 19:30
It can’t have escaped the notice of long-time readers of OneMetal that we’re fans of Irish pagan/black metallers Primordial around these parts. The grandiose, almost triumphant fatalism of last year’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand got our very own Rob McAuslan all hot under the collar (as you can see from his review of the album), and the prospect of hearing vocalist Alan Averill bellow forth the lyrics to the band’s stirring odes to struggle and tragedy on Damnation Festival’s Jagermeister stage certainly has this humble scribe excited. For forty minutes on Saturday the 3rd of November, the Leeds University Union is sure to shake with the collective roars of a crowd fired up by Primordial’s soulfully-scarring compositions. I, for one, can’t wait.
Primordial’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/primordialofficial
Phil: Textures – Jagermeister Stage: 16:35 – 17:15
While Dutch progressive metallers Textures may perhaps not be as well-known as the likes of Meshuggah and Sikth, they’re possibly equally as influential on the contemporary metal scene as both of those bands. Their blend of technical, polyrhythmic compositions, anthemic uplift and ambient spaciousness has had readily-audible influence on the likes of current ‘djent’ titans such as TesseracT and Periphery, and while those bands have gone on to great acclaim, Textures themselves have quietly continued releasing stirringly effective albums. Their set on the Jagermeister Stage at Damnation Festival 2012 will hopefully serve to significantly increase this highly-deserving band’s profile.
Textures’ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/textures
Danny: Wodensthrone – Eyesore Merch Stage: 15:30 – 16:00
The state of the UK black metal scene is arguably healthier today than it has been since the salad days of Venom in the early ‘80s. Their north eastern compatriots Wodensthrone are one of the foremost exponents of this resurgence, setting themselves apart from their Scandinavian brethren by firmly rooting themselves in English folk tradition. This has resulted in the oft-shunned label of English Heritage Black Metal being applied to them, as well as scene- and label-mates Winterfylleth, with whom they will share the stage at this year’s festivities. Indeed, Damnation Festival has excelled itself in championing a variety of acts associated with this black metal renaissance, boasting previous performances from the likes of A Forest of Stars and Dragged into Sunlight. Following the release of their second full-length Curse earlier this year they completed a run of UK dates with the aforementioned A Forest of Stars. If their Damnation set matches the standard they set at the Leeds leg of that tour we’re certainly in for a treat.
Wodensthrone’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wodensthrone-Official/171070939643664