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. November 1st this year is Damnation’s tenth anniversary, and as usual they have compiled an absolutely stellar lineup, with something for just about any extreme music fan including death metal titans Bolt Thrower, folksy black metallers Fen doom masters St. Vitus and even the grindcore stylings of Corrupt Moral Altar. Here Jack Traveller tells you about five bands you absolutely have to see; to see Phil Whitehouse’s picks, click here, and to see Danny Heaton’s picks, click here.
Ahab – 21:10 – Plastic Head Distribution Stage
Much like the White Whale itself, the arrival of slower-than-thou doomsters Ahab on our shores is a rare and ill-omened occurrence. Those who bear witness to the nautically-themed Germans can expect to be aurally dragged to the freezing depths of the abyssal plain, where even the sun fears to spread its wan rays, and entwined in skirling, tentacular melodies before being crushed by the sonic equivalent of hadalpelagic water pressure. It should be pretty good, in other words. It’s also worth mentioning that their drummer is called ‘Cornelius Althammer’, so his parents obviously had ‘doom drummer’ in mind as a career for young Cornelius when they named him.
Ahab’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AhabDoom
Code – 16:55 – Eyesore Merch Stage
Combining progressive black metal with first rate songwriting is always a recipe for excellence, and it’s something Code have a deserved reputation for. Dextrously maneuvering between storming blackened stomps and delicate arpeggiated jazz chords, the band satisfy those who want interesting musical ideas while not forgetting to include the casual listener by throwing down catchy vocal hooks like it ain’t no thing. After their intense performance at this year’s Temples Festival in Bristol I’ve been looking forward to catching the gloomy Londoners again, and I’d urge anyone who has an ear for the intricate to do the same. Let’s get skeletal!
Code’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/codeblackmetal
Corrupt Moral Altar – 13:00 – Plastic Head Distribution Stage
Music, as I have said numerous times in this publication, is a game of light and shade; tension and release. We all love a bit of grindcore violence, but all too often bands fail to leaven their ultra-abrasive riff salad with anything even slightly less chaotic. As a result the music has no room to breathe and the actual net heaviness of the record is lowered. Not so Corrupt Moral Altar, who recently put out what I’m going to call as the best grind album of 2014 with their debut (debut!) full length Mechanical Tides. CMA have a formidable live reputation, but I’ve actually never managed to catch them, so I’m interested to see what they do off the back of such an excellent record. Thinking man’s grindcore? No pressure, lads.
Corrupt Moral Altar’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CorruptMoralAltar
Winterfylleth – 16:15 – Terrorizer Stage
Latterly a solid fixture of the UK black metal scene, Winterfylleth’s excellent new album The Divinity of Antiquity shows that the band are still hungry and aren’t in danger of running out of ideas just yet! Always a decent live draw, Winterfylleth have really tightened up over the last couple of years and if you’re a fan of sweeping, epic black metal with all the crisp bite of a cold October morning and you’ve put off seeing them before, now would be an excellent time to rectify that. Read my review of their new record here
Winterfylleth’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Winterfylleth
Monarch – 19:20 – Plastic Head Distribution Stage
Have you ever inhaled a frequency? Bathed in the tar-like resonance of a 40Hz standing wave? Been forced to your knees by the oppressive weight of sub-bass clinging to the walls of a room? That is more or less what to expect from mysterious French doom outfit Monarch. Borrowing heavily from drone and funeral doom, Monarch sound something like Sunn 0))) might do if they had to borrow Electric Wizard’s guitar rigs following a catastrophic equipment failure. Presided over by frontwoman Eurogirl whose creepy whispers and horrific shrieks sound like the screams of a torture victim emanating from a castle dungeon, Monarch are another band who rarely make It to the UK, and as such are an essential part of this year’s damnation. Abase yourself before the altar of doom as their black amps rip the very air asunder.
Monarch’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monarch/121146434822
Damnation Festival’s Website: http://www.damnationfestival.co.uk