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 Saint Vitus and even the grindcore stylings of Corrupt Moral Altar. Here Danny Heaton tells you about five bands you absolutely have to see; to see Phil Whitehouse’s picks, click here, and to see Jack Traveller’s picks, click here.
Fen – 22:30 – Eyesore Merch Stage
I have to admit that my excitement wasn’t immediately kindled by the addition of these prog black-metallers to the line up. Heretofore, if I’m to employ my trademark candour, Fen’s recorded output has been about as likely to stimulate me as an overheard conversation about Ed Sheeran. It seems, however, from preliminary leakings of their newer material that the London trio have found their way back to the path from which they set out, limiting their flowery meanderings just in time to save themselves from the Akerfeldt-esque toffee-nosery and getting down to some serious extreme metal which seems due to finally justify their frequent mentions in the same breath as their better-known cousins in Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone. Since live appearances are in short supply, this serves as further reason to catch Fen at Damnation, and I eagerly anticipate how they will fare on the same bill as the two aforementioned acts.
Fen’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fenofficial
Cannibal Corpse – 21:10 – Terrorizer Stage
Okay, so if we’re honest, The Skeletal Domain isn’t going to win any awards for originality and is a fairly uninspiring rehash of a blueprint which is starting to sound pretty tired these days. Despite this fact, however, you’d be conveniently overlooking the fact that Cannibal Corpse not only sired the entire genre of brutal death metal, but have honed their live show over the past three decades into an experience which is tantamount to iconic. There are arguably only a handful of acts who can measure up to their unrelenting stamina and precision as a live act, or indeed their propensity for making audiences almost irretrievably lose their shit. Especially if you’ve never seen this punishing live show, you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once before you die, if only to marvel at George Fisher’s irefully intimidating presence and monolithic neck.
Cannibal Corpse’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cannibalcorpse
Bast – 13:30 – Eyesore Merch Stage
A recent Manchester appearance ensured that I would follow the career of this London trio avidly, and the release of their debut full-length Spectres earlier this year certainly hasn’t done them any harm either, having garnered a glowing review on this very site amongst undoubted others. Combining shoulder-buckling doom with stark, dissonant grimness, they aren’t for the faint-hearted, but constitute a near perfect fit on this year’s bill which seems laced with even more melancholic misanthropy than usual. What’s more, Damnation veterans will appreciate how well-equipped the event will be to deliver their brand of brooding heaviness. My money’s on these lads appearing higher up the bill in subsequent years.
Bast’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bastmusic
A Forest of Stars – 18:30 – Eyesore Merch Stage
Such is the case for Leeds’ own Victorian gents (and lady) who appear noticeably later in the day than their last appearance in 2011. Although they’ve been on hiatus of late due to personnel changes, they’re certainly returning in style. Perhaps more than any modern black metal outfit, this retinue of ragamuffins always deliver a memorable and unique spectacle, bedecked in 19th century garb and boasting a stage-endangering profusion of players. What’s more I have it from a reliable source that some newer material is in the works which could just make an appearance in their Damnation setlist. Personally I’m eager to hear what they’ve come up with and to see the debut performance of their newest addition, the mysterious Mr William Wight-Barrow. My only reservation is an inconvenient clash with…
A Forest of Stars’ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aforestofstars
Orange Goblin – 18:30 – Jagermeister Stage
These UK stoner rock giants (literally in the case of Ben Ward) really need no introduction, but then we do have an obligation to the Damnation guys and gals to promote their event, which the absence of an introduction would serve poorly to fulfil. So, 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned was in the estimations of most a career highlight, and seems set to be trumped if not at least equalled by this year’s Back from the Abyss. Recorded output aside, they are without doubt, hands down one of THE best live bands this reviewer has had the pleasure of beholding, oozing charisma like perspiration, commanding their captive audience and delivering sets full of bangers spanning their twenty-year career to date. Aside from this, they are likely to deliver the most fun performance of a day dominated by doom and gloom, so if you like a bit of levity with your heaviness then you’d do well to pitch up and rock out.
Orange Goblin’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orangegoblinofficial
Damnation Festival’s Website: http://www.damnationfestival.co.uk