Damnation Festival 2012 Review

We have various reviews, videos and some awesome photos from Wendy to come, but in the meantime here is a brief overview of CackBlabbath’s day at Damnation 2012.

The big summer festivals may be done and dusted, but just because the clocks have gone back and the weather has turned cold that doesn’t mean that there are no more music related shenanigans to be enjoyed.

The Damnation Festival in Leeds Uni has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and once again Gav and the team had assembled a lineup with the proverbial “something for everyone”. The event was split across three stages, and this ensured lots of running about to catch all the bands that we wanted to see…

WeThe Atrocity Exhibit, Damnation 2012 by CackBlabbathll almost all, there are always a couple that you miss šŸ™‚

Because of the way Damnation stagger the stage start times, the first band on in the third stage (this year sponsored by Eyesore Merch) were Raven’s Creed but by the time we got there the venue was rammed, so after listening from afar we headed off to the more spacious second stage to await The Atrocity Exhibit. A nice, gentle introduction to our day at Damnation then….

Not.

It says a lot about the devotion of the Damnation regulars that the whole place was filling up nicely although it was still only 2pm. Just proves that if you run things properly, and get the right bands on, there is still a huge audience for live music…

Other promoters should take note.

Hawkeyes live at Damnation 2012 by CackBlabbathThe first visit to the main stage was next, where local band Hawkeyes were opening proceedings. We’ve watched these guys for a while now and they seem to grow in stature and confidence with every performance. Well today was no exception and it looks like their rise through the ranks of the UK scene is set to continue unabated.

Playing the biggest metal festival in theirĀ  hometown was something special, as frontman Paul put it “We’re a band from Leeds, the best city in the world”

He’s clearly never been to Edinburgh :-p

Devil Sold His Soul were up next, but we could only stick around for half their set before an eagerly awaited date withe the UK’s finest exponent of intelligent, atmospheric black metal Winterfylleth who were, quite literally, shaking the foundations.

Wish I’d remembered my f’kin ear plugs…

Textures Live at Damnation by CackBlabbathRight… another dash back to the main stage for what turned out to be the highlight of the day. Now I’m not the biggest fan of techy-proggy metal, but bloody hell Dutch outfit Textures were something else. This whole genre just always seems so much better live than on record to me, and so it proved with Textures who were tight, melodic and hugely entertaining, and I was so glad that I was down at the barrier for this one.

Well, apart from getting smacked on the head by passing crowdsurfers.

You know when you’re at a festival and see a band and think “no one is going to top that today” ? Well that was the general impression that we were left with by Textures. The bands we’d seen up until then were all pretty good, but Textures were at a whole other level.

Brilliant stuff.

By now the crowds were getting so big that the planned trip to the second stage for Extreme Noise Terror was binned in favour of a trip to the Uni’s Pasty shop for some food (the pasty shop is one of THE best things about Damnation šŸ˜‰ before heading back to the main stage for Irish thrashers Gama Bomb.

Now CackBlabbath’s love for these guys is well documented, and once again they were on top form with their not-too-serious take on traditional thrash metal. Old favourites like Hammer Slammer, We Respect You and OCP went over a storm, while new tracks like the most evil song they’ve ever written (apparently) Backwards Bible promise more-of-the-same great things from the upcoming new album.

Still difficult to believe they’ve been on the go for 10 years… And the quote of the day? Philly’s “Everyone needs more alcohol in their lives….. Except alcoholics, they’ve had enough” šŸ™‚

Primordial Live at Damnation by CackBlabbathAfter seeing them supporting Paradise Lost, a battle through the throng was worth it for a quick blast of Vreid, before heading back to the main stage for the other pre-festival-marked-down-as-do-not-miss set from Primordial.

And you know, when Nemtheanga roars “We are Primordial from the Republic of Ireland, are you fucking ready?… I SAID ARE YOU FUCKING READY ??” the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Yes… WE ARE READY !!!!!

Then they only go and bloody play No Grave Deep Enough. As the big man says “We haven’t got long, so we’re not going to fuck around”, and fuck around they indeed, erm, don’t.

Oh, and are Black Metal bands supposed to have sing-alongs?? Cos most of the people where I was were joining in the massive “Sing, sing, sing to the slaves” chant in As Rome Burns.

There were a lot of Black Metal bands on the bill (of various shades of black) but for power and sheer bloody showmanship none of them could even come close to this. After 21 years Primordial STILL show everyone else how it should be done.

Another quick dash to the second stage was next (keeps you fit, this Damnation lark) to catch a little of Aura Noir’s set. I really liked their proper old-school thrash with more than a hint of Metallica about it, but as it was near impossible to see anything we headed back through to the main stage for My Dying Bride.

Thought I’d give ’em another go…

My Dying Bride at Damnation by CackBlabbath

Now this is a band that, by all reckoning, I should really like and yet (although I have tried) I’ve just never been able to get THAT into them. Now I know it was a great show, and I know that a lot of people idolise them so I assume it must just be me then šŸ™‚ and although I must admit that I did really enjoy their set, it didn’t quite hit the heights of Primordial.

And quite why Electric Wizard were headlining I have no idea. They’re undeniably brilliant at what they do, but I always want the headliners to finish things off on a high like Devin Townsend last year or The Dillinger Escape Plan in 2010. Judging by the people drifting off during their set I’m not the only one.

Pig Destroyer live at Damnation by CackBlabbathStill, there was always Pig Destroyer on the second stage…

Now THAT was a headline performance. Once the band overcame sound issues and epilepsy inducing amounts of strobe lighting they set about showing just exactly why their addition to the bill was one of the most talked about, and their performance one of the most anticipated.

Raw, noisy and in your face, forget Electric Wizard, Pig Destroyer were the perfect way to end the day.

And so it all came to a finish for another year. Once again Damnation has proven to be one of the highlights of the festival calendar, and the only problem now is the real possibility of outgrowing the venue. Mind you there is at least one big stage that they use for Slam Dunk that the organisers could add if needed.

Oh, and they REALLY need to open the balcony in the main room up for press again, what a waste that there was hardly anyone up there (and as I’m getting on a bit, I don’t mind sitting down to watch bands these days).

Sitting in the Piri-Piri “bootleg Nandos” over the road from the venue the CB team (well those of us who weren’t passed out in a hedge somewhere) settled down for the usual long, drawn out debate about who were the highlight of the day but… amazingly… this time around we all managed to agree.

Primordial were awesome but, for sheer smile-on-the-face energy, Textures just nicked it.

Same time next year guys ??