Damnation Festival prides itself on a wide and varied line-up year on year. Not content with wheeling out the same names every November, the festival often throws up some rare and exclusive performances to the UK circuit. You’ve got to be doing something right in order to be asked back to headline for a second time, but that is exactly what Carcass were asked to do. Thankfully they obliged.
With a comeback album as fine as ‘Surgical Steel’, Carcass are certainly doing things right and it’s the intro to this album that the new look band stride on the stage to. Founding members Bill Steer and Jeff Walker are now accompanied by Ben Ash on guitar and Dan Wilding on drums. Jeff manages to get a dig in at both, joking that Dan wasn’t even born when ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ was released and that we’d probably recognise Ben from the past 8 years in the crowd, “Somehow he’s managed to get himself to this side of the barrier”.
Jokes aside, this new look Carcass hasn’t lost anything in the assembly of the new line up. During a day that has kept the traditional festival sound issues to a minimum, Carcass sound ferocious. When the early airing of ‘This Mortal Coil’ kicks in, it’s a wonder we aren’t all floored by the power.
Bodies start to fly over the barrier from the off and continue to do so for the whole set. There’s a real sense of celebration in the air and some of the crowd surfers look as though they are making a comeback of their own; some of the pairs of feet flying over the barrier don’t look as though they’ve left the floor since the Gods of Grind tour. Everyone wants to catch a least some of this set and pretty soon it becomes one in-one out on the door and even the upstairs press/artist area is on its feet.
The set list is a greatest hits package but with plenty of the new stuff included too, which fits comfortably alongside. ‘Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System’ and ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ demonstrate exactly how good the new stuff is, and it doesn’t pale next to the older material at all. Having said that, ‘Genital Grinder’ hits particularly hard and when they finally reel out ‘Corporal Jigsore Quandary’ (it was announced by Jeff on three separate occasions) things really get going.
Bill looks and jumps around like he hasn’t aged the near twenty years since Carcass’s dissolution. Jeff looks closer to his age but hasn’t lost his warm but menacing stage presence, combining his fearsome vocals with his carefree Scouse banter between songs.
Between the main set and the short encore of ‘Keep on Rotting…’ the band bring out an “Old friend”. Long time and founding drummer Ken Owen makes an appearance to blast out a short drum solo despite his obvious mobility restrictions. It’s not the first time they’ve invited him up since the reunion, but it’s still as touching as ever. A warm and well-deserved applause erupts as he gives a goodbye wave.
Carcass easily prove themselves as worthy second time headliners to crown a highly successful year for the band and indeed for Damnation Festival. It also rounds off a great day for Liverpool (apart from the football of course) as a large proportion of the performances today have originated in the north-west. I wonder if they all shared a bus?
It’s the 10th anniversary of Damnation Festival next year but it will have to be pretty special to beat this one. Team CackBlabbath are excited to find out what the Damnation folk have in store!