It’s still lunchtime as Damnation Festival 2013 kicks off. A slot on the fourth and smallest stage at a time when you can still just about taste your breakfast doesn’t look all that attractive. That’s before you’ve attempted to negotiate the labyrinth of tunnels that make up Leeds University to find the distant ‘Mine’ bar where all of today’s doom action will be taking place.
The ‘Mine’ is quite a fitting setting for the action really. It’s quite dark and gloomy, with minimal lighting but great views from the floor and the raised area to one side. Let’s hope this is a permanent fixture for Damnation Festivals to come.
So, yeah it’s 13:15 pm on the fourth stage and as Iron Witch’s intro tape plays, the venue quickly swells to near capacity. No slow start to this festival then. The beauty of Damnation is that you get to see some quite hard-to-find bands and as well as Iron Witch, this stage will also play host to Slabdragger, Serpent Venom and Conan, among others through the day. The doom and sludge fanatics aren’t going to miss a second of it!
When the long intro tape finally relents Leeds is treated to some fine Liverpudlian sludge. They are one of many Scouse bands on the menu today, but Iron Witch may just be the heaviest of the lot.
The stage is a little cramped for a five-piece band, so there’s not much mobility on display but the band doesn’t hesitate in delivering some huge blasts of the heavy stuff. The Eyehategod influence is clear to see in what Iron Witch do, and frontman Chris blurts out some angst-ridden vocals channelled from some of Mike Williams’ best work. Rick plays shirtless and in a trucker cap achieving a proper sludgelord look, fitting of a Louisiana dive bar.
Plenty of rumbling low end, screeching feedback and bile covered lyrics all add up to a great set. We’re given a taster of the upcoming split release with The Atrocity Exhibit as they tear through ‘Her Cheating Heart’ which sounds nothing short of terrifying and gets the long hair in the first few rows hair windmilling.
It’s awesome stuff all round and the half hour slot goes by in a flash. There were plenty of people there to catch the opening band on the Electric Amphetamine stage and that didn’t change all day. Iron Witch certainly set the standard high.