Damnation Festival has always been an excellent place to discover new bands; being a festival which caters to a variety of metal types and one that isn’t afraid to book lesser known artists, you always find yourself leaving with a list of new music to listen to. 2013’s offering had been no different, but sometimes it is nice when a familiar band appears on the line-up and you know exactly what you are going to get from them. This was exactly the case when it came to the penultimate band on the main stage, Swedish legends Katatonia.
Katatonia are currently on tour with Paradise Lost, but added the Damnation date to their schedule in order to treat their fans to a show which consists of playing arguably their best album, ‘Viva Emptiness’, in its entirety. 2013 marks ten years since the album’s original release date and what better way to celebrate this than to make their debut at Damnation Festival?
‘Viva Emptiness’ may not be the most cheerful of albums, but with its clear melodic doom metal influences, it is perfect listening for the Damnation Festival audience. Within the first few moments of Katatonia being on stage, one thing that instantly stands out about them, is the beautiful quality to front man Jonas Renkse’s vocals. His now clean vocal style contrasts greatly to the band’s earliest albums, but as proved in Leeds, he is able to perfectly execute this in a live environment and it complements their atmospheric sound perfectly.
The band have now had a stable line-up for several years and this really shows in the tightness across the songs. They chose to open with ‘Inside The City Of Glass’, which is the final track on the album, and then work backwards. This turned out to be a nice twist to an album which many fans will know so well. The fantastic thing about playing an album in full for a band like Katatonia, is you can look around the crowd and see literally hundreds of fans in their element; not missing a word and following every second of every song. Many of the songs from ‘Viva Emptiness’ wouldn’t make it onto a regular set list considering the bands huge back catalogue, so this was a real treat to witness.
Although the set didn’t show the variety of Katatonia’s work for any new-comers to the band, it was one which served as a thank you to the people who have supported these guys across the last two decades and the atmosphere and energy in the venue told you they appreciated it. As flawless as the set was however, the highlight of the band’s time on stage for us actually came with Jonas’s closing words to his fans; “Thank you all for watching us…Now bugger off and see our friends Cult of Luna”. For a man who had been so polite and so gracious the entire time he was on stage, we were highly amused by this. So much so, it seemed rude to ignore his request…So we did exactly as he’d said!