Damnation Festival has always striven to be an event which isn’t afraid to book bands for their talent and originality, rather than focusing solely on big names purely to sell tickets. For this reason it has become a metal festival which is truly for the metal fans. The atmosphere year after year is incredible and the festival itself is growing in popularity annually. With an exciting and varied line up on offer once again this November, 2013 was all set to be the best year yet.
After travelling from opposite ends of the country, the cackblabbath.online team met in time for doors opening, keen to get press and photo passes sorted quickly so we didn’t miss a second of the action. Thankfully as we were early, it allowed us time to navigate our way around Leeds Student Union. This year was the first year to see four stages in operation and with some changes to the layout from last year, it did take us a while to gather our bearings.
The organisers had worked hard with the running order this year to ensure as few clashes as possible and in our opinion, they did a mighty good job of this. Even so however, right from the off there was a difference in opinion in the cackblabbath.online team! Rob chose to head off to the Terrorizer Stage to catch Liverpool’s Diamanthian, while I trotted off down the stairs to the Eyesore Merch Stage to watch Dirge. Dirge are a fantastic Doom Metal band from France; who incidentally I had predicted to be one of my highlight’s of the day earlier in the month. Here at cackblabbath.online we are never ones to blow our own trumpets, but in this case… my God was I right. These guys have been playing for nearly twenty years together and their atmospheric style is just incredible. They are a perfect example of a group of guys who just look completely lost in their own music on stage. An excellent start to the day!
Next up were a band I was really excited to see, but unfortunately I made it too late to the Electric Emphetamine Stage and couldn’t get anywhere near to the amazing Iron Witch. Luckily for Rob, he was much more on the ball and anticipating a big crowd, got there early enough to get some fantastic photographs and from his review; which you can read here…I really did miss something special. Determined not to make the same mistake twice, I used this opportunity to go back to the Eyesore Merch Stage to get there early for Tides From Nebula. This instrumental band, composed of four guys from Poland, were recommended to me by a friend and I’m really glad I managed to catch them. They play a type of music which is meant to evoke an emotional reaction from the audience and is beautifully written, if not abstract in its styling. The band are fascinated by space and the cosmos and this really comes across in the music they make. My only issue with these guys is as beautiful as the tracks are, they can appear to merge into one after a while and it becomes difficult to distinguish one from the other. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing though however. They are a band I will definitely be checking out further at home and letting myself chill out too. There was no time for chilling out at this point though, as the time had now come for me to make my way to the press area to meet the one and only King Ov Hell, bassist from God Seed. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by meeting this metal legend; second only in scariness to the vocalist of the band, Gaahl. You can read what happened in the interview here.
Feeling inspired after my interview, I made my way across to the Jagermeister Stage to see Norwegian band, Shining. They had come highly recommended by King Ov Hell and they certainly did not disappoint. It’s not every day you get to see a saxophone solo in the middle of a metal festival but they pulled it off spectacularly. I would go as far as to say that Shining were my highlight of the day so far and were even sitting pretty high up on my performance of the year list. Rob also thought pretty highly of these guys and you can read what he had to say about them in his review. The rest of the bands had an awful lot to live up to and pretty certain I knew of a band capable, we headed over to the Terrorizer Stage to watch Dyscarnate. I had recently missed these guys twice on recent tours and unfortunately for me, it wasn’t third time lucky. Once again struck with the misfortune of arriving too late and being stuck up at the back, I failed to catch sight of the band and could hear more people complaining about not being able to reach the bar than I could hear of the actual music. The lesson I was learning quick here was that Damnation Festival is fast growing in popularity and the bands are all of such a high standard that no one is willing to just hang around in the bar areas, people want to be right up at the stages witnessing the action first hand. I had to up my game a little!
Next band up on the Jagermeister Stage were the second band up to display the talent coming out of Liverpool; crossover thrash titans, SSS (Short for Short Sharp Shock). They brought a huge amount of energy to the main stage and I for one am already looking forward to catching them live again when they play with Gamabomb in January. You can see photos of their set by Rob here.
By this stage our editor Iain had now arrived completing our team and allowing us to cover a lot more ground… in theory. Iain however was so convinced we would love the next band up on the Terrorizer Stage, that he dragged both Rob and myself with him, right to the barrier to see Negura Bunget. Watching these guys set up, it was soon very clear that this was going to be an unusual set, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how incredible it would be. I don’t feel I can do this band the justice they deserve so to see details of their set read Iain’s review – A perspective from a true fan! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch the end of this as it was once again time for me to head to the press area for another interview; This time with Jonas Renkse of Katatonia. It needs to be said what a gentleman Jonas is. Very friendly, very funny and an absolute pleasure to chat to. You can see his interview here where he discusses everything from drinking a bar dry in Finland to future plans for Katatonia.
The time had now come for my second meeting with God Seed today. I was relieved this time though that they were up on the stage and I had several rows of people between myself and King Ov Hell, which made him seem slightly less scary! Scary as they may be there is absolutely no denying they are extremely talented and the reaction from the crowd was incredible. My full review of their set can be seen here. It had been a hectic afternoon so far and the realisation that we hadn’t eaten anything or drank nearly enough was starting to set it, so we allowed ourselves a few minutes out to regroup! Meeting in the bar downstairs we found a quiet corner to discuss the bands so far and plan for the rest of the night. With Katatonia, Cult Of Luna and Carcass still to come… there wasn’t much time to relax! After eating one of the hottest curries my poor mouth has ever had to deal with, we headed back upstairs to catch one of my personal highlights; Katatonia. This really was a special set, the band were playing the entirity of Viva Emptiness in celebration of it’s 10th anniversary and there was a real appreciation in the air from the fans in attendance. This was and remains one of my musical highlights of 2013 and you can see why in my full review.
Damnation Festival 2013 really did surpass all my expectations and an amazing time was had by all of the cackblabbath.online team. Being the only hardcore member of the team I was abandoned by Rob and Iain as Carcass finished up and was given chance to meet up with friends to attack the aftershow party.
With work for the day now over, many more jagerbombs were drank, silly dance moves were executed and most importantly I was there to join in with the beautiful acapella version of Bohemian Rhapsody which even the security guards desperate to go home failed to extinguish until the very last note.
A perfect ending to what had been a brutal day of all things metal!