Damnation Festival 2012 @ Leeds University

My Dying Bride, Belphegor, Vreid
Leeds University, Leeds, West Yorkshire
3rd November 2012

It was a cold day as hundreds, probably thousands of metal fans clad in leather, denim and band shirts made their way to the Leeds University for Damnation, which boasted some of the best bands on the doom, black and death scenes. Before the doors had officially opened, there was already a might horde gathered throughout the area, each one discussing their plans for the day, familiarising themselves with the venue’s layout and buying merch.

I think that Ravens Creed must have pulled the short straw when I was asked to cover their set as Nico interviewed Witchsorrow – Mainly because I’m a fan of symphonic metal. Never the less Ravens Creed offered me the well needed break from the (what seems to be) repetitive symphonic melodies and orchestrations that forms the base symphonic metal, with the heavier use of guitars and death growls that instead of easing you into this year’s Damnation, threw you into the festival’s main concept… Hard, heavy and face-melting metal! Though unable to catch the name of the first three songs the bands third song, Slaughterhouse opens up with quiet heavy guitars before being met by the frontman’s harsh vocals again.  A couple of songs later and free from a speech from the lead vocalist about how some people in the music industry are complete knobhead’s the band begin to play their next song; Stand Up and be Counted, a strong and terrifying song. While being a great band that put on an entertaining performance, I do wonder if they could have done more with their set if they had been on the Terrorizer or Jagermeister stage. Though only on for 30 minutes, Ravens Creed are towards the top of the bands that I really enjoyed both in terms of both performance and music.
[4.5/5 – DE]

After the interview with Necroskull of UK doomsters Witchsorrow, I navigated my way to the Eyesore Stage where they were due to play. By the time I had got there, I struggled to squeeze into the room – It’s nice to see people supporting bands on the smaller stages at festivals, rather than just going for the bigger names. I could barely see Witchsorrow as they began playing but I heard perfectly the unholy anthems of doom that churned out. Combining heavy, droning riffs with a crisp bass sound and haunting vocals, Witchsorrow conjured up a grim, terrifying sound and performed a truly bewitching set – Though the sunlight coming through the windows did ruin the apocalyptic atmosphere of the music.
[3.5/5 – ND]

I’ll admit Hawk Eyes aren’t exactly what I’d consider Damnation material but they proved to be an excellent opener for the Jagermeister stage as they belted out ferocious wailing riffs and destructive rhythm sections while displaying a unique sound as well. Definitely an impressive live act.
[4/5 – ND]

Wodensthrone were one band that I really wanted to see at Damnation and I feel awful that I missed most of their set due to getting lost. However, when I had found the stage they were playing, I was more than pleased with what I was welcomed by. Heavy pounding guitars and an ambiance of grim were offered up by the British black metallers, along with distinct and snarling vocals and cold keyboard symphonies that added to the final touches to the band’s set. A shame that I could barely see them though due to the crowd size!
[4/5 – ND]

Devil Sold His Soul were one of the bands on the line-up that I had actually heard of, I knew nothing about them or their music but was quite looking forward to seeing them perform live and was gutted when we arrived towards the end of their set. This was something shorted lived and the image of what I had of Devil Soul His Soul was the complete opposite to what they we’re like. I was very surprised to learn I was experiencing a post-metal band from London.  Upon the first listen I thought they were akin the likes of Bring Me The Horizon but getting away from that I do feel that they are a talented (and I have started to listen to them since seeing them at Damnation). I do feel that they have a lot of potential to become as big as the other names in the post-metal scene. Their performance was good though there wasn’t much crowd interaction and I feel that they were average while on stage – Nothing that you could complain about but yet nothing that would blow you away!
[3/5 – DE]

Winterfylleth were another band I’d wanted to catch after hearing a number of great things said about them at Warhorns Festival earlier this. I can see why they’re reading as one of the finest black metal bands on the UK’s underground scene. Aside from packing a full-on assault of vicious riffs and ethereal screams, the band know how to keep a crowd entertained as well when on stage. Unfortunately I hadn’t had the chance to watch the full set due to an interview with Vreid but hopefully, they’ll be appearing again at Damnation in the future.
[4/5 – ND]

I’ve been a casual listener of Vreid for the past few years and have always wanted to know how their live sound would compare to their studio work. Well, I was more than pleased when their terrifyingly brutal live sound was just as good, if not better than their studio work. As the light show corresponded acutely with Vreid’s use of snarling vocals and raw, gritty riffs, especially during the performances of songs such as Speak Goddamnitt and Pitch Black, I found myself mesmerised by their lively performance. Other tracks such as Raped By Light went down a treat with the fans as well due to the sheer heavy assault of barbaric drums and screeching riffs.
[4.5/5 – ND]

Being a fan of Celtic-styled music (be it proper Celtic folk or just Celtic-orientated metal such as Cryptic Age or Celtachor or Cruachan), I was stupidly excited to see Primordial and I can safely say that i was not let down by the Irish metallers. As frontman AA Nemtheanga put it “We are in the eye of the great storm” and he was correct as Primordial unleashed a blasphemous performance of Celtic elements and violent riffs upon an unsuspecting horde of metalheads. The darkened lightshow only added to the unholy sounds that Primordial churned out with unrelenting fury.
[4/5 – ND]

Opening up their Hadean set with Kneel Til Doomsday, Yorkshire doomsters My Dying Bride proceeded to entrance the packed out crowd at Jagermeister Stage with their unique blend of droning riffs and cold vocals, while the violins and keyboards added to the tragic flavourings of the band’s tragic sounds of the music. Aaron looked like some ethereal prophet of doom as he worked his vocal magic. One surprising part about their set was the performance of To Remain Tombless – A great song but it doesn’t strike me as a fan favourite but it still eased its way into Bride’s set like depression easing its way into one’s soul. The performance of Like Gods Of The Sun was a truly mystifying one, while their performance of The Dreadful Hours was more akin to haunting, which was a magnificent way to end their set at Damnation.
[5/5 – ND]

After seeing My Dying Bride, I headed straight to the Terrorizer stage to catch the rest of Belphegor’s set as I’d really wanted to see them but sadly they clashed with MDB. I think I got my hopes up a bit too much as I didn’t think much of Belphegor’s set. As I arrived at the Terrorizer stage, there was a cold and hellish wind blowing into the room as I was greeted by the aggressive stylings of Belphegor, though it wasn’t enough to entice me to stay interested in their performance. While they are a talented band, I found myself bored with their performance. The drums sounded tinny in sections and while blasphemous riffs and vocals were belted out aplenty, the performance just didn’t match up to their studio work (of which I am a huge fan of), and the faux-gruff voice of the frontman in between songs wasn’t quite as comical as the crowd found it to be – If anything, it was irritating. Never the less, the crowd enjoyed them and that’s what matters.
[2.5/5 – ND]

The heavy droning that was Electric Wizard’s set was one that took me by surprise. Having never been familiar with Electric Wizard, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The use of cinematic images in the background intrigued me as Jus Oborn’s vocals echoed hauntingly across the room, carried on the gloomy riffs like a raven on the wind. It was hard to not become entranced with Electric Wizard’s unique brand of doom metal as the dark riffs and hypnotic percussion came out so enchanting. My only regret is not being familiar enough with Electric Wizard’s music to truly appreciate the artistic value of their performance.
[5/5 – ND]

Well, it was one hell of a day and the early train ride to Leeds was well worth it. Damnation is definitely up there in our top five events of 2012, so we’ll gladly be raising a pint to Damnation 2013, which can’t come soon enough!

Nico Davidson & Danielle Eley.

Amateur photography by Danielle Eley.

One Response to “Damnation Festival 2012 @ Leeds University”

  1. […] Damnation Festival 2012 @ Leeds University (valkyrianmusic.com) […]

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