Damnation Festival 2011 - Leeds, England, 5th November 2011

Event: Damnation Festival 2011
Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 11.11.2011

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Damnation Festival 2011 - Leeds, England, 5th November 2011 by Baz Anderson (96)
The Damnation festival has been around for a gathering number of years now, and continues to establish itself as one of Europe's major events that emphasises more of a focus on off-kilter, eclectic bands that push at the boundaries. The previous year's festival had worryingly and annoyingly been downsized from the usual stages to smaller ones, but 2011 saw the festival back to its original glory with the main room back in use. The festival is an all-day event at the university in Leeds, kicking off at one in the afternoon. Even before the doors had opened a vast queue had emerged, a promising sign that this year would be one of Damnation's best.





Upon the doors opening, the flock of black-clothed people aimlessly wandered the at-first confusing corridors in the hope of finding their bearings. Like moths to a flame we were drawn to the third stage where Humanfly, the first band of the festival got the proceedings under way. The band provided a morbid, doomy, sludgy opening while the audience attempted to adjust themselves from the "real world" mindset to the "metal festival" mindset.

Opening the second stage was supposed to be the Scottish brutal death metallers Cerebral Bore, but things were about to knock the running order out of synch for the rest of the day. About twenty minutes late onto the stage, some had already given up and migrated elsewhere. The band's vocalist apparently had a similar idea as she was absent, leaving the remaining three-piece to perform a "once in a lifetime" instrumental three-song set of brutal death metal. Enjoyable as it was, the main stage was calling.

Also late to open the main stage, but thankfully with their band in-tact, an enthusiastic Xerath emerged. The band that "doesn't play riffs" gave the audience a crushing experience in the form of the new modern phenomena of trying to sound like a more accessible version of Meshuggah. Definitely strange to attempt to digest initially, but as the set carried on, the sounds became more and more enjoyable to a point where the abrasive vocals aside, this was an extremely cool set to behold.


Xerath


Over on the second stage, the vast audience were about to lose their minds to something quite spectacular. Norway's Shining are the perfect example of the bands Damnation like to showcase. Such original music, these guys drew in their audience with a crazy, avant-garde mixture of jazz and metal. Boundaries no longer exist thanks to this band, who over the powerful sound system not only blew everyone's mind, but destroyed their concept of music. The Damnation audience loved it.


Shining


At this relatively early time, the main stage had one of the most popular bands of the festival Turisas, who as always inspired various red and black faces around the campus. A large audience grew to watch the Finnish guys play through one of their sets, which after so many years finally has some new material in the form of songs from their new album. Nothing original, nothing inspiring, but quite an entertaining watch nevertheless.


Turisas


The last time Dragged Into Sunlight played here was at the UK Deasthfest a couple of years ago on the smallest stage. Now on the second stage, this British black metal/doom combination had a surprisingly massive audience to watch them keep to their tradition of playing with their backs to the audience. Doomy, yet shockingly and erratically violent, the band have certainly grown vastly in the last couple of years.


Dragged Into Sunlight


There was nothing moody, deep or insightful on the main stage next, as Evile greeted the Damnation audience and kicked off with the title track of their latest album. Evile get around a lot, but in the last five years they have been around, they haven't sounded as good as they did kicking off this show tonight. With a slight Destruction influence creeping its way in there, these young guys just get better.


Evile


Despite being all the way from Taiwan, Chthonic have been over to the UK a fair number of times. This didn't stop the band from telling us they were so humbled to be a part of the festival, as they delivered a set of eastern-influenced melodic black metal. All eyes might have been on bass player Doris, but the band's unique brand of metal didn't quite manage to hit the spot as it sat somewhere between being extreme and being melodic, without excelling at being either. Still, the set was closed with the brilliant "Takao" from the latest album, leaving the audience with a good after-taste.


Chthonic


As was the recurring theme, the main stage would provide something completely different. Swedes Grand Magus had a large audience in the main room to hear their slightly Viking-influenced traditional heavy metal. A solid set was delivered as they usually do, but among the rest of the highly-original bands of the festival, this set turned out to be bland and forgettable in comparison.


Grand Magus


Second to last band on the main stage, Godflesh, comprised of two men and a laptop absolutely destroyed the room. Unlike anything the festival had seen before, the group used the speaker system in the main hall to devastating effect. The loudest and bassiest set of the festival, Godflesh invited the audience into their heavily industrial, trance-inducing slumber. Floor, walls, the entire room was violently vibrating in submission of this aural onslaught. For the group's hour on stage the audience stood enslaved to the massive wall of sound before them, it was a shame then, when time was up and reality returned to the room.


Godflesh


The Devin Townsend show began as soon as the last band finished their set. Not with Devin on the stage, but with his pre-recorded Ziltoid radio station entertaining the waiting audience with various pop songs and amusing pictures on the projection at the back of the stage. The main hall was rightfully at its fullest as Devin took the stage to begin his set. Aside from the out-of-place "Heaven Send", the set did not disappoint, even with its lean towards the newer albums. The last third especially was quite remarkable with the fantastic "Juular" followed up by a Ziltoid duo of "Colour Your World" and "The Greys", finishing with the wonderful "Deep Peace". A real party atmosphere broke out with his encore of the popular song "Vampira", but even with a ninety-minute set, it seemed to fly by. Ever the entertainer, Devin ploughed through and demolished all the clichés to close of one of the best Damnation festivals there have been.


Devin Townsend


Aside from the late starts on the first and second stages, the festival really pulled itself together and blew the previous year away completely. The right stages, the right bands, Damnation once again solidifies itself as one of the countries must-go-to events of the year. Superb, we'll see you next year.


Devin Townsend


Setlist: Truth / Om / ZTO / By Your Command / Bad Devil / Heaven Send / Supercrush / Stand / Juular / Colour Your World / The Greys / Deep Peace / Vampira

Additional images can be found here.

Thanks to Becky at Damnation for the accreditation.
Written by Barry Anderson.
Photos by Barry Anderson.



 



Written on 11.11.2011 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More articles by Baz Anderson ››




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Kingface - 13.11.2011 at 18:48  
Sounds like it was a great event! Would love to go to one of these one day.
Troy Killjoy - 13.11.2011 at 22:54  
Turisas and Evile seem very out of place here. All the bands you talk about offer something original and seem to, as you said, push the boundaries. How a generic "epic" folk metal band and a thrash revivalist outfit make the cut I'll never know. Promotion most likely. Labels are good for pimping bands they want to hype.
Bad English - 13.11.2011 at 23:32  
Quote:
About twenty minutes late onto the stage, some had already given up and migrated elsewhere. The band's vocalist apparently had a similar idea as she was absent, leaving the remaining


Maybe she had her periods and she need to go ....
Iron Nostarion - 15.11.2011 at 06:10  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 13.11.2011 at 22:54

Turisas and Evile seem very out of place here. All the bands you talk about offer something original and seem to, as you said, push the boundaries. How a generic "epic" folk metal band and a thrash revivalist outfit make the cut I'll never know. Promotion most likely. Labels are good for pimping bands they want to hype.


I very much agree with this. All of the bands in this festival are great live and push some boundaries indeed, yet those two are the most generic one can find. I mean, thrash can easily differ from band to band (of all the Big 4, Testament, Overkill, Exodus and The Teutonic Trio one can notice a difference and uniqueness between each) but this is the most generic thrash band one can find on Earth. I was stunned when I saw Evile.

I wish I was there anyway, this has to be one of the most enthusiastic concert reviews I've ever read.

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