Damnation Festival 2008 - Leeds, England, 22nd November 2008
|Event:||Damnation Festival 2008|
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
Damnation Festival 2008 - Leeds, England, 22nd November 2008 by Baz Anderson (45)
Damnation Festival has had a history full of success, and the fourth, and biggest edition yet selling out here in 2008 is testament to the festival's rise to popularity in the metal underground of England. First two years in Manchester, last year at the Leeds Metropolitan University and this year at the bigger University of Leeds, the festival has grown and grown to sell out 3,500 tickets to not just British people, but people visiting from around the world - for just one unadulterated night of extreme music.
This year with three stages and the highest quality line-up the festival has ever seen, Damnation is most definitely one of the highlights of the metal year for U.K. residents. This year saw the mighty Carcass' live return and exclusive U.K. show, the first Sigh show in this country for thirteen long years, and also Onslaught recording a new live album among other things. The huge University of Leeds student union building offered three high quality stages, all of nice size and many places to stand to view the bands. Along with the three stages, two rooms of merchandise set up shop, main sponsor Jägermeister gave away free things, and a hog roast was set up outside to complete the warm feelings of being at a friend's house party, just with a couple of thousand more people too. Indeed the festival had everything.
The bands started on time as scheduled, and first on the Jägermeister stage were Welsh trio Taint. These guys had the job of opening to a room still being filled, as people were still queuing to get in outside. Still, a surprising amount of people gathered into the main room and soon the audience was of healthy size. These guys play a strange form of metal, Mastodon-ish heavy stoner metal with lots of progressive influence and it sounded awesome over the sound system. Unfortunately there were some problems with the left tower of speakers, and this problem continued throughout most of night, but this didn't spoil anything. The band were as heavy as hell and really played the part of a professional, quality band. If this kind of music tickles your taste buds, Taint are absolutely a band to watch out for.
Before taking the stage, the announcer warmed the, by now, vast audience up in the main room by starting chants of "Damnation! Damnation!..." and "Onslaught! Onslaught!..."so by the time the band entered the stage the crowd were ready to explode. Maybe Onslaught haven't had the credit, or as much hype when reformed as they deserve, but their live shows deliver a much more intense experience than their studio CDs ever do. The band explored mostly the newest album, but also took a fond look back on the band's first two albums as well, with songs such as "The Force" and closing with the classic "Onslaught (Power From Hell)". The audience were in mighty fine voice this evening and responded to the band very well for what is sure to make for a great live CD. Unfortunately again, the left tower of speakers played up a little, but still again, nothing too serious or anything that can't be sorted for the CD. Make sure you get your hands on it when it does come out!
The Damnation Festival has a majority of British bands on the line-up, majority this year meaning pretty much every band apart from this one. These were not British, far from being so, these guys and gal are from the land of the rising sun, and had not graced these shores in thirteen Sigh-less years. Setting up wasn't the smoothest of processes, the keyboard stand would not stand up properly and so a box was used instead, and also while sound-checking a big power-threatening bang over the sound system sounded worse than it was. But eventually all systems were online and the show started. Sigh are many things, but one of those things is not one-dimensional. Unlike Onslaught before, Sigh brought a largely diverse set with both old and new songs ranging in styles as they do. From slower, heavier almost doomish sounding riffs one minute to haunting black metal jives the next. A few songs from the latest album found the light of day, and also older songs such as "Bring Back The Dead" came out of the woodwork, but unfortunately the haunting sound Sigh can create in the studio is not transmitted entirely into the live environment. The band's latest edition to the ranks Dr Mikannibal is one of the main, if not the main focal attraction to Sigh's live show, but as well as visually, she musically brings another element to the band. Before the last song, Mirai stated that black metal was not invented in Norway, but right here in the U.K. before the band plunged into an impressive and extreme rendition of Venom's "Black Metal", which actually sounded twice as convincing as Venom's own performance of the song. To finish off, Dr Mikannibal lit three red candles alight, poured the red wax down her and breathed fire to finish what was definitely Damnation's most diverse and innovative show of the night.
A wander over to the Terrorizer stage saw the back end of a blistering Benediction show. The band once again had the Union Jack draped over some speakers and were playing the "proud to be British and death metal" card to an enthusiastic audience. One thing is for sure, and that is playing inside as apposed to at a festival, and a setlist with the inclusion of fresh new songs from the new album makes for an all round better band. Benediction may have never sounded as good as they did here, and the audience recognised this as crazy mosh pits and other things of the kind broke out during every song. Indeed, tonight the band commanded the audience and with the blistering new album just out, the future looks bright, the future looks Benediction.
Either you love Napalm Death, or you look disapprovingly at someone as they tell you they are going to see them. It just so happened that the Terrorizer room was packed full, to the point of sardine-ism, with the first kind of those people. Once again Barney leapt onto the stage and started screaming down the microphone and the less familiar audience members looked on with an amused state of ambivalence, but this is nothing new if Napalm Death have been a part of your gig diet the past years. The first third of the set was typical, unchanged Napalm Death set until the band broke out a little treat from "From Enslavement To Obliteration", and then a couple of brand new songs from the upcoming, "feisty little beast" of an album to be released the beginning of next year. A Napalm Death set is always a celebration of the blastbeat of the most relentless kind, and this set was no different. Like Benediction, the band are suited much better to the inside, and during very song the audience down at the front would turn slightly insane. The good thing about Napalm Death is that their songs have meanings, and Barney always makes sure to let the audience know what the next song is about, this builds a great connection between the band and bloodthirsty mob below. Fantastic set, the satisfying amount of blastbeats made for a heart stopping show. Always top form, Napalm Death keep on getting better and better.
This is what everyone had been waiting for; the exclusive U.K. show of the reformed legends Carcass. It seemed as though nearly all of the 3,500 people at the festival had tried to squeeze into the originally quite spacious room, but rightly so. For the majority of people this was a dream come true, finally getting to see Carcass play live. Jeff admitted on stage it felt very good to be out and playing the old Carcass stuff again, he also stated that they might just be back in the future also. Tasty stuff, seeing as this show at Damnation was originally supposed to be the last Carcass show ever. Still, onto the show, and it really is amazing how many classic songs Carcass have under their belts, from "Inpropagation" to "Carnal Forge" and "Heartwork", and many more, the band have probably never sounded better than right here in this room. Open air festivals take away the feeling and connection the band have with the audience, and so here inside, in their own country with all their friends and some family present the band were free to joke around in between songs. It felt like a stand-up comedy show at times, everyone in the room felt united and devoted to Carcass for this hour and a quarter set. The band had an amazing ability to write dreadfully catchy riffs, put this with Jeff's simple but effective vocal and explosive blastbeats from the drums, and the end product is something of a beast, especially live. The sound quality was of the best these ears have ever heard, everything came together to make a stunningly impressive show. Original drummer Ken Owen had the biggest chant of the night as he took to the drum kit one more time and showed off a few of his blastbeats. The band played a wide variety of songs ranging from a song from the very first demo, to "Keep On Rotting In The Free World" from their swansong and everything grindcore from the glory days to everything melodic death from the more recent of their days. Everything sounded right and fit together, and as Jeff said on stage it just goes to show the support Carcass have around the world as they sold out dates all over the globe with no label support or major promotion. The band really put on one of the most satisfying and fulfilling shows you could have imagined seeing, these people no longer have to dream about seeing Carcass live, because this was just above and beyond.
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Incarnate Solvent Abuse
No Love Lost
Edge Of Darkness
This Mortal Coil
Reek Of Putrefaction
Rotten To The Gore
Exhume To Consume
This year the Damnation Festival did something truly spectacular; they brought together under one roof some of the best bands Britain has put out over the year. Carcass, Cathedral, Napalm Death, as well as My Dying Bride and Benediction, this really was a celebration of extreme music from the U.K. that no one will forget in a hurry. The three stages were running at the same time and so the most common criticism wafting around this year was the amount of clashes people had to agonise over, especially both Carcass and Cathedral being on at the same time, and also Napalm Death and My Dying Bride had to battle for people as they were on stage at the same time. Still, Damnation Festival is still in its ascension, and rightly so. The atmosphere of the night was remarkable, everything was provided, the bands took to the stage at the correct times, everything ran so smoothly. It has been a very long time indeed since yours truly has left an event feeling so satisfied and having enjoyed the whole experience so much. Damnation is not a night to be missed, get yourself there next year and see just what this incredible event has to offer. Genuinely a top quality night of the highest order.
Many thanks to go Graeme Johnston for the accreditation and making this possible.
Written, and photos by Barry Anderson
||Written on 24.11.2008 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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