Damnation Festival 2009 - Leeds, England, 24th October 2009

Event: Damnation Festival 2009
Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 25.10.2009


Damnation Festival 2009 - Leeds, England, 24th October 2009 by Baz Anderson (106)

Leeds University once again was host to Damnation Festival, festival number five. Damnation is the U.K.'s biggest and best indoor metal festival boasting a great line-up each year and drawing a good number of the country's metal hard core, with even a few from foreign lands. The Damnation Festival always has a warm and friendly atmosphere, and this year was no different with the second stage being the place to be for the best part of the day. The doors opened earlier than last year in an attempt to prevent some clashes from the three stages, but due to Negură Bunget's untimely pulling out of the festival, the running order was thrown off course and the bands started an hour later than planned.

The quality of the first bands of the day is testament to the overall quality of bands at the Damnation Festival. Australian black metallers Nazxul were first to take the stage and take us all to hell. Corpsepainted the band gave a visually stimulating show as well as providing the soundtrack to the apocalypse so early in the day. The band have just released their first album in 14 years and made no mistake to punish us all with a set almost entirely from it. Unfortunately the audience reaction wasn't great at such an early and sober hour, but for those watching, Nazxul put on musically, one of the best sets of the day.

For more Nazxul pictures, follow this link.

Psychedelic brutal death metal tyrants Mithras next, and the audience had grown and had become more active in their moshing and stage diving, something that would become quite the norm later on in the evening. The audience quite clearly were enjoying themselves to the spacey guitars, and likewise the band seemed entertained by the audience's antics. New vocalist and bass player Sam Bean seems to be fitting in well, and although not as titanic vocally as Rayner, he brings more energy to the band's live performance. The insane drumming is one of the biggest parts of Mithras's music, but unfortunately these were completely inaudible from the sides and only just passable from the centre of the audience. It was the crushingly heavy "World's Beyond The Veil" material that stood out today to bring Mithras to a whole new audience.

For more Mithras pictures, follow this link.

The main stage had opened by now and the floors were shaking for the Electric Wizard. Watching Electric Wizard is like stepping into a whole different dimension where all your vital organs shake inside of your body and the ground you stand on is not stable. The music is so heavy it is unreal and when blasted out as such incredible volumes as was in this room, time travels backwards and you question every one of your senses. Truly hair-raising how heavy this was. If there is a note that inexplicably causes unexpected pleasure, Electric Wizard found it.

For more Electric Wizard pictures, follow this link.

On the second stage, Mistress might not have been the most well known band, but this was Dave Hunt's fourth Damnation Festival in a row and so we knew something insane was about to happen. This Damnation appearance was to be the last show ever for Mistress, so it was vital to go out in style and the band certainly did that. Musically the band are another death metal band that don't provide anything particularly original, but the whole live show experience was certainly something different as band and audience connected and sparked each other into berserker mindset. Audience went insane, stage dive after stage dive with the occasional shoving help from a particularly intoxicated Dave Hunt. A greying middle-aged man even rode the audience to the amusement and respect of band and audience alike. The music may have been good, but merely provided the soundtrack to the audience's show at this final Mistress blow-out. What a fantastic way to remember the band.

For more Mistress pictures, follow this link.

At a mostly extreme metal festival such as this, it is often a breath of fresh air to have something a little different on offer. Anathema therefore acted almost as an interlude bringing their relatively soft, dark hard rock to the main stage. The audience seemed appreciative, but the main stage is no where near as personal as the second and so this seemed stiff and rigid compared to the previous band and audience antics. Quality music, but even though an interlude was needed, Anathema didn't quite fit in with the rest of the day.

For more Anathema pictures, follow this link.

Back to the second stage and the sophisticated cats of Akercocke were ready to deliver their satanic touch to the day. Akercocke have visited both black and death metal in their history and have blended this with progressive touches to great effect in recent years. These guys must be perfectionists because as far as an Akercocke set can go, it was perfect. The drums especially were crystal clear and performed perfectly to the albums, this was a master class in musicianship. The set came alive with songs from the band's latest output "Antichrist", which sound much better in the live environment away from the crusty production the album has, but the epic "A Skin For Dancing In" kept the blastbeats rolling for unthinkable times delivering the most solid and clean performance of the festival.

For more Akercocke pictures, follow this link.

Unfortunately in this format clashes have to occur. It was full steam ahead to the main stage for the remaining bulk of German thrash gods Destruction's set. In comparison this thrash metal was extremely primitive, but that's just how we like our thrash. The guitars sounded like an unstoppable train constantly chugging through the university building accompanied by the constant rapid pedalling from the drum kit. Songs like "Thrash 'Til Death" and "Nailed To The Cross" are impossible to resist headbanging to, these just are enslavement songs rendering your head and neck insusceptible to any other command you may have. The band were joined on stage by Ol Drake from Evile to send a few songs, and as apposed to a minute's silence, a minute of noise to fallen band mate Mike Alexander. The train finally crashed at the end of "Bestial Invasion" and "Total Desaster" (sic) to put an explosive end to one of the most musically uplifting sets of the festival.

For more Destruction pictures, follow this link.

Time for something a little different over on the second stage with Greek extreme metallers Rotting Christ. These guys mix black and death metal with a fair amount of melody, and do it like no other band adding their own Greek style to their genre of music. The band aren't in a rush to be the fastest band around, but instead take their time to deliver some punchy, bouncy, catchy extreme metal that really hits the spot. Swinging from faster blast-fests to groovier, slower songs the band's spectrum is wide, which allowed the tiring audience to stand back and enjoy the music. Stage diving was a common thing on this stage throughout the festival, but the focus on this set was more on the music as opposed to going insane. Rotting Christ put on a great set of original extreme metal, but lacked a killer punch to make the set a memorable one.

For more Rotting Christ pictures, follow this link.

Now, Lock Up aren't a band many people will be familiar with the name of. They will however be familiar with the people a part of Lock Up. Shane Embury from Napalm Death on bass, Nick Barker from every metal band that ever existed, Tomas Lindberg from At The Gates handling vocals, and Anton Reisenegger from Criminal on guitar. Together they create a grindcore supergroup of epic proportions. Like Mistress earlier, this was supposed to be the last time the group Lock Up will be getting together to create chaos. Shame for everyone else who didn't get to witness this event then. While the headliners of the other two stages were closing the festival for their audiences, it was a lock in with Lock Up on the second stage as the band unleashed probably the best grindcore this room has ever seen. Everyone knows Nick Barker is an extremely talented drummer, but we also know that he is in his element when blasting along at insane speeds. This show enabled the monster from within to treat the audience to the fastest grindcore you'll ever hear. The audience had new life and for the last time turned the room floor into a war zone quite literally of flying people. Shame there probably won't be any more Lock Up in the future, but these guys really did close the festival in a big way. Mightily impressive, but then again what did you expect from a line-up like that?

For more Lock Up pictures, follow this link.

Once again the Damnation Festival demonstrated why it draws such a large audience from the U.K. and even further for some. A great atmosphere, a great venue, great bands. You can't go wrong. This year the second stage was the place to be with so many big extreme metal names, but also the second stage has the best room of the venue with plenty of balconies and stairs for onlookers to observe the madness from. Aside from a few clashes, there is nothing to complain about. The organisation of the Damnation Festival once again display their competency in putting together what will soon be known as one of the biggest days in any U.K. metaller's calendar. Until next year, thanks guys.

Thanks to Graeme for the accreditation.
Written, and photos by Barry Anderson


Written on 25.10.2009 by Member of Staff since 2006.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 67 users
25.10.2009 - 22:17
For me, the best bands in the festival were Firebird, Gates of Slumber, Akercocke, and, to a lesser extent, Rotting Christ. I was so much disappointed by the loud sound from Electric Wizard which ruined my experience of their music. Anathema as well were disappointing with their sound problems and the fact that they didn't fit well in the festival. I think in the main stage, even after Electric Wizard, the sound continued to be overly loud and annoying. I didn't experience that at all in the second stage when I enjoyed Akercocke and Rotting Chist. This stage, as you mentioned, is really good with its balconies and stairs.
Unfortunately, I didn't continue to see Lock Up, which was a shame, given the superstar line-up. To be honest: I didn't know it was like this!! I knew nothing about this band. As I was extremely tired towards the end of the show (the previous day I played my first football game in the 21st century, slept only for two hours, woke up with muscle-ache, took the bus from London to Leeds, attend the festival, then I had to come back to London by bus). It was so much exhausting. But if I knew Lock Up had such a line-up and this was their final show, I would have stayed to check it out, despite not being a huge fan of grind....
Finally, I think I prefer gigs where 3 or 4 bands, with similar styles, play and where everyone is familiar with and loves at least one or two bands of them. So when they play, everyone will be headbanging, moshing, or interacting in whatever way. But for festival like this one, maybe the greatest pleasure is to see a great number of bands in one day and observe their performance rather than going 100% with the music as with normal gigs. This is my impression of my first festival ever...
25.10.2009 - 23:16
Rotting Christ were a massive disappointment for me as the guitars were barely auidble. Shame
26.10.2009 - 03:08
Written by CyGuy6587 on 25.10.2009 at 23:16

Rotting Christ were a massive disappointment for me as the guitars were barely auidble. Shame

I agree a 100% that the guitars in Rotting Christ's set was barely audible. The keyboards and the recorded choirs dominated the sound.
29.10.2009 - 04:06
Yeah, Rotting Christ were quite disappointing. A shame really as the performance was pretty good, but the sound ruined it all. I was surprised however how different the sound in the middle was (no guitars, overpowering synths) compared to the sides (audible guitars, synths not as annoying). The Wizard were also kinda disappointing, also due to the sound which just didn't work out if you stood at the back and was generally not that great on Jägermeister Stage. Mistress were by far the best band of the fest, that was just pure insanity! Brutal show, brutal music, brutal response! They just had it all and it was indeed kinda fun to watch all the stagedivers doing their stunts. Brilliant pics of them, too!
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