Having a stellar festival ‘post festival’ season is an absolute god send to the heavy metal community. Just when it seems those landmark festivals of the summer are long gone, and some are even gearing up for next years proceedings, the beautiful beast that is Damnation Festival rears its tempting head, reminding metal heads that 2014’s party is most definitely not over yet.
2014 is a very special year for Damnation as it marks the festival’s ten year anniversary and, with this years downright remarkable line up, the festival’s organisers have indeed pulled out all the stops to make this years festival the best yet. As midday approaches on Saturday 1st November and the litter from last night’s Halloween carnage is still scattered across the streets of Leeds, hordes of battle jacketed, eager metal heads are already packed outside the doors of Leeds University union, desperate to get inside and let the days heaviness begin.
Kick starting the brutality over on the Terrorizer Stage today are Bristolian brutal death five piece Amputated. With the success of this years third full length Amputated release, Dissect, Molest Ingest, Amputated have no problem practically filling the Terrorizer stage, an impressive feat for the first band of the day. The brutal brothers do not disappoint their ever increasing crowd either, as they play a water tight set full of their most slamming numbers such as Slam Pig, The Local Flavour and Repugnant Genial Deformity. Vocalist Mark Gleed’s confident banter with the audience and Amputated’s powerful, intense brand of groove laden death metal make their performance this afternoon a highly entertaining one.
Jumping forward a few hours now and the eagerly anticipated Northampton lads Raging Speedhorn bring their unique brand of metal and hardcore to the Jagermeister stage this evening. Despite the Jagermeister stage being noticeably bigger than the Terrorizer stage, Raging Speedhorn have no problem making the giant, assembly hall of a venue shrink to the size of a broom cupboard as their sheer heaviness and cult status draws in a huge crowd. With their signature, menacing stage presence and vocalists John Loughlin’s and Frank Regan’s idiosyncratic styles complimenting each other perfectly, Raging Speedhorn’s performance is packed full of raw, unparalleled aggression and relentless energy,making them a strong contender for band of the day so far.
Next up on the Jagermeister stage are the mighty Orange Goblin, a band who have gone from strength to strength in their impressive career. Tonight’s performance is one hundred per cent classic Goblin, monstrous, juggernaut riffs, no holds barred party metal and wholesome, good old fashioned rock’n’roll that is guaranteed to invigorate even the most kvlt and stationary of audience members. Orange Goblin’s easily accessible brand of noise is loved by a wide variety of metal fans, as is evident by tonight’s expansive crowd. As gigantic front man Ben Ward stomps about the stage bringing the party to Damnation, it is evident that Orange Goblin have well and truly (and deservedly too) solidified their place among the UK metal elite.
Returning now to the death metal delights of the Terrorizer Stage and it’s Birmingham’s most face melting duo Anaal Nathrakh‘s turn to entertain the audience. The noticeably small Terrorizer stage is absolutely rammed, twenty one people squished onto a single small stair case to glimpse Anaal Nathrakh‘s brilliance rammed to be precise and the pungent stenches of sweat and beer are wafting about. Anaal Nathrakh’s intense set is an absolute tour de force of extremity. Blasting through classics such as Forging Towards the Sunset and Between the Shit and Piss We Are Born, Dave Hunt manages to command some impressive mosh pits and a huge wall of death from the now battered and bruised crowd.
Taking things down a relaxing couple of notches now over on the Jagermeister stage are Los Angeles doom titans Saint Vitus. Making the vital organs of everyone in the audience vibrate, with their splendid, 1986 release Born Too Late being played in it’s entirety. Saint Vitus take tonight’s proceedings to a whole new groovy level as Wino’s haunting vocals grab the bollocks of those stood right at the back of the hall. Saint Vitus’ legendary status is prominent tonight as the foursome summon the attention of everyone in the room with Dave Chandlers infectious riffs and Mark Adams and Henry Vasquez’s beautifully sinister grooves.
Justifiably headlining the Terrorizer stage, Cannibal Corpse draw in a staggering crowd. Unfortunately, the crowd is too big for the Terrorizer stage as fans are packed into the smallest of spaces in order to get a glimpse of Cannibal’s set. Opening with The Bleeding’s classic Staring Through They Eyes of The Dead, Cannibal Corpse whip out a perfectly crafted set consisting of classic material such as I Cum Blood and A Skull Full of Maggots right through to more contemporary Cannibal hits Evisceration Plague and Kill or Become. The band play an entirely faultless set and Corpsegrinder’s provocative and hilarious banter keeps the audience more than adequately entertained between tracks. As per usual, Cannibal are the death metal band that can literally do no wrong.
Despite being the main headliners of the day, Bolt Thrower feel like somewhat of an anti climax after Cannibal Corpse’s incredible performance. Bolt Thrower are undoubtedly a talented and legendary band, however, there is an argument that their headliner status has been earned through their elusiveness and longevity as band instead of the quality of their music. Bolt Thrower are remarkable and tonight they have put on an enjoyable show and created quite the electric atmosphere at the Jagermeister stage, but they do lack the certain enigmatic quality that differentiates between a talented band and a headliner band.
Damnation 2014 has been a cracking festival with every band obviously performing to the best of their ability. However, as the festival is rapidly growing in popularity, a change of venue urgently needs considering to avoid festival goers having to miss bands. Being packed into rooms in a sardine-esque fashion and having to shuffle amongst the horde from stage to stage can get quite tiresome after a while.
Damnation is ultimately a fantastic festival and well worth attending,it just needs a bigger space for it’s deservedly developing fan base.
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