It’s that time of year again where the end of the festival season is almost upon us save for one. Scores of burly metallers descend upon Leeds for a day of metal, booze and debauchery. The venue, well that would be Leeds student union. A labyrinth of rooms, and even as the dust settles I’m sure there will still be lost Cannibal Corpse fans looking for the bar.
Either way, I can’t really move today. But I don’t have a hangover which is in some ways a blessing. You know all the usual, arrive. Obtain relevant passes etc. So we’ll talk about bands shall we? Well first up would be an interview with dutch post rockers Atlantis before heading on down to the Eyesore stage to check out Bast. A band that I’ve missed on their earlier jaunts up North. Today nothing would stop me, decent crowd position obtained and out come Bast to a packed out room, not bad at all for the first band of the day. Their combination of doom, sludge and shoegaze makes for an astounding combination of sounds. Rounded off nicely by a piercing but well executed screams an all-powerful Bast set was over, but well worth the wait.(7)
The next band on my hitlist were to be post rockers Atlantis however due to a packed out room this wasn’t to be, however from what I did hear it sounded marvellous. Back on down to the Eyesore stage for Spanish post rockers Obsidian Kingdom, a band I placed on my NEED TO SEE list for today. Drawing entirely from their newly reissued début album Mantiis, their sound was powerful and dynamic. Tracks such as Last Of The Light and Genteel To Mention were delivered flawlessly. Unfortunately it felt at times like the keys were lost in the mix which distracts from how brilliant this band are but all in all a solid and intriguing performance by a band I hope to see again in the not too distant future.(8)
A mad dash down to the press room to interview Falloch whom due to their PR never materialised, because of this I missed another of the bands I was excited to see in Black Moth, only making it to the PHD stage in time for the last half of their last track which was a shame. Back down into the depths of the venue once more to check out Falloch. I personally adore this band, and despite me standing at the back of the room., their sound was sublime and well delivered, the vocals soulful and melodic. (7)
On my way to an interview with Black Moth I found myself drawn into the Terrorizer stage for the very first time for Winterfylleth, catching only their first song which happened to be the title track from their latest album The Divination Of Antiquity which sounded heavy as fuck. A wall of British black metal that sounded unrelentingly barbaric. I wish I could have stayed for more but alas.
This meant it was time for Sólstafir. Anyone who saw me prior to their performance saw an excited wreck of a man. From the very second these guys took to the stage to the very second they left it I was entranced. There are those legendary performances where every single person in the crowd knows they’re watching something special and Sólstafir at Damnation 2014 was one of these moments. A cascade of various emotions has led to me renaming the band Sólstafeels. These are a band everyone needs to experience at least once in their lives and a band that should be booked on every festival available for the whole of 2015. TAKE NOTE FFS! (10!)
I walked out of the PHD stage and out to the terrace still entranced by Sólstafir. I had to take a minute to pull myself back together before heading to another interview that failed to show, which ultimately meant I’d miss A Forest Of Stars which was another real shame. But it did give me time to go obtain food before heading back to the PHD stage to check out Monarch! French drone metal that could if played loud enough destroy worlds. I despise the term female fronted, it’s a fucking ridiculous term. The fact of the matter is that Monarch’s frontwoman Emilie has one of the most violent vocals I’ve ever heard. This leviathan of noise vibrates every cell in the body and it is hard not be completely bowled over by the pure force this band project.(9)
Next up it would be Saint Vitus performing a special set for their 35th anniversary, well it would have been were I able to get into the Jagermeister stage. So back to the press area I find myself singing along to Disney songs and 80’s classics with another of the MetalMouth.net team, Harrison White. Along with that came a supreme piano rendition of Slayer’s Raining Blood, such ballads. Much wow.
One more interview was to happen, but once again didn’t, same PR company. So off I wandered to check out Ahab who ultimately were my last band of the night. Stupid trains and their stupid timetables. Ahab happened to be the only band on the bill that I didn’t check out prior to the festival however everyone I’d spoken to had them down as ones to watch and due to my complete disdain for Cannibal Corpse it seemed like a logical choice. Nautical based doom metal excellence is what I was given. Their low and slow shanties are fascinating to experience and with the sound being on point every element these guys have mastered is projected forth. I am still taking these guys in after their performance but holy fuck it was brilliant! These are yet another band I can’t wait to see again!(9).
So, time to go. Walking through the hordes of drunken festival goers mindlessly ambling towards the Jager Stage to check out Bolt Thrower was surreal and somewhat like walking through a scene from Dawn of the Dead. By this point it’s pretty ‘fragrant’ in the crowds and feeling like the only sober person in a number of 3000 plus is somewhat strange.
A wander back through Leeds isn’t much better, a vast number of drunken students out for Saturday night festivities slowed down a short walk. On a train home with people piled on people it’s time for food and sleep.
Damnation Festival, you’ve broken me again! Here’s to 2015!