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Published on September 21st, 2018 | by Gareth Allen


Damnation Festival 2018 Preview

The Damnation Festival, at the University of Leeds Student Union, is a festival very much at the cutting edge of extreme metal, unafraid to embrace the experimental and new, and always with a keen appreciation of the exciting range of metal genres. This year’s line-up is no exception, and on recent years’ experience, will likely sell out well in advance! Here are some of the must see’s within a great line up.

A Forest of Stars from Leeds itself, and fresh from a triumphant set at the Bloodstock Festival, combine black metal with remarkable progressive elements, including eerie violin playing. On the strength of their set at Bloodstock, they are not to be missed. 

The Ocean Collective, with a new album due in November, to follow up the stunning atmospheric and melodic opus ‘Pelagial’, return to the Damnation Festival. They played an incendiary set in 2015, where the band were augmented by cello, and the vocalist unexpectedly jumped from the balcony, safely into the arms of the audience. One of those iconic moments that everyone remembers.

Anaal Nathrakh, with their super charged, grindcore influenced extreme metal, are a live phenomenon, with the accompanying mosh pit being only for the very brave! In vocalist Dave Hunt they have one of the most intensely present and talented vocalists in metal.

Ihsahn, the leader of the legendary Emperor, is a fantastic choice for Damnation, where his combination of black and progressive metal, infused with technical agility and soaring melody, will magically straddle a range of metal genres.

Napalm Death are quite simply legends, their death metal has all the energy, fire and speed of classic punk. They are also a very socially conscious band, not afraid to face down injustice and oppression.  Worthy and exciting headliners.

These are just some of the highlights of a great line up at this year’s Damnation Festival. Just as a reminder of how good last year’s festival was, and how high each successive Damnation Festival seems to set the musical bar higher, here are some of 2017’s highlights, to get you in the right mood for a fabulous day of extreme metal to look forward too in November.

Looking back to Damnation 2017

Pallbearer, on the Jagermeister stage, are able to take doom metal to some very melodic places. Opening number ‘Worlds Apart’ illustrates perfectly their gift for combining pulverising heaviness with anthemic vocals and guitar work. It’s impossible to stay still, as their music literally engulfs the audience.

Leprous from Norway, on the Eyesore Stage, provided a mesmerising progressive metal set, with soaring vocals and signature jazz rhythms. On a song like ‘The Flood’ Einar Solberg’s vocals simply soar, and the band create wondrous waves of dynamic and heartfelt sound. A beautiful quiet section mid-song, showcases Einar’s expressive wordless vocal, supported by lightly floating ethereal keyboards. Leprous were formerly the live band accompanying Ihsahn, and it’s no wonder!

The extraordinary duo of Nordic Giants, on the Eyesore stage, combine the most compelling of post-rock musical soundscapes, played on keyboards and drums, and sometimes bowed guitar, with fully worked up cinematic vignettes, that are projected onto on-stage screens. They are dressed in bird like costumes, and with intriguing voice overs, have an air of mystery that is very intriguing. On their final song they leave the stage to a reverberating loop of sound, and striking projected images, that the audience stay for, and seem simply spellbound by. The Nordic Giants are completely unique and put on the highlight performance of the Festival.

What can one say about death metal super group Bloodbath, who headline the festival on the Jagermeister stage.  Bringing together musicians from Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost, they play death metal for the pure love of the genre. The musicianship is incredible, and on a song like ‘Mental Abortion’, there is an intensity of impossibly fast playing, punctuated by crushing breakdowns. In Nick Holms they have of course a great classical death metal vocalist, with a cheeky sense of humour, as he announces in a west Yorkshire accent, “We are Bloodbath, from Stockholm Sweden”.

About the Author

A committed metal head with a love of jazz, soul, and folk. Living in Central Scotland and attending gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with it's really amazing venues. My iconic moment... being invited on stage at the Glasgow Garage, by DevilDriver's Dez Fafara!

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