Damnation Festival 2012 - Leeds, England, 3rd November 2012

Event: Damnation Festival 2012
Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 09.11.2012


Damnation Festival 2012 - Leeds, England, 3rd November 2012 by Baz Anderson (73)

The eighth edition of the now-compulsory Damnation Festival was shaping up to be another classic affair at its home in the University of Leeds, with a characteristically eclectic selection of music from the extreme to the unconventional.

Always with a compelling line-up of bands and modestly priced tickets, the Damnation Festival has become a must-do event of the UK, which sees people from each corner of the country descend upon the bustling city of Leeds.

As always the University venue held three stages in the usual places; the main stage is a comfortable, spacious hall with a thundering sound system. London-based metalcore band with a twist Devil Sold His Soul were one of the first bands to put the stage to good use as the audience gradually grew as the day progressed. The energetic but forgettable performance overlapped the start of the next set on the second stage, as was common throughout the day.

Devil Sold His Soul

So towards the second stage. The room has a few different levels to view the stage from with a bar at one side, but even this early on in the day Winterfylleth had absolutely packed the room to bursting point. The black metal heathens put on a short but enjoyable set to the uncomfortably packed room. Not as uncomfortable as the third stage however, which remains a totally impossible room to, at times, even get into.


Back to the main stage for the rather quirky Dutch group Textures as the audience continued to grow. There's something quite unfathomable and different about this band that made their performance somewhat captivating, but the festival's tight schedule soon had people moving over to the second stage once again for the next band.


British crusty, punky, grindcore rabble Extreme Noise Terror drew an inquisitive audience as their wall of sonic terror shook through the room. The seven-man band provided an energetic, attitude-infused grind show that you could have imagined hearing twenty years ago. With Dean Jones as only original member, the group aren't exactly known for being too active these days, but nonetheless they put on a good show.

Extreme Noise Terror

Irish chaps Gama Bomb were up on the main stage next with their classic thrash metal sound of the eighties. Pure, simple, good fun. Gama Bomb have just the right attitude when it comes to thrash metal, these guys put on the most enjoyable set of the day so far. It was therefore all the more unfortunate that the second stage was beckoning before the end of the set.

Gama Bomb

The beckoning was from the impending Vreid set from the other room. The Sognametal guys took the dark stage and did their thing. Not the most engaging band, but the war-themed songs were worth sticking around for. Not more so than for the surprise appearance of Valfar's brother and performance of Windir's "The Spiritlord". Nothing else Vried could do would be able to top that.


The next set of the main stage however, would turn out to be the set of the festival. Celts Primordial were a majestic force of passion and hypnotic music. Frontman Alan is possibly the most intense performer in metal, never failing to connect with the audience and convey his message in a way like none other. The set comprised of songs from the last three albums came to an end way too soon, but Primordial undoubtedly stamped their mark all over this festival.


Due to the wonder of the previous main stage band, Aura Noir were already half through their Celtic Frost-style black metal set to a great reception. Apollyon with his laughable black metal attitude plundered through some heavy-hitting songs, pleasing an audience that don't usually get the opportunity to see this band. Back to British on the main stage though, as My Dying Bride opened their doomy set as they intended to go on. It wasn't long before the next band was due on the second stage, however.

My Dying Bride

So to the second stage for some Austrian extreme metal from Belphegor. These guys musically cross black metal and death metal, although their stage show is more geared towards the black with the two animal heads either side of the stage. The room very dark once more, it's hard to take a band with songs like "Bondage Goat Zombie" seriously, although there is no denying the enjoyable sound of blastbeats. The slower portions of the set were dull, but the blastbeats when they came made up for that. An enjoyable albeit generic set.


Back at the Damnation Festival for the first time since annihilating the same room in 2009, Electric Wizard this time had the honour of headlining the main stage of the festival. An Electric Wizard show is an experience like none other; with no introduction the band covertly wandered on stage and began to unleash sonic terror onto the hall. An uncompromising, thick wall of stonery doom metal ravished the ears of everyone within earshot of the hall, until the last pilgrimage to the second stage, that is.

Electric Wizard

Eight years is a long time. That's how long it has been since Pig Destroyer were last playing in the UK. The second stage then understandably had a good amount of people waiting for the inevitable grind-fest the Americans promised. Even without a bass guitar in sight, the set had some unfortunate technical guitar problems costing a sizeable chunk of the set to be wasted. When the band were grinding away, they sounded great, picking and choosing from their four full-length albums. Even with the guitar problems costing ten minutes of the set, for some reason the band left the stage an extra ten minutes from their scheduled end time, closing the festival with a bit of an anticlimax. Electric Wizard over on the main stage were still dooming away for a good while longer.

Pig Destroyer

This year the festival overlapped bands more than ever, which lead to beginnings and endings of sets being missed. Not that much can be done about it, but the third stage remains a totally impossible place to watch bands, even more so now as the calibre of third-stage bands has got higher and higher. As with the previous year, all headlining sets disappointingly clashed with each other. The unfortunate thing is that in the current venue, this can't change due to the impossible amount of traffic the second and third stages would get without each headliner dividing the crowds.

Still, the Damnation Festival remains a highly enjoyable day out for all the metal family. There are no excuses for people able to get to Leeds to miss this event; each year a success, each year leaving us waiting for the next year. See you then!


Written on 09.11.2012 by Member of Staff since 2006.

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