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Damnation Festival 2014 - Leeds, England, 1st November 2014

Event: Damnation Festival 2014 - 10th Anniversary
Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 22.11.2014

School, university, jobs, relationships... a lot can change in ten years. There might not be too many consistencies in life these days, but for the past ten years, the Damnation Festival has been a must - a necessity - for anyone who appreciates this kind of music. With the move to Leeds the festival grew bigger than probably anyone expected it to, and as we find ourselves in the year 2014 the festival is a streamlined, professional operation for all to enjoy.

Damnation Official Photo © Gobinder Jhitta

Again, four stages permitted a fair amount of choice with the eclectic selection of performing bands. This year the much sought after Bolt Thrower found themselves headlining the main stage, with a host of other worthy bands delivering their music from the early afternoon through to the headline slots.

Xerath - Damnation Official Photo © Tim Finch
First band of the festival opening up the second stage, Amputated looked much different to the band that performed on this stage a few years ago as part of one of the UK Deathfests. Recently releasing their first album in five years Dissect Molest Ingest, the band ploughed through a set list of mostly new material. Enjoyable yes, and certainly a nice way to kick the festival off, but this new formation of Amputated fell short of the band five years ago.

Back at Damnation, Xerath were over on the second stage this year and armed with a new album to show off. The imaginatively titled III provided the entire set, apart from the final song of the set "Unite To Defy". Unfortunately for the band, this illustrated quite painfully how comparatively dull the latest album is compared to 2011's II.

Winterfylleth - Damnation Official Photo © Tim Finch
First time at Damnation Festival, Swedish death metal juggernaught Aeon took stage and proceeded to execute a professional and yet crushing set of songs from their three albums - the last of which was released four years ago. Perhaps then not the most well-known band on the festival's bill, and with minimal interaction with the audience, the band still drew a great crowd. Aeon are one of the most straight-forward and crushing death metal bands out there, they would certainly be welcomed back.

Winterfylleth get around a fair bit these days, and their distinctly Pagan form of black metal offered a bit of a change from the death metal we had been watching. The band's music is both greatly fulfilling and powerful, but also requires a certain kind of atmosphere to translate perfectly live. Maybe the sound was not perfect, or something else, but this wasn't the greatest Winterfylleth show ever. Not to say it wasn't enjoyable, just that something was missing. These guys are utterly brilliant, but maybe it would have been nicer to hear their sounds coming from the booming system of the main stage.

Revocation - Damnation Official Photo © Gobinder Jhitta
The venue for the Damnation Festival is top notch; you can't really say too many things bad about it at all. Lack of seating seems to be a consistent niggle though, and so it became time to eat, sit, explore and flit between a few stages. Over on the second stage Revocation were performing to a busy room with their brand of death metal, and the main stage brought us the heavy sounds of Orange Goblin - who it would have been nice to see a little more of.

The festival sold out this year, and was therefore packed. This meant that if there was any chance of getting a good view of Anaal Nathrakh on the second stage, we'd have to get there pretty sharpish. As expected, the room packed out for Anaal Nathrakh and chaos ensued. These guys, Dave Hunt especially, have played here countless times and were therefore no strangers. Perhaps a tad more complacent than you might have hoped, the band veered through their set. Seeing Anaal Nathrakh live used to be something really special, but for a number of years now their material hasn't seemed to go anywhere new and it just seems like the same thing over and over. Anaal Nathrakh were enjoyable, the packed audience certainly responded well, but it's hard to remember a time when this band hardly ever played live. Maybe you can have too much of a good thing.

Anaal Nathrakh - Damnation Official Photo © Tim Finch
Over on the main stage, Saint Vitus had kicked off to a crowded hall and appeared in fine form. Over on the second stage Cannibal Corpse were about to continue the run of great extreme metal bands to headline their stage. Cannibal Corpse have been around for years now, always doing the same thing. It just so happens that this band's unmistakable sound apparently does not get old, and with George's visible effort to deliver an enjoyable show both vocally and rapport-wise - it's hard not to get excited before seeing this death metal institution. Opening with three classics including "Fucked With A Knife", the band promptly stepped into this year and gave us three new songs from the Skeletal Domain album. Working vaguely backwards through the years we visited newer favourites such as "Make Them Suffer" and older ones like "I Cum Blood", obligatory "Hammer Smashed Face" and "Devoured By Vermin" the close the show. Cannibal Corpse are consummate professionals - they were the only band of the day that appeared to make great effort to steal the spotlight of the festival, and in many ways they definitely did.

Cannibal Corpse - Damnation Official Photo © Gobinder Jhitta
Due to how busy the sold out festival was, and the mass exodus from stage two to the main stage after Cannibal Corpse had finished, Bolt Thrower had already kicked off the proceedings before it was possible to get there. The main hall had certainly become a lot busier and with good reason; it is not every day Bolt Thrower play live, let alone in their own country. Looking around, it was clear to see the amount of people who had waited for this moment. The band did not disappoint; as encouraged, enjoying life through death metal certainly seemed like a good plan. Visiting albums from over the years, it was "At First Light" and "When Cannons Fade" to close the set, with an added encore of "Silent Demise". Bolt Thrower are that stick in the mud that from the late eighties to the present day, have not wavered or compromised on their sound. Closing the festival this year was a treat for the Leeds audience, who undoubtedly will be hoping it won't be too long before they come around again.

Damnation Festival has been around for ten years now, and deservedly so. Each year the organizers get together an intriguing and enjoyable collection of bands, and each year the choreography and fine details of the festival become smoother and more refined. We are lucky to have such a great event year after year, and for that we are grateful.

Bolt Thrower - Damnation Official Photo © Gobinder Jhitta

For another year, thank you Damnation.

Written on 22.11.2014 by Member of Staff since 2006.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 60 users
22.11.2014 - 16:10
Darkside Momo
Nice report, Baz!
Not taking paictures anymore?
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23.11.2014 - 21:27
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Darkside Momo on 22.11.2014 at 16:10

Nice report, Baz!
Not taking paictures anymore?

baz always writes good, even I would choose Orange Goblin, Ahab, St Vitus, Fen , Sólstafir and A Forest Of Stars, also CC ... rest is not for me, and I never will understand why ppl takes care much about Anaal Naachrakt
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

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I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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