Listen up people, it’s that time of year again: Damnation Festival is gearing up to give the walls of Leeds University Student Union a good thumping, and the entire campus is going to be swarming with long-haired people in black clothing. Well, more so than usual anyway. As befits tradition, MetalRecusants are here to give you the lowdown of what to expect at this establishment, where £34 can net you 27 bands. Yes, you read that correctly. This time there’s a new doom-focused stage that’s been added, showcasing the finest that Britain and Ireland have to offer, while the other stages return with their own particular bents. These four articles are to give you all a little taster as to what each stage will offer. This time, the Eyesore stage.
First off, let’s get the big one out of the way – Sweden’s Cult Of Luna have garnered an unbelievable amount of hype for their headline show at Damnation, where they will be bringing a full psychedelic lights show to accompany them as they explore both older tracks and offerings from their new ‘album-and-a-half’ Vertikal I & II. Personally I am hoping for a track from my favorite Somewhere Along The Highway, but considering the band’s pedigree of high quality material, the set is bound to be phenomenal.
The other band who have created a buzz around their presence are the supergroup Crippled Black Phoenix, who easily win Oddest Band Of The Festival award in these preliminary stages. A seven-member supergroup whose résumé includes Electric Wizard, Mogwai and Iron Monkey, I was completely surprised when I turned on one of their albums, (Mankind) The Crafty Ape. My foray into this album brought me prog-rock à la Pink Floyd, tribal ambient, stoner rock and the wonderful vocals of Daniel Änghede. Feeling only a little more prepared for what will be a bewildering set, whatever it is that this band does, it’s sure to turn heads at Damnation.
The French appear to have a good line in post-metal bands, and Dirge is but another example of this lineage. Starting out as an industrial band, the group have drifted further into atmospheric post- territory, but still kept the unease and electronic moments of their industrial heritage. Employing a ton of reverb and other effects to their sound, the result when they hit hard is as devastating as the lyrical topics they cover. The vocals of Marc T. are of particular note, ranging from a croon to a full-throated bellow depending on the track concerned. Those who crave a dystopian wasteland as their soundscape for Damnation will do well to check out Dirge’s set.
Despite coming across as an extreme metal festival to the untrained eye, Damnation has always made room for a couple of lighter acts of the post-rock variety. With God Is An Astronaut and Maybeshewill having covered previous years, this time it’s Poland’s Tides From Nebula‘s turn to wave the post-rock flag. Echoing moments of Red Sparowes and Reserve De Marche, theirs is a cosmic and kaleidoscopic take on the genre, promising quite the trip through space as they weave through three albums. If you need a break from the harsh noise of extreme metal, then Tides From Nebula promise to be a beautiful way to chill out and drift. Listen to a new song below:
Staying in celestial quarters, we have the fun-loving Rosetta from Philadelphia to provide your cosmic journey with a bit of heavy on the side. Fun-loving I hear you say? Well, they describe their music as “Anarcho-primitivist Cascadian Blackened Granola Metal” on Facebook, so one can assume they are not too serious. Energetic and dynamic, with plenty of hoarse angry screams and a thundering groove throughout, this is the post-metal you’d expect to play at an extreme metal festival.
Delving further into the “post-” tag, we have a collective of post-minded individuals by the name of The Ocean. The German/Swiss combination have released a string of impressive releases, topped off with Pelagial this year, an album blending Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, the human psyche and the ocean. They’re currently performing said album in its entirety, so we will see if that comes to Damnation or not. The band are also known for their incredibly energetic performances, so keep an eye out for flying instruments and band members. As the Germans would say, “Pflichttermin!” (“It’s a must see!”).
And speaking of must sees, Year Of No Light have completely captivated many of the attendees’ attention with their sludgy-drone-post-metal sound. If you think that sounds confusing, take a listen to the stunning Ausserwelt, or their recently-released pseudo-soundtrack for the 1932 movie Vampyr, to get a feel of what I mean. Going by these albums alone, it seems the band are going to evoke an ambience not unlike what their name suggests…
Check out the previous Damnation festival preview for the Terrorizer Stage.