Damnation Festival 2018

Damnation Festival 2018, November 3rd, Leeds, UK

While the first weekend in November was hosting Guy Fawkes celebrations across the country, Leeds University had its own reason to celebrate — Damnation Festival 2018, which was taking place on November 3rd at Leeds University’s Student Union.

Over the years the festival has featured a vast amount of bands of various metal genres like Sodom, Dying Fetus, Enslaved, Carcass, At The Gates… just few to mention. This year, the fully sold out 14th edition was hosting near 30 bands on four stages, with, as usually, brilliant line up.

 The festival kicked off on the best start with the brutality of Mancunian mob Leeched on the Tone MGMT Stage and progressive tones of Danish-Swedish quartet Vola on Eyesore Merch Stage.

The tiny Cult Never Dies Stage was completely sinking in smoke and one could tell that local Leeds post metallers Hundred Year Old Man were on it only by the droning riffs filling the small basement room.

Straight after Vola the Eyesore Merch Stage was sinking in similar sounds. A very energetic, intense performance from Australian prog metal outfit Caligula’s Horse. With their European tour coming near end, bands frontman Jim Grey’s was thanking the crowd for supporting them on the travels as they “want to spread the message of love”. He noted: “Metal is not ‘I am’ – it’s ‘we are'”. And he’s damn right!

Celebrating their 30th anniversary with a special one-off show, Cancer were opening the Jägermeister Stage. A day after the launch of their first album in 13 years — “Shadow Gripped” released via Peaceville Records , they did put on one hell of a show. Unfortunately, a fire alarm derailed their set forcing everyone outside for some good 15 minutes.

Ohhms, as always, did things their own way. With everyone back in place after the evacuation, the British progressive doom rockers hit the Eyesore Merch Stage with a piece over 20 minutes long, from their latest just released album “Exist”.

Then we were treated to beautiful melodies and intricate riffing from Australian progressive metal six-piece Ne Obliviscaris. Such a shame though, this was their only UK appearance.

Austrian thrashers Insanity Alert were definitely alerting some insanity going on in the basement where Cult Never Dies Stage was located. Their obvious goal was to stir up the crowd and they did succeed, especially, with their own take on Iron Malden classic when the polystyrene boards with slogans “Run to the pit” and “Mosh for your life”came out.

The room of Tone MGMT Stage was filling now with beautiful, emotionally charged melodies performed by British atmospheric/ black metal outfit Saor. For me, this was, no doubt, one of the best performances of the day which also was visually stunning.

UK’s extreme metallers Anaal Nathrakh who not that long ago have brought out their latest album “A New Kind Of Horror” came and destroyed the main room despite some sound issues. The fans were headbanging, moshing, going totally wild and did not care too much about the at times muffled sound.

Quite a unique stage presence from the French quartet Celeste with completely cutting the house lights with only red backdrop in the occasional strobe flash and a red glare from their head torches.

Swedish death metal act Entombed A.D. crushed it again. A brilliant set with lots of interaction with the crowd which, by the look of the enthusiasm, loved every minute of it.

Leeds’ own progressive black metal band, A Forest Of Stars, fresh from a great performance at Bloodstock, was treating with an hour-long set on the Cult Never Dies Stage.

Ever since I heard the Polish black metal legion’s Batushka album, I have been a huge fan and was, obviously, very keen to finally get a chance to see this band live. The set started with a 20 minute delay and kicked off with a long ambient intro which didn’t help either. It was a very visual performance, as expected, and by no means bad, however, I do have to say, I left the room with the feeling of disappointment.

Due to Batushka running late, I, unfortunately, managed to see only the very end of Monuments set. But I got there right in time for bands frontman Chris Barretto throwing himself in the raised arms of the festival goers. If I have not been fully convinced by Monuments records, then live this band is absolutely amazing.

As next Jägermeister Stage was hosting another exclusive UK show: this time the frontman of Emperor himself – Ihsahn, following his critically acclaimed performance at Bloodstock festival this year. Simple setup with no theatrics, this performance was all about the artistry and letting music do the talking.

To close MGMT Stage there were Polish death metal legion Vader. With stage full of smoke sinking in bright green and blue light, we got an hour of death metal perfection.

Eyesore Merch Stage was closed by German progressive outfit The Ocean ( also known as The Ocean Collective). A tight, attention demanding set with intricate melodies and drastic switches between clean vocals and throat shredding roars.

Main stage headliners, British grind icons Napalm Death were up for a brutal display to a fully packed main room. Like for Anaal Nathrakh earlier in the day, the crowd was going wild pumping fists, moshing and crowd surfing.

Closing Cult Never Dies Stage were American atmospheric black metallers Ghost Bath. Not a great time slot with most of the folks in the main room for Napalm Death, luckily though they still had quite a crowd wanting to listen to their howling vocals doing justice to bands name and the exhilarating guitars.

It has been a very busy and great day! My only moan would be though the always clashing two bands. The quite limited space to move around between the smaller stages did create unnecessary queues and crowds at the start and end of each set, because everyone was trying to move between the stages at the same time.

Sending a Thank You to the organizers for putting this great festival together.

Oh, and mark his in your calendars metalheads — Damnation Festival 2019 will be taking place on November 2nd, same place. See you there!

Full line up:

Jägermeister Stage Tone Stage Eyesore Stage Cult Never Dies Stage
Napalm Death Vader The Ocean Ghost Bath
Ihsahn Batushka Monuments Mourning Beloveth
Entombed AD Celeste Arabot A Forest Of Stars
Anaal Nathrakh SAOR Rosetta Bong
Ne Obliviscaris Lik Ohhms Insanity Alert
Cancer Fukpig Caligula’s Horse Møl
Leeched Vola Hundred Year Old Man






Metalhead travel junkie and a geek.