The definitive
Liverpool Listings Guide

    •   
    Damnation Festival - 2013
    The wait was finally over as November 2nd rolled around and we arrived in Leeds for the UKs finest one day metal offering in the form of Damnation 2013. With a host of brilliant and ranging bands to choose from throughout the day, although organisers managed to keep clashes to a minimum as best they could there were still some decisions to be made about how best to spend our time. Regardless of where we were going to end up across the four stages at Leeds University, a day of great music, great atmosphere and great company was guaranteed and it was time to dive in and start proceedings.

    Twilight of the Gods
    Twilight of the Gods


    Kicking off the main stage action in absolute style this year were the mighty Twilight of the Gods. Starting out life as an all star Bathory tribute act, September saw the release of their first full length album, ‘Fire on the Mountain’, and their short but sweet set at Damnation saw the showcase of this album almost in it’s entirety. “Where were you, when the lights went out for the last time!?” was the question frontman Alan Averill of Primordial screamed out to a crowd looking only half awake as Twilight of the Gods opened with the blisteringly powerful ‘Destiny Forged in Blood’. By the time the opener was done however and they moved on into ‘Children of Cain’ heads were banging and fists were pumping.


    Twilight of the Gods


    The level of musicianship and professionalism on show for a band touring their first album was unprecedented, and although this is of course partly down to the fact members consist of veterans from the likes of Primordial, Aura Noir, Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir and more, it’s really more of a tribute to the chemistry shared between those on stage, the exact kind of chemistry that saw this band take shape from the original tribute concept. Finishing up with the album’s self-titled track, Damnation was officially underway and Twilight of the Gods had set the bar extremely high for the day ahead.



    The Shining
    The Shining

    Following Twilight of the Gods on the main stage and shaking things up massively were The Shining. Not to be mistaken with the Suicidal Black Metal band of the same name from Sweden, iconoclasts The Shining hail from Norway and for over 10 years they have been pushing the boundaries of expression and gathering a following both loyal and eclectic along the way. At first glance The Shining appear to be worlds apart from their roots in avant-jazz and free form rock, but their much heavier, much more extreme sound these days only incorporates those early sounds into the grander scheme of the band’s vision.


    The Shining


    Opening with ‘The Madness and the Damage Done’ from the album that helped define the band’s sound, ‘Black Jazz’, The Shining appeared very focused and ready to bring their all to Damnation, and this only heightened as the set went on. Moving onto playing new material from the latest album ‘One One One’ included ‘The One Inside’ and ‘My Dying Drive’ as frontman Jørgen Munkeby unleashed his signature saxophone on the unsuspecting newcomers watching the band. Although their set was relatively short, by the time they finished on ‘They Won’t Forget’ The Shining appeared appropriately knackered after an adrenaline filled performance that left nothing behind on the stage.



    SSS
    SSS

    Following performances from Iron Witch and Black Magician earlier in the day, SSS continued the assault on Damnation from Liverpool based bands in their main stage slot at tea time. Managing to squeeze in a whopping twenty tracks into their forty minute set, SSS, or Short Sharp Shock, delivered just that in the form of their crossover thrash with a stern political undertone. Wasting no time to spread their message across Leeds University they started off with ‘The Kill Floor’ from their latest album ‘Problems to the answer’ before dropping ‘The Answer is Never’ from their self-titled debut and following with ‘Oil and Water’ from their ‘Dividing Line’ album, and just like that Damnation were theirs.


    SSS


    Pressing on with the assault, the show progressed as SSS moved on into performing their new ‘Manipulated Living’ EP in full with ‘For Your Own Good’, ‘Sleeper Awakes’ and ‘Beige’ going down a storm. This is their first release since moving away from Earache and finding a new home with Prosthetic Records. We were even treated to some material from the future of the band in the form of ‘Powerdown’ from the as yet untitled LP release coming soon. Making the move to Prosthetic seems to have given SSS a new lease of life and the coming months looks to see them reach new heights and a wider audience than ever before as they lead a new era for Crossover thrash.



    The Ocean

    Touring a new album can be tricky. Bands are eager for fans to hear their new material and labels are even more eager for sales to be boosted. However for the fans it’s often the last thing they want to hear, instead praying for a run down of the hits. There are times however, usually in the early stages of a group’s career that they release what will one day be known as their seminal album, and in this case performing new material is welcomed with open arms. Enter The Ocean with ‘Pelagial’.


    The Ocean


    Truly believing in ‘Pelagial’, The Ocean have opted to perform the album in full on this tour and Damnation seemed to be no different as they appeared on the Eyesore Merch stage to the intro before starting off with the mind blowing and for my money finest track on the album ‘Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny’ before making their way through the track list. The combination of the album being a conceptual piece of music that fits together seamlessly as one, the tremendous lighting, the huge LED screen, and the incessant performance of the band made for a very special performance indeed, and I have no doubt that in years to come fans of The Ocean will look back on ‘Pelagial’ as a golden age, ‘Rust in Peace’ esque era for the band.


    The Ocean

    Crippled Black Phoenix
    Crippled Black Phoenix

    One of the real highlights of the weekend for me was a band that I knew enough about to want to go and watch them over Vallenfyre, but had no idea how big of a fan I would be by the end of the day, Crippled Black Phoenix. Combining a collective of musicians from bands such as Iron Monkey, Electric Wizard and Mogwai with the sounds trapped inside the head of Justin Greaves, 2004 saw the birth of Crippled Black Phoenix and the ‘endtime ballads’ that they write. Taking to the stage with a setup of two keyboards, drums, several guitarists and microphones alongside wonderfully atmospheric blue lighting, the British collective dived into performing some of the more straight up rock focused tracks for the extreme metal demographic that stood before them before mixing things up throughout the set.


    Crippled Black Phoenix


    Showcasing their 2012 release of ‘(Mankind)The Crafty Ape’ with tracks ‘Born in a Hurricane’, ‘Laying Traps’ and ‘The Brain/Poznan’ as well as a particular highlight in ‘Troublemaker’ from their ‘I, Vigilante’ album set Damnation on fire. Performing this diverse mix of styles on stage is something that comes naturally to Crippled Black Phoenix because of how they write their records and everything transfers onto the stage seamlessly. Coupling that with the horde of brilliant musicians working effortlessly in sync with one another made for a spellbinding performance that stole my vote as band of the festival.



    Carcass
    Carcass

    Headlining not only the festival itself but also leading the pack of Liverpool bands that dominated this year’s Damnation were extreme metal legends Carcass. Fresh off the back of their first studio album in 18 years, ‘Surgical Steel’, and with rave reviews in abundance from the tour so far, the main stage was crammed full of metalheads waiting to expend all of their remaining energy by finishing the festival in style with the wirral legends. Taking to the smoke filled Jagermeister stage, Carcass launched into ‘Buried Dream’ followed by ‘Incarnated Solvent Abuse’ and instantly set the rapid tempo and vicious theme with which they meant to go on. Tracks from the new album such as ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ and ‘Unfit for Human Consumption’ blended in with the classics flawlessly, which is as much a testament to Carcass’ live prowess as it is to the quality of their writing six albums and almost thirty years deep into their career.


    Carcass

    As frontman Jeff Walker addresses the crowd and introduces the band, including a jovial nod to lead guitarist Bill Steer being “The best guitarist to ever come out of Heswall”, it’s clear that Carcass are having an absolute blast on stage and are feeding off the energy and enthusiasm of a jam packed Damnation to fuel their performance. This is a band that have obviously been through a lot to get here, but what came next saw them acknowledge a part of the band that has been through more than anything as founding member and original drummer Ken Owen took to the stage. In 1999 Owen suffered from a brain hemorrhage and since slowly emerging from a coma he has fought tooth and nail to get back doing what he loves. For many years this could only ever involve making music digitally but more recently he has managed to begin playing the drums again in some capacity and as he was welcomed onto the stage by the band before taking his rightful place and churning out a drum solo, the crowd at Damnation almost brought the roof down with their roars of respect and admiration.


    Owen took one last proud bow before handing things back over to Walker as Carcass began to finish the show in style with a medley of their last album before the break up, 1996’s aptly named ‘Swansong’. Appropriately bringing the show to a close with ‘Keep on Rotting in the Free World’ saw the crowd scream along to every last word and bang their heads to every last riff until the end before saluting their departure from the stage. Carcass really brought their A game to Damnation and were a perfect fit to headline the festival.


    Damnation Festival Closing Photo

    And just like that, in a flash of guitars, smoke machines and perhaps one too many rum and cokes, it was over. The organisers of Damnation already held the title of the UKs finest one day metal festival, but they still pushed themselves even further this year and made it their best and most successful year yet. Hinting that they’ll be celebrating their 10th anniversary next year by extending things to a two day event instead leaves my mouth watering as I imagine what they would be able to conjure up for that. Watch this space for announcements on that front, and see you all next year!

    •   
      Nick's posts By Nick Malone
      @BandsPlayedOn


    •   

      Comments

      Leave a Comment

      Please enter your comment below

      Some problems were encountered

    •   
    •   Advertise with us