One of the UK’s foremost halls of learning, for one day of the year academia at Leeds University is sidelined by some of the sharpest tools in the extreme metal box. With Damnation Festival fast approaching Paul Castles casts a beady eye over some of the treats that lie in store for those making the annual pilgrimage to Leeds University.
Birmingham agitators Anaal Nathrakkh are no strangers to Damnation but their return to Leeds University Union this year could scarcely be more eagerly anticipated following the release of their stunning new album A New Kind of Horror. Adding further fuel to the fire – if any were needed for those hoardes heading to Yorkshire on Saturday, November 3 – is the fact that this will be Nathrakh’s only UK show this year following the album’s release.
Last here four years ago, the rise of the extreme metal duo is highlighted by their presence for the first time on the premier Jagermeister Stage. The pair stated: “Damnation has long been one of the best one-day events anywhere, and the team unfailingly put together a superb line-up – a great festival to be at and play at. This year is perfect timing for us, as it takes place just after the release of our new album, A New Kind of Horror. A move up to the main stage, new songs to play, we’re genuinely excited to get back to Damnation and pile on the savagery.”
On what promises to be a memorable day for Second City artists, Nathrakh will be joined in Leeds by equally uncompromising brethren in Napalm Death and Fukpig. The former will no doubt be delivering the same searing brand of power-violence political prose they expunged to such devastating effect at Desertfest earlier in the year. As for the Necropunk grind freaks Fukpig, Damnation will provide them with a first live platform in seven years, the band announcing to the surprise of no-one: “Since 2011 the world has turned to such absolute shit that we can no longer keep quiet. Damnation is the first show we will be playing and it will get all of our fucking anger poured over it.”
Not everyone at Damnation carries the same degree of vicious velocity with Norwegian metal legend Ihsahn, and Polish black metal maestros Batushka, both having very different chestnuts to roast on Bonfire weekend. Both bands will play exclusive UK shows at the 14th edition of the event, which is hosted over four stages at Leeds University Union.
A one-off 30th anniversary show by Cancer, carries one of those ‘not to be missed labels’, with the UK death metal legends, saying: “We are thrilled to be included on the bill at Damnation, especially as it is our 30th year since our formation and will coincide with the release of our new album Shadow Gripped, to be released by Peaceville Records. We will be unveiling some new songs from the album as playing some of our old favourites.”
Taking things at a slightly slower tempo will be Tyneside doom triumvirate Bong while Leeds local boys One Hundred Year Old Man will be expunging a headspinning array of interlocking and overlapping riffs, as indeed will the mercurial Ohhms whose frontman Paul Waller should invite Barney for an end of fest dance off!
Death metal devotees will also be keen to catch the UK debut of Swedish newcomers Lik, featuring members of Bloodbath and Katatonia. Lik said: “Some of us in the band have played this great festival with other constellations in the past, so when we got offered to play there was no hesitation. It’s a day where people with genuine passion for the music meet and we have only fond memories from performing at Damnation Festival. These words should spell out that we’re more than stoked to come and deliver some good ol’ death in Leeds!”
Swedish colours will also be flown by veterans Entombed AD while Polish powerhouse Vader can also be trusted to deliver an uncompromising old school set. Grammy award winning noise-rockers Årabrot will bring their distinctive Norwegian sound to the party. Årabrot said: “Thank you for having us, Damnation. Årabrot is pleased to return to Leeds for the first time in a decade. We hope it will be hotter than Dante’s Nine Circles Of Hell.”
North Dakota’s enigmatic blackgaze collective, Ghost Bath, Philadelphia’s post-metallers, Rosetta and Denmark’s stunning MØL all add their own distinct traits and charms to an incredible Damnation line-up this year.
Festival Director Gavin McInally said: “Tickets went on sale this year before a single band was announced and we were stunned by the swell of loyal fans who put their faith in us. Damnation 2018, features 18 bands who’ve never played the event before, eight UK exclusive appearances by the likes of Ihsahn, Batushka, NeObliviscaris, Celeste and Mourning Beloveth, a UK debut… and Napalm fucking Death. Grab your tickets and help us sell Damnation out for the third year on the bounce, for what looks certain to be the heaviest chapter in the event’s proud history.”