Damnation Festival is the UK’s premier one-day metal event; giving a voice to the underground, a stage to the shunned and and a much-needed shot in the arm to a starved British scene.
Since its bold inception in Manchester eight years ago, the event has grown to a three-stage behemoth in Leeds, catering for vastly varied tastes from crust and grind through extreme metal to the soothing tones of post-rock.
Backed by Terrorizer magazines and fuelled by Jägermeister, Damnation Festival has hosted remarkable performances over the years with the likes of Devin Townsend Project, Carcass, Godflesh, My Dying Bride, Ulver, Life of Agony, Napalm Death, Therapy?, Kreator and The Dillinger Escape Plan writing themselves into the history books.
And with the next chapter promising to host a mix of the sublime with the downright brutal, the only place to be this November is Leeds, with pint in hand and ready for the chaos of the eighth instalment of the country’s most vital metal event..
In 2005 Damnation Festival burst onto the UK metal scene kicking and squealing in an sparse era when fans had the choice between a rock radio friendly, corporate giant or a weekend of power metal.
A rare, if not unique, chance to see the likes of Entombed, Raging Speedhorn, Gorerotted, Sikth, Charger and Gutworm among others for the price of a cheap gig ticket caught the imagination of Manchester and 1,000 tickets later the ‘Sold Out’ sign was up by Sunday, October 16.
The following year followed suit with The Haunted, Skindred, Akercocke, Stampin’ Ground, Ephel Duath and thrash upstarts Evile making sure Jilly’s Rockworld was once again packed to capacity.
In 2007 a move to Leeds Met was required to accommodate the 1,400 fans of Kreator, Amen, Anaal Nathrakh, Kataklysm, Orange Goblin and Aborted as Damnation continued to stamp it’s mark on the UK map.
But it was 2008 which set Damnation apart from the competition and won the event the prestigious title of ‘Best UK Festival’, voted for by the readers of Terrorizer magazine.
Carcass made their long awaited return to their homeland with a stunning performance which followed blinding sets by the likes of My Dying Bride, Sigh, Napalm Death and Cathedral and the introduction of the eclectic Rock Sound Stage.
Veteran thrash titans Onslaught recorded their set and released it as their ‘Live Damnation’ album after 3,500 sold out the event in advance.
Despite a stellar line-up which included Life Of Agony, Therapy?, Destruction, Anathema, Jesu and Electric Wizard last year couldn’t compete with the volume of fans 2008 attracted, not helped by a recession, unavoidable cancellations, countless tours and stiff competition from emerging festivals.
Although for the near 2,000 fans who did attend, it was another blinding day of metal and obligatory carnage.
Damnation retreated into the more humble venues of Leeds Uni in 2010 where the masses turned out in force for the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Paradise Lost, Earthtone9, Lawnmower Deth and Alcest and transformed the unsuspecting rooms into warzones.
Back on its feet and more defiant than ever, last year’s event was the second busiest chapter in Damnation’s remarkable history with close to 2,500 people causing carnage to the likes of Devin Townsend, Godflesh, Ulver, Grand Magus and there was even a celebratory dance for the unexpected sight of Turisas.
2012 saw Damnation at its busiest since 2008, as the masses turned out to catch visual feasts from Electric Wizard and Amenar, while Pig Destroyer made a welcome return to the UK for the first time in 8 years.
With 2013 being pieced together, the only thing that’s promised is another instalment of unadulterated metal worth stripping to the waist and throwing yourself about to.