Saturday 7th November sees Leeds University host the 12th annual Damnation festival, one of the largest one-day Metal events in Europe and with, arguably, this year’s 27 bands providing its most potent bill ever. Swedish MeloDeath pioneers At The Gates lead the event but, with Irish Black / Trad legends Primordial, Belgian tortured ‘Posties’ AmenRa, Oakland power-Stoners High on Fire and Doom heroes 40 Watt Sun in accompaniment among other giants of the extreme scene, there is no shortage of serious competition.
Festival team member and Press Officer Becky Laverty is suitably enthusiastic about the event, which will be opened by UK outfits Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster and The King Is Blind. “It was great to nab At The Gates as our headliners, they’re an awesome outfit. But we’re incredibly happy with the rest of the line-up too: there are some cracking bands, each of which will be bringing something unique to this year’s table. Japanese Post-instrumentalists Mono, for example, couldn’t be more different from, say, High on Fire: yet both are perfect fits for us. We pride ourselves on having both up-and-coming bands as well as big names, so we’re confident of delivering another eclectic and exciting day.”
Capacity has been reduced after criticism was levelled with regard to much overcrowding during 2014’s tenth anniversary show. Becky confirms: “We listen to the feedback we get after each event, and always take it on board, so it made sense to respond this way when people complained. We can’t perfectly predict how many will want to watch each band – although we do give a lot of thought into every band’s slot on the bill – so we removed some of the pressure this year. Hopefully this should mean no more queues to get into any of the rooms, and a bit more room to move around unhindered throughout the day.”
Savannah Sludgers Black Tusk were scheduled to play, but recently had to pull out. Fortunately some high-quality help was at hand. “Unfortunately Black Tusk had to cancel their present tour plans entirely” Becky explains. “We shuffled things around as a result, and we think Brighton crushers Sea Bastard are total heroes for stepping into the gap. Such is the nature of the business: delays and cancellations do happen. Our fingers are firmly crossed that we’ve got that out of the way, and it’ll be all plain sailing from here!”
With so many fantastic bands over four stages, it must be hell to avoid catastrophic clashes, though largely these seem to have been negotiated this year. “We put a lot of time and energy into getting the line-up right. Gavin McInally, Paul Farrington and I go back and forth for weeks to try and create a timetable that does justice to all of the bands, but also to the fans who will have a jam-packed schedule on the day. We can’t keep everyone happy of course, but we certainly try our best.”
That’s a colossal understatement for one of the smallest, hardest-working festival teams around right now. At the time of writing, tickets are still available for what promises to be as intense an event as ever. £36 for 27 bands?
You know what to do…
WORDS BY PAUL QUINN