Damnation Festival 2010: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 08 November 2010

Overall – 8/10
Now running into its sixth year, Damnation Festival offers a wealthy selection of bands from a variety of metal and punk genres. Metal fans gather in their masses at the University of Leeds Student Union, looking forward to a day packed with music across three stages, rounded off on the Jagermeister Stage by co-headliners Paradise Lost and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

For those who are looking for a place to watch the best that metal has on offer, but without having fork out a loan in order to pay for a camping festival such as Sonisphere or Bloodstock, then Damnation is the place to be, because at £27, you can have all the fun and frolics of the bigger festivals, without the mud and rain. Damnation Festival is definitely one of the top indoor festivals about and if you missed out on the action this year, you only need to look at this year’s line-up to see that it is a great festival that will only get better with time.

Getting there and back – 9/10

Leeds is renowned for being a hub for music in the north and it is evident as to why. Situated at the very top of the M1, you could easily make the journey from London in a couple of hours by car or a two and a half hour journey by train. Bus routes in the city are at their best and easy to navigate your way around in order to find the student union.

The Site – 7/10

The University Of Leeds’ Student Union has proven to be a prime location for other successful festivals like Slam Dunk and Ghostfest, with its capability to be able to host five to six rooms of music effortlessly. Therefore it goes without saying that hosting a festival of half the size to that of Slam Dunk executes itself so smoothly; finding your way around each room is simple and well sign-posted, which is definitely a testament to the organisation.

The only gripe is the actual choice of rooms, where the smallest stage, while intimate enough, is really hard to feel part of the atmosphere when you can barely see the bands, even when on tip-toes. It also feels like there is potential for a fourth stage as the rooms are always full for nearly every band.

Atmosphere – 8/10

With it not only being a metal festival, but a metal festival full of cult bands with dedicated fan bases, it’s clear that there is no time for pretentiousness today. Fans outside of the music are really friendly and respectful, but at the same time absolutely nuts once the music kicks in. It’s really refreshing to see people that know the unwritten etiquette of being in a mosh pit, with the troops picking up their fallen comrades in battle.

Music – 7/10
The line-up is truly eclectic, even within the realms of metal. At times this plays to the festival’s strengths, with bands winning over new fans who may have never even stumbled upon the likes of SSS or Alcest. The prospect of having The Dillinger Escape Plan, Anaal Nathrakh and Lawnmower Deth bringing their own versions of insanity to the table is a prospect that makes the day exciting from start to finish.


The Dillinger Escape Plan – 10/10
The stage is well and truly set for tonight’s headliners, with it being their last date on the UK leg of the tour and one last point to prove as to why they are the craziest stage performers to grace us with both style and substance. Think of all the cliché hardcore moves that you expect from other bands, then apply the DEP touch and what you’re left with in return is stage dives like no other, having both vocalist Greg Puciato diving from the high guest area into the crowd, and then to have guitarist Ben Weinmann dive into the crowd, with guitar in hand, whilst still maintaining the ability to play the complex riff at hand is a sight to behold. Even if the intricacy of their music is too much for your brain to handle on record, the pure energy of the performance alone would be enough to hype the Royal Family into moshing along.

The Ocean – 8/10
Although the band suffers from a few technical gripes, The Ocean’s attitude and handling of this problem whilst delivering a crushing set shows why they’re making a name for themselves, with their latest vocalist Loic Rossetti proving that he suits the dynamic antics that the band have taken on with the last two albums. Loic gets credit for really working up the crowd into a sweat, with the best moments occurring when he starts to crowd surf onto the pipes above, crawling across them like a startled spider.

Lawnmower Deth – 9/10

A talented bit of comic relief is just what the festival needs and these crossover thrash mentalists have the crowd going crazy thanks to tongue-in-cheek lyrics and hilarious banter in between songs. Crowdsurfing races, balloons galore and Satan’s trampoline leaves the audience in stitches between all of the intense moshing.

earthtone9 – 8/10
After re-launching their identity with a brilliant performance at Sonisphere in August, a lot was expectations were hanging onto these comeback kids. Fortunately, they once again live up to expectations, with Karl Middleton taking full control of the microphone, dominating the room with his howling screams to numbers such as ‘Evil Crawling I’ and testing out the water with a new song which goes down a treat with the loyal audience.

Rolo Tomassi – 8/10
Eva Spence and the guys show why Rolo Tomassi is becoming such a trademark name in the technical hardcore scene, successfully cramming in all the songs that were played during The Dillinger Escape Plan tour. The opening two tracks leave the crowd confused, yet intrigued. At first glance, the music might just seem like a collection of loud noises to the unassuming listener. However, it’s when you listen to the intricacies within the songs that you see how their creative genius really prospers live. The build-up between progressive sections leads to some brilliant mosh pits, especially ‘Party Wounds’ and ‘French Motel’, two songs that were destined to be intense mosh pit music. While they may stick out like a sore thumb on the line-up, they most certainly play this trait to their advantage with their quirky stage presence, winning over many new fans in the process.

Random Events

The most random moment has to go to the man presenting himself in a combination of corpse paint, a sombrero and a poncho, to the point where he looks more like Jorge than Horgh! During the Lawnmower Deth set, his participation in the crowdsurfing race entices the crowd to constantly chant “Sombrero! Sombrero!”, which is possibly one of the most surreal things you could expect from this festival, but also one of the memories that makes the day out one to remember for years to come.

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