Editor’s note: We had hoped to cover Damnation in some official capacity, but then Noel went and employed the rather frowned-upon weapon of ‘flippancy’ in a preview article, and thus wrecked our chances. Quite beside ourselves we were. But then Will Downes, one of our other magnificent writers, happened to be reminded of a practice called ‘purchasing a ticket’, something that is apparently quite the rage with persons who have not yet managed to find a corner of the internet to spew their godawful opinions into.
We bid him do so and sent him into the field.
Ah Damnation, one of the few “festivals” that can boast genuinely interesting and varied line-ups that don’t seem to be based purely on flavourofthemonthisms (yes that is a word). My day started in the only way these kind of days can, with a beer, and off I went to see the first band of the afternoon. Ravens Creed were, from what I dimly recall, so-so and the room was absolutely packed. Sorry, that’s about all I can remember.
Another beer and act two, The Atrocity Exhibit. Again, it was okay but nothing that blew me away. To be honest, at this stage of the day the beer part of the equation was winning over metal, assisted by its good friend conversation, so apologies to those bands I missed. Actually, I’m not that sorry, because I paid like any other bastard and that means I can talk to who I want to, OKAY MUM?
I had planned on going to see DSHS but I got distracted by the aformentioned booze, a lady and a very welcome surprise in Winterfylleth. I would also like to add that the Jägermeister stage was incredibly awkward to get to and I really only saw one band on that stage all day.
Winterfylleth were not what I was expecting. Who was this hardcore band with the odd moniker that looked like George RR Martin had tripped over his typewriter? And what were they doing being one of the best black metal bands I’ve ever seen live? It is testament to their performance that they became the band I made the most effort to acquire in digital format upon my return to my hovel.
Extreme Noise Terror really didn’t excite me, and having seen them previously this was the perfect time to get some munch happening upstairs in the supermarket bit, where I purchased a ridiculous hot dog and struggled to eat it. My stomach was very full. Full of beer and Winterfylleth riffs.
In some slight discomfort I headed to see Bossk as fellow pigeonaut Paul would have been mightily cross if I hadn’t. They were not at all what I expected but it certainly fell into the category of Paul-music. They had the most diverse crowd of the day and it was easy to see why as they played a soundtrack to the end of the world and the crowd swayed as one, an odd moment of beauty in a day otherwise filled with mansweat.
Next off to the Terrorizer Stage where I would pretty much set up shop for the remainder of the day. Vreid came next and it was another dose of Black Metal and to be honest it was just a bit meh for me. But others seemed to enjoy it. Never mind. Beer!
From there to one of the genuine few surprises for a jaded metal-head like me. Aura Noir were a real shock. For starters they’re a thrash band that I’d never listened to before. I wasn’t actually sure that was possible. If I could remove all the wasted time I spent on listening to Trivium et al hoping they might play something metal and replace it with this, then I would bite their hands off. This band are so tight it was almost flawless and they put the so called Big Four to shame. Brilliant. If you like thrash then you should get everything by this band. Immediately.
Now to the solitary occasion that I trudged to the Jägermeister stage. It lay beyond the massive merch area and was surprisingly the largest stage area. Which made it quite a shame all it had to muster was My Dying Bride. Ah, My Dying Bride… I know that goths exist and are real people with feelings and that, but this was just boring. The highlight of their set was watching some goth dude grinding on his ‘girlfriend’. I left hastily and perused the merch area.
(Side note: the merch area was surprisingly reasonably priced throughout. Well done!)
Back to the Terrorizer stage to catch Belphegor, for which I was not holding out much hope. I have most of their albums, but there are none that I genuinely love and regularly listen to – but that could change after this performance. Hooray for death metal! The sound was perfect and the band completely on form. Lovely!
Lastly but by no means least came Pig Destroyer. This is why I was here, everything else in the day was just foreplay to this moment. Would they finish me off and give me the happy ending that my heart so desired? Yes, of course they fucking would.
A massive issue with sound midway through the set couldn’t dampen a performance that showed why these guys are the masters of grind. Stupidly complex drums, groove laden guitar, amusing samples and a very, very, very angry man make PD essential viewing and listening.
And I’m spent…
So in conclusion, Damnation 2012 was a ‘damn’ fine time. Let’s see if next year they might let us back in an official capacity. You know, unless Noel manages to piss them off again of course, which is entirely possible.