Damnation Festival 2024 is fast approaching. This is great news for fans of the more extreme side of metal as Damnation always delivers a varied and solid line up.
In 2022, Damnation Festival moved back to Manchester after establishing itself on the festival circuit in Leeds (our review here). 2023 sees the festival return to Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester with a whole host of exclusive sets and must see performances. We advocate seeing every single band, buying merch for bands you like, supporting the festival and having a killer time, but here, we pick out a selection of bands that we feel deserve extra special mention.
To buy tickets for the event, click here. It is not to be missed.
DAMNATION PRESENTS: A NIGHT OF SALVATION – 3RD NOVEMBER 2023
BOSSK – PERFORMING ‘AUDIO NOIR’
Bossk are no strangers to Damnation. They played the festival in 2012 , 2016 and 2021. This year, they will be performing their 2016 album, Audio Noir. At the time, the release was a bit of a departure for the band as they had sporadically released excellent EP’s (I, II & III) and singles, but the longform album was something that hadn’t materialised. Recently, the band released a new version of Kobe with Pijn. Hearing this gem of an album in full will be an experience not to be missed.
It is not long since we were in the presence of Ninkharsag. We saw them on the stacked bill with Stormkeep in Manchester in August 2023. The black metal outfit are perennial veterans of the circuit. The Dread March of Solemn Gods is their latest release. It is a brilliant collection of songs that showcase everything that is brilliant about Ninkharsag. Expect razor sharp riffs, dastardly vocals, skulls on mic stands and a blistering performance.
SIGH – PERFORMING SCORN DEFEAT
Sigh are black metal royalty. Scorn Defeat is their first album, released originally in 1993, and brings the fear and fervour of the second wave of Nordic black metal. Such is the influence, Scorn Defeat was originally issued via Euronymous’ Deathlike Silence label. Expect the Japanese outfit to bring the traditional black metal as well as their avant-garde stylings on their second performance of the weekend at Damnation.
Their unique stage show (we witnessed Nordic Giants in Glasgow 2022) is why Nordic Giants are an essential watch. Accompanied by a soundtrack that’s likely to feature a set heavily weighted towards the most recent album, Symbiosis, be prepared for something a little different to the generally heavier tone of the weekend. Immersive and cinematic, a focus on crating an atmosphere with a chance to gently nod your head now and again while taking in the visuals.
LEPROUS – 10TH ANNIVERSARY PERFORMANCE OF ‘COAL’
Leprous have been on our radar for quite a while, developing and evolving with sage-like approval from the prog community. However, it’s back to the roots to revisit what singer Einar Solberg calls “A more melancholic and darker album.” Tracks from the album – Foe, Contaminate Me and The Cloak – have had the legs to feature in later live sets (and also been immortalised on the Rockefeller Music Hall live album) yet the Leprous sound has evolved significantly over their last few albums. Coal at Damnation is a rare opportunity to witness a contemporary take on their Prog Metal beginnings.
DAMNATION FESTIVAL – 4TH NOVEMBER 2023
ENSLAVED – PERFORMING VIKINGLIGR VELDI
It would be foolish not to mention the sets that the mighty Enslaved will be performing. At A Night Of Salvation they will perform Below The Lights in full and at Damnation they will perform their debut album, Vikingligr Veldi, in full. Their sound has evolved over the years so these performances will give fans a chance to go back. Vikingligr Veldi is a monstrous black metal album and is a record that put Enslaved on the metal map.
It’s been just shy of ten years since Ahab last played at Damnation Festival. In 2013, they were touring The Giant and headlined the PHD stage. It was a crushing performance and one that is deeply engrained in the mind of this writer. In a UK exclusive show, Ahab will present selections from their latest offering; The Coral Tombs. This will be doom metal of the highest order; or as Ahab classify themselves; ‘Nautik Doom,’ owing to there seafaring themes. As Martin Brody once said whilst on the seas…’We’re gonna need a bigger boat!’ This is going to be heavy.
Any band signed to Nuclear Blast must be worth their salt. Representing the US take on the Doom and Stoner genre, Khemmis arrive in support of their latest EP, Where the Cold Wind Blows. They will also showcase plenty of material from their ever growing discography since they formed in 2012. This will also be the band’s debut UK show…definitely something to look forward to! Damnation is all about those special moments.
ELECTRIC WIZARD – ONLY UK PERFORMANCE
Only UK appearance this year, a rare chance to celebrate with the occult inspired arch stoner/doom merchants. Once described as the heaviest band in the universe, hopefully some landmark Dopethrone will be on offer from the Wizard, led by Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham. It seems an age since their last album, 2017’s Wizard Bloody Wizard, and the preceding Time to Die and even longer since they led an outrageous bill at Manchester’s Ritz in 2014. After one night of salvation, Electric Wizard are guaranteed to cap Damnation in style.
KATATONIA – PERFORMING ‘DEAD END KINGS’ PLUS ANOTHER FULL SET
Let’s just hope we can see them! Last year at The Ritz was a most dark affair; conserving power and saving on the electricity bills maybe, and while the backlit silhouettes and shadows might have set a suitable atmosphere, a glimpse of Jonas Renkse and the boys might have been appreciated.
Buying into the ‘full album performance’ package, their Dead End Kings (just one of their iconic albums) will feature on one night along with another separate set the second evening means a glut of Scandinavian darkness and aching melancholy, but no-one will be complaining.