For the second part of our Damnation Festival 2012 review, our deputy editor, Hugh Platt, raves about Amenra and Extreme Noise Terror, and remembers falling over in a toilet. You stay classy, Hugh.
Six things Hugh Platt learned when he went to Damnation Festival 2012:
1) It’s something of a mixed blessing that local boys, Hawk Eyes, have the honour of opening the main stage here at Damnation Festival. Regardless of the jagged, riff-heavy mechanisms onstage, the contrarian longhairs of the early Damnation crowd have mostly stayed away, apparently more afraid of being seen to enjoy a band lacking the requisite studs’n’spikes quota than they are of missing out on ‘Witch Hunt’ played live.
2) Devil Sold His Soul suffer in much the same way, their post-metal inspired atmospherics getting short-shift from a crowd that doesn’t seem to be able to get over their haircut-hardcore looks. Which is a shame, as Empire of Light could easily rub shoulders with any record in the beard-strokers of Damnation’s record collections and swap notes on how constructing “soundscapes” isn’t just about waggling a load of feedback over an off-kilter drum loop or two.
3) We’re so bloody delighted to see John Loughlin, former Raging Speedhorn vocalist, on stage as a member of Extreme Noise Terror that we text everyone we know who might even slightly care about how happy we are in CAPITAL LETTERS. Loughlin’s hell-screech is a solid counterpart for Dean Jones’ gruffer bark. For the next half an hour, Extreme Noise Terror’s rough and gloriously unsubtle crustiness was the solid punt to the privates that Damnation needed to kick itself out of the more laid-back afternoon sets and into the more frantic evening sessions.
4) Primordial are reliably triumphant over on the main stage. Normally we’d shy away from using a phrase like “reliably triumphant” to describe a band, but the sheer roar that erupts when Alan Averill stands with his arms outstretched at the start of ‘No Grave Deep Enough’ ploughs through the Jagermeister stage like a runaway bulldozer. We do have that niggling thought we always get when we see them play live – is Alan Averill the only one in the band wearing corpsepaint because everyone else in his band is a bit too embarrassed to do it? (Did he turn up wearing it one day after they had all agreed to do it but the rest of his band bottled it, and now it’s a “thing” they do? What we wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the all at that band practice)
5) Aura Noir were certainly raucous enough that when we spilt our beer all the way down the back of the hairy and shirtless man in front of us, rather than turn around and lamp us, he gave us a high-five and kept on raging to their Scandinavian thrash. We know that’s not much of a review, but at this point we’re not sure whether it was the booze-fug or the capable-but-unexceptional display of passable blackened thrash that’s getting in the way of us making a more pronounced judgment at this point. We fell over in a toilet around about this time, so we weren’t exactly the steadiest people on our feet at Leeds University Union by this point.
6) Amenra. A-men-bloody-ra. Any feelings of beer-fatigue or general all-round festival-torpor we might’ve been feeling weren’t just blown clear out of our minds, but clear out the local postcode. Amenra are intense. Even crammed up on the side of the Eyesore Stage, we feel humbled and insignificant in the face of what’s happening onstage. Colin H. Van Eeckhout, to give the band’s frontman his full name, is a thin, coiled spring of a man. Even when not called upon to add his voice to the pulsing, growling, creature of noise he fronts, he writhes about in the eye-blinding lights like he wants to stab someone, but just isn’t sure who. Or maybe that should be “how many”? Regardless, it’s moments like this that remind us why Damnation remains not just an important date on UK metal’s calendar, but a vital one at that.