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Damnation Festival (w/ Carcass, Paradise Lost, and more) @ Leeds University (Leeds, UK) on November 6, 2021 [Photos & Show Review]

Damnation Festival returns to Leeds University for one final blowout and we join the party with Carcass, Conjurer, Man Must Die and more.

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After two long years, Damnation Festival returned to Leeds University in 2021 for one final send-off before moving to their new home at the BEC Arena in Manchester for the 2022 event. Predictably, the extreme metal all-day event was a sell-out long in advance of doors opening and, as we arrive at the venue early doors on Saturday, the queue is snaking down the street with the sounds of Cryptic Shift and Mountain Caller already rumbling through the walls.

Following a nosy around the impressive merch market, our Damnation Festival experience starts in earnest with a double blast of Scottish extremity and some good old British thrash. First up are Glaswegian party boys Party Cannon. Now, given that barely twelve hours earlier, thanks to Akercocke, Orange Goblin, Svalbard, and Raging Speedhorn, things became absolutely feral for the “Night of Salvation” opening party, you’d have expected a few sore heads but Party Cannon made sure that hangovers were soon forgotten with their inflatable-packed set pulling in plenty of fans wanting to pick up where last night ended.

Whereas Party Cannon put a smile on everyone’s faces, fellow Glaswegians Man Must Die were utterly terrifying. The technical death metal band hammered through their set with the likes of “It Comes In Threes” delivered with violent, jackhammer precision. Sandwiched between the two, we made our first visit to the main stage for the scintillating thrash of UK favourites Evile who kicked off proceedings in the main hall in typically ferocious fashion.

Damnation Festival (w/ Evile, Onslaught, Godflesh and more) @ Leeds University (Leeds, UK) on November 6, 2021

By now, and as is the case with Damnation Festival due to the logistics of the venue, our schedule went out of the window and we just tried to cram in as many bands as we could. The venue was rapidly filling up with many longtime Damnation attendees experienced enough to know that if you wanted to see specific bands, getting into the particular room early doors was the way to go even if it meant missing bands elsewhere. Our next excursion was to the packed Cult Never Dies stage for the utterly filthy death metal crew Video Nasties who, bathed in smoke and ominous green lights ripped through their horror-inspired death metal.

With the pandemic lockdown decimating the original lineup for Damnation 2021, it was nice to see that, of the restarted lineup, only Green Lung was forced to drop out last minute. Their replacement though was Svalbard who, playing their second Damnation set in two days, were more than worthy replacements. Fronted by Serena Cherry, the post-rock/black metal outfit are simply on fire as they switch effortlessly between soothing passages and unrelenting black metal and with Cherry explaining how happy she was that the band were getting to play Damnation Festival twice, she was doing so to a room full of people that were just as ecstatic.

It’s been 13 years since Damnation Festival moved to Leeds University and it’s been 13 years since the UK thrash veterans Onslaught graced this very stage. Returning to the home of their Live At Damnation live album, the veterans delivered a thunderous set of thrash anthems with plenty of neck muscles getting a good workout in the crowd. Highlighting the diversity of music offered up to punters, our next port of call was the Tone MGMT stage where the atmospheric, serene sounds of French artist Sylvaine washed over a mesmerized crowd.

Paradise Lost @ Damnation Festival (Leeds, UK) on November 6, 2021

Sadly, logistics meant we missed Irish doom/black metal troop Conjurer who, by all accounts delivered a wall-shaking set while our visit to the main stage for the return of industrial masters Godflesh meant missing the black metal atmospherics of Winterfylleth. Having said that though, looking at the stream of fans heading to the small room for the Mancunians, there could not have been much room left by the time they took to the stage. Seeing industrial legends Godflesh in the flesh is something of a rarity and a bit of a catch for the Damnation team. The inspirational outfit doesn’t disappoint either with a retina-burning, eardrum battering set. With little time for pointless chat, the pair smashed through their machine-like fury with “Streetcleaner” wiping the floor with the crowd.

In an earlier chat with Damnation Festival organizer Gavin McInally, we were strongly advised to check out French post-black metal outfit Regarde Les Hommes Tomber on the Eyesore Stage and we’re glad we did. Promoting their incredible Ascencion album, the French band were suffocatingly heavy delivering their post-black metal with the kind of unwavering intensity and atmosphere that made their set one of the highlights of the day for many people.

“This album was released 30 years ago,” explains Paradise Lost vocalist Nick Holmes as an introduction to Gothic before joking, “hard to believe when you see how youthful we all look.” The Yorkshire gloom masters are in town playing a special set and, while hampered by technical difficulties, as they lumber through the likes of “Rapture” and “Shattered” from the doom masterpiece, it’s very clear that the material from one of British metal’s most iconic albums has stood the test of time. A quick return to the Eyesore Stage saw fans queuing to get into the room for a glimpse of atmospheric doom/sludge/drone Frenchmen Year of No Light who brought the stage to a suitably powerful finale.

Carcass @ Damnation Festival (Leeds, UK) on November 6, 2021

So, onto the final band of the night for us, Liverpool gore/grind legends Carcass. As we stroll into the main room for their return, the venue looks like an absolute warzone an indication that when organizers asked for “Leeds to be given the send-off it deserves,” the Damnation crowd did just that. Having not played live in almost two years, and with the new album Torn Arteries still hot on the shelves, the Liverpudlian legends were in fine form as they ripped through their set. Heralded as one of the most iconic extreme metal bands around, the quartet hurtled through the likes of “Incarnated Solvent Abuse,” “Exhume to Consume,” and “This Mortal Coil.”

An absolute joy to witness, the band plundered their genre-defining back catalogue for treaty morsels like “Genital Grinder” and “Corporal Jigsaw Quandry,” while Torn Arteries was represented with a splattering of cuts from the album including the brilliant “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” and “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing.” As their 14 song set ended, the realization came with it that this was going to be the last time the sounds of extreme metal would boom around the Leeds University campus so, with funeral doom titans Esoteric bringing the entire night to a groaning finale, this special night came to an emotional end.

In 2022, Damnation Festival returns to its new home at the BEC Arena in Manchester. That is still a long twelve months away giving plenty of time for fans, bands and Damnation organizers to look back on this night and many of the other unforgettable memories that Damnation Festival has had here in Yorkshire.

Damnation Festival Poster 2022

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.

Metal

Fit For a King and The Devil Wears Prada Crush Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom [Photos]

The “Metalcore Dropout Tour” hit Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom and Fit For a King, The Devil Wears Prada, Counterparts and Avoid brought the heat!

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Fit For a King on Feb 15, 2024, photo by Randy Romero
Fit For a King on Feb 15, 2024, photo by Randy Romero

The Commodore Ballroom became a Metalhead Institute the night of February 15th for the “Metalcore Dropout 2nd Semester” tour. The trek, headlined by Fit For a King and The Devil Wears Prada, included supporting acts Counterparts and added Avoid instead of Landmvrks, who were on the first leg of the tour.  

The Vancouverites were hungry for the lights, drums and growls from this lineup, something evident because a large majority of the crowd was at the venue to enjoy the opening act performed by Avoid. The Seattle natives delivered a substantial set that included some of their most popular songs like “Whatever,” “Cowabunga Can’t Take This Away,” and “Hostage at a Beach House Party.”

Counterparts opened their set with “Love Me,” the hit single from their 2019 Album Nothing Left to Love. Throughout the set, they played songs from all their albums, including A Eulogy for Those Still Here, the latest one, the one they played most songs from with a total of five, “07/26/2020,” “Bound to the Burn,” “Unwavering Vow,” “What Mirrors Might Reflect” and “Whispers of Your Death,” which they closed their performance with.

The crowd was euphoric, hands with the sign of the horns were all over the place, there was a huge mosh pit in the middle of the crowd and security had to help the crowd surfers to land safely in front of the stage.

When Fit For a King hit the stage the crowd went nuts, the band started their set with “End (The Other Side)” from their latest album The Hell We Create. The crowd was highly engaged with the band and sang each song word by word. In their set, they included their last single, released about a month ago, “Keeping Secrets,” and other fan favourites like “Breaking the Mirror,” “Vendetta,” “The End’s Beginning,and “When Everything Means Nothing.” They did a total of 14 songs, and if it weren’t for the time, the set would have been much longer.

What can be better than one headliner? Of course, 2. The Devil Wears Prada brought the perfect energy to the stage. Opening their set with “Exhibition” from their latest full-length project Color Decay Deluxe. Continuing with their set, the vocalist Mike Hranica encouraged the crowd surfers to be more active and sang a few of their big hits, including “Salt,” “Reasons,” “Dez Moines,” and “Broken,” closing with “Hey John, what’s your name again?” for a total of 13 songs.

We must highlight that both headliners praised the Vancouver crowd, calling them the best crowd of the entire tour yet and the best in Canada ever.

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Dragonforce Unveil Power Metal Reworking of Taylor Swift “Wildest Dreams” Hit

Dragonforce have put a power metal twist on Taylor Swift hit “Wildest Dreams” which you can check out here…

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DragonForce, photo by Travis Shinn
Dragonforce, photo by Travis Shinn

Dragonforce has unveiled an official video for their Taylor Swift cover, “Wildest Dreams (DragonForce’s Version)”, which is included as a bonus track on select editions of their upcoming album, Warp Speed Warriors, out on March 15th, 2024 via Napalm Records.

The Grammy-nominated unit has transformed the current reigning pop superstar’s huge hit into a lightning-fast power metal anthem, featuring the band’s signature guitar solos and sky-high vocals. Dragonforce’s version first caused a wave of buzz in the press and on social media after the band performed it live on their most recent North American tour.

Check out their blistering cover here:

Speaking about Warp Speed Warriors, guitarist Herman Li said:

“After four years of creative incubation, we are beyond excited to release what we believe to be our most ambitious and grandiose record yet. This album showcases multiple facets of our artistic abilities, and we invite metal aficionados from every corner of the genre to discover something captivating within its layers. We can’t wait to share this chapter of our musical journey with you, it’s going to be EPIC!”

Warp Speed Warriors Tracklisting:

1. Astro Warrior Anthem
2. Power of the Triforce
3. Kingdom of Steel
4. Burning Heart
5. Space Marine Corp
6. Doomsday Party
7. Prelude to Darkness
8. The Killer Queen
9. Pixel Prison

The band head out on tour starting next week with Amaranthe and Infected Rain before heading out on the Mutilation On A Spring Night US Tour with Dethklok and Nekrogoblin (with Babymetal joining on selected dates).

02/21 – Hamburg – Große Freiheit 36 – SOLD OUT!
02/22 – Berlin – Huxleys Neue Welt
02/23 – Leipzig – Haus Auensee
02/24 – Oberhausen – Turbinenhalle – Low Tickets!
02/25 – Tilburg – 013 Poppodium – SOLD OUT!
02/27 – Copenhagen – Amager Bio – SOLD OUT!
02/28 – Oslo – Sentrum Scene – SOLD OUT!
02/29 – Gothenburg – Trädgår’n – SOLD OUT!
03/03 – Riga – Melna Piektdiena
03/04 – Warsaw – Progresja
03/06 – Brno – Sono Centrum – SOLD OUT!
03/07 – Vienna – Gasometer
03/08 – Budapest – Barba Negra Red Stage
03/09 – Munich – TonHalle – Low Tickets!
03/10 – Milan – Live Club – Low Tickets!
03/12 – Madrid – Sala La Riviera
03/13 – Barcelona – Sala Apolo I
03/15 – Wiesbaden – Schlachthof – Low Tickets!
03/16 – Zurich – Komplex 457
03/17 – Brussels – AB Box
03/19 – Stuttgart – LKA Longhorn – Low Tickets
03/20 – Paris – Bataclan – Low Tickets!
03/22 – Bristol – O2 Academy – SOLD OUT!
03/23 – Manchester – Manchester Academy – SOLD OUT!
03/24 – London – The Roundhouse – Low Tickets!
(all dates with Amaranthe, Infected Rain)

04/07 – North Myrtle Beach, SC – House Of Blues
04/08 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore Charlotte
04/09 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring
04/11 – Columbus, OH, Kemba Live!
04/12 – Cincinnati, OH – The Andrew J Brady Music Center
04/14 – Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room At Old National Centre
04/15 – Waukee, IA – Vibrant Music Hall
04/16 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
04/17 – Oklahoma City, OK – Criterion
04/19 – Albuquerque, NM – Revel
04/20 – Flagstaff, AZ – Pepsi Amphitheater At Fort Tuthill Park
04/21 – Riverside, CA – Riverside Municipal Auditorium
04/22 – San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
04/24 – San Francisco, CA – The Masonic*
04/25 – San Francisco, CA – The Masonic*
04/28 – Spokane, WA – The Podium
04/30 – Billings, MT – Metrapark Arena
05/01 – Idaho Falls, ID – Mountain America Center
05/02 – Garden City, ID – Revolution Concert House
05/03 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
(all dates with Dethklok, Nekrogoblikon, Babymetal*)

Dragonforce release Warp Speed Warriors on March 15th, 2024 via Napalm Records and you can pre-order your copy here.

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While She Sleeps Share Emotional New Single “To The Flowers”

British metallers While She Sleeps have shared their emotional new single “To The Flowers” from their upcoming album ‘Self Hell’…

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While She Sleeps
While She Sleeps, press photo

British metal crew While She Sleeps have confirmed the March 29th release of their new album Self Hell. As showcased with visceral intent on the recent singles, the title track (check that out here) and “Down” (featuring Alex Taylor of Malevolence), the band’s ambitious approach is simple – make everything bigger and more unpredictable than ever before.

Continuing towards the release date, the band have now shared their new single, the emotive “To The Flowers”. The single sees the band continuing with their ethos opening with spoken words from the philosopher and spiritual leader Jiddu Krishnamurti, again heightening expectations for the boundary-breaking scope of the Self Hell album.

Guitarist Sean Long says,

“This song means a lot to us. As much as we love a good breakdown and heavy riff, a lot of our passion lies within emotive musical pieces. This song has nearly brought us all to tears multiple times simply because it touches something in us that we hold very dear. A pain we all know and have felt down to our deepest core. The essence of our personal pain expressed in music is what the band is all about. Talking about the things we know are difficult but necessary.”

The accompanying short film for “To The Flowers” – created and then shot by the band – more than matches the intensity of the song, playing out with kitchen sink realism and the cinematic atmospherics of an indie film. Check out the video here:

Vocalist Loz Taylor adds,

“‘To the Flowers’ is emotional, tragic and real life. We intended to make a short film that encompasses the real emotions of relationships, grief, love, death and pain. Shot by the members of While She Sleeps, ‘To the Flowers’ ebbs and flows through an entendre of tragedy. This was a huge project to undertake, and we have poured our creative energy into directing this piece. We had a wicked time working on the film. This will hit home.”

While She Sleeps release Self Hell on March 29th, 2024 and you can pre-order your copy here.

While She Sleeps ‘Self Hell’ Album Artwork

While She Sleeps ‘Self Hell’ Album Artwork

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