Category: Cancer


Festival date – 3rd November 2018

Words: Tim Finch/Matt D

Photos: Tim Finch

I’ve lost count of the number of years we’ve been covering Damnation Festival now. But it’s a testament to the festival’s organisation that year on year this event sells out. A stellar line-up of the twenty-seven bands across the four stages gives us a lot to see and talk about as the lovers of doom, metal and more gather again to the hallowed ground of Leeds University’s student union.


Birmingham necro punks Fukpig have been upgraded following a lengthy absence. Now a six piece with dual vocals there are less samples and more angsty guitars. The world has gone to shit and they are here to drive that point home. The Tone Mgmt stage is packed to the rafters and a sea of angry fans let rip as we are treated to ‘Dogshit Hair’, ‘Die Bastard’ and ‘Batcave Full of Bastards’. New song ‘Nuclear Pricks’ is thrown in for good measure in a wonderful start to the day.


Over on the Jagermeister stage we have death metal in its purist form. Cancer, the day after releasing their first album for 13 years, play the same stage once graced by Led Zeppelin. The old and new tracks meld perfectly together from ‘Cancer Fucking Cancer’ to ‘Down The Steps’. Their style is the same as it always was. On point death metal perfection.


Over on the Eyesore Merch stage, Canterbury’s OHHMS purvey their eccentric doom mastery opening with the 22-minute progressive marathon of ‘Subjects’ from their forthcoming album. Progressive wonderment is the best way to describe them a band whose music and live shows you can get fully lost in, taken away to a place far from the venue you are in. A set far too short at just 40 minutes, but fantastic all the same.


For the first time in four years Dave Hunt and Mick Kenney are back at Damnation Festival with Anaal Nathrakh and it’s a step up to the main stage for them. 


The most extreme brutal band on the bill today with anger borne out from the opening notes of Obscene as Cancer right the way through. Despite a multitude of technical problems, the crowd lap it up. New song Forward! destroys all before it just as epic live as on record and a wall of death like no other destroys not only the room but the fans within it.


After seeing Nathrakh essentially claim the Reflectory as theirs surely there’s potential for an hour-long slot in the future? Only time will tell…

From hearing Dave Hunt quoting 1984 to walking across the union and hearing Karin Park do operatic vocals might not be considered ‘the norm’ in other festivals but here it feels right at home as the perfect way for Arabrot to begin and as KN spreads their gospel it feels like a nice mix of post-punk and noise that brings to mind in places the great Mark E Smith interspersed with a beautiful combo of Karin singing Pygmalion and a duet between her and KN that’s the closest to a ballad anyone would hear that day.


On the Tone Mgmt stage, Batushka bring atmospherics and theatrics in abundance. A multitude of religious artifacts fills the stage, a pulpit, candles and a plinth upon which sits a sacred text. The low red lights hid in its shadows the band, figures dressed in cloaks, their faces hidden. Theatrically the show is similar to that of Ghost, with religious imagery running throughout but it’s the dark black metal sound that hits home. Eerie, cacophonous noise in abundance.


Front man of Emperor, Ihsahn returns to the UK for a one off solo show at today’s festival. Keeping the Black metal theme running, there are no theatrics to be seen. 


Ihsahn’s hour is all about the music, progressive, dark and oozing black metal feels. Musicianship of the highest quality and he and his band let that alone do the talking. One of the highlights of the day.

Tech metal mixed with progressive elements might not be something that the faithful of Damnation are used to but Monuments were going to damn well give it a try and with a set that was fully laden with groove it’s not hard to see why by about the third song in the room was close to capacity as Chris Baretto had the biggest smile on his face as he encouraged circle pits, a jumpthefuckup and even quoted Scottish based memes (the one with the mum telling off the daughters for not flushing the toilet in case you were wondering!)

With a room that was about 75% new fans you can be assured this won’t be the last time you’ll see Monuments and maybe even some of their peers at Damnation.


Vader return to the UK following a tour back in March, for a headline slot of the Tone Mgmt stage of the festival. Leather clad Piotr growls in anger as the band destroy the arena. His and Marek’s duelling guitars deliver excellence in the extreme, riff after riff, song after song. Demonstrating why they have been given the headline slot they are a fantastic way to close the stage.


Closing the Eyesore Merch stage the day after releasing their latest album onto the world is The Ocean whose set becomes one of the most talked about due to the high energy of vocalist Loic as he encourages pits and even stage dives into the crowd – twice! With a mixture of tracks from Precambrian – including the track Caleb Scofield performed on: Orosirian: For the Great Blue Cold Now Reigns – Pelagial and Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic sounding as powerful as evolution itself it shows why they are a strong headliner. Let’s do this again in two years when Phanerozoic II comes out shall we? Would be fun!


Closing out the day as a whole on the Jagermeister stage are Brummie noise mongers Napalm Death. Barneys dashing figure greeting us in a Tasmanian like whirlwind as they power through Instinct of Survival. Ever delivering a semi-political message between songs, Barney’s preaching resonates with the fans, as does the music. The fans wanting more aggression following Nathrakh earlier in the day they are treated to ‘When All is Said and Done’, ‘Scum’, ‘You Suffer’ and of course ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’.


A fantastic way to close the festival which for the 14th time has yet again been a complete success. Every stage for every band was packed, crowd management improves year on year as does the line-up and overall organisation. This festival is, and will continue to be, the best way to close out the year and with 2019 tickets going on sale – to the point that they beat the record set when Bolt Thrower was announced a few years ago – with organisers saying the headliner is the biggest band ever booked for the festival it’s going to be VERY exciting to see what the next year brings!


It’s that great time of the year once more when we all gather towards Leeds to take in the mixture of metal, doom, post rock and more that is Damnation and with nine exclusives – including one UK live debut – this year, the high standard that proves why Damnation is one of the best festivals going today still remains large.

What follows is both Matt D and Tim’s picks on who to catch at Damnation this year… 

Matt D

To begin my picks let us start with a slice of tech with Monuments who are making their Damnation debut and are one of the bands that were part of the tech metal boom a number of years ago with the likes of Periphery and others. With new album Phronesis about to make an impact, it will be interesting to see how it all goes down with the Damnation audience.

Next is Norwegian art rockers Arabrot who are also making their Damnation debut in 2018 and for me could be a potential show stealer. Following their excellent The Gospel album there’s been shows in which Kjetil Nernes has worked with writer John Doran as the latter reads poems/rituals such as Lacerated Sky plus a special immersive show in Stoke based around the Japanese short ‘A Page of Madness’ and now it is time for the Damnation faithful to experience the fun for themselves…

For the doom lovers this next pick will hit the spot with Bong who no doubt will have a set that will define a pure experience as their combination of doom/drone and stoner has the potential to truly open the third eye of anyone that views the true psychedelic trip.

The final two picks are linked as they’re both veterans of Damnation itself and are both getting their biggest slots to date at the event: The Ocean and Anaal Nathrakh.

Regarding The Ocean it’s from a small room in 2010 to headlining the Eyesore Merch stage and with a great catalogue (including Precambrian hitting its 10th anniversary) including showcasing live the brand new album (released the day before Damnation on November 2nd!) Phanerozoic I: Paleozoic – with part 2 out in a couple of years – it’s a Damnation moment in the making.

Speaking of which – possibly doing their biggest show to date in the grand hall that is the Reflectory – are Anaal Nathrakh and for those that have yet to see the greatness of a Nathrakh show – this will be one not to miss as not only will it be the first show since the release of A New kind of Horror but the only chance to catch them as 2018 comes to a close.


As ever Damnation festival returns this year with a line up stronger than ever. Gav and his team work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure the one day extreme festival is Leeds is the very best of its kind in the UK.

Having had the full bill announced for a good month now, I look on admiringly at the achievement of a line up. It’s hard to pick who my favourites are, but here’s a selection of five bands not to be missed!


The death metal stalwarts will be playing the Jager stage this year in a UK exclusive show and with a brand new album, their first for thirteen years, due for release the day prior to their appearance. They are the UK’s finest purveyors of traditional death metal and the trio of Ian, Carl and John will put on one hell of a show. 


The reunion of the band is one of the most talked about and anticipated additions to this year’s bill. The masked Birmingham necro punks bring their dirty sound and lyrical hatred of the world to Leeds again. The last time they played the festival they destroyed it, quite literally. Expect the most volatile of mosh pits and the most violent of performances. If you have never seen them these are not to be missed and if you have seen them previously, I know I’ll be seeing you in the pit again!


Poland’s biggest music export started the year touring the UK with Testament on a sell out run of dates and will finish it with an appearance at Damnation Festival. Piotr’s throaty vocal girth accompanied by his and Marek’s duelling guitars will deliver excellence in the extreme and no doubt a performance on par with that of Cancer before them. For fans of Star Wars look out for the tribute at the end of the set 😉

(Video for Sword of The Witcher:


Nathrakh are another band with a new album out. Opinions are mixed on the new
material, but my own personal view is that the album is phenomenal. Look for a
mix of material old and new during their set and a heavy cross over of
personnel from Fukpig. Deathly growls and dirty looks from Dave Hunt will be in
abundance and fully anticipate a crowd as wild as Fukpig’s just on a bigger


headliners Napalm Death are without doubt the booking of the festival. Through
decades of aggression the band have gone from strength to strength. No longer
the small cult grind band they once were their music has far greater appeal
these days, despite the band themselves not changing direction at all. Shane,
Barney and the gang are the perfect way to close the day and with a later
curfew this year things could get messy!

(Video for When All is Said and Done:

Damnation Festival 2018 completes its line up with death, doom, progressive metal and more – topped by CANCER celebrating 30 years!

Cancer said: “We are are thrilled to be included on the bill at Damnation Festival, especially as it is our 30th year since our formation and will coincide with the release of our new album Shadow Gripped, to be released by Peaceville Records.  We will be debuting some new songs from the album as playing some of our old favourites.”

Also added are Monuments, Vola, Bong, Hundred Year Old Man and making their UK DEBUT – Lik.

With a day that includes EIGHTEEN debuts for Damnation and eight of the twenty seven bands being UK EXCLUSIVES such as Ihsahn, Batushka, Celeste and of course headlined by Napalm Death – make sure you don’t miss out:

Tickets, priced £43, are on sale now from and

Peaceville, the label known for its enviable death metal heritage, from the early days of Paradise Lost and Autopsy, to At The Gates & Vital Remains, through to Opeth, Bloodbath and Akercocke; is proud to announce the signing of the UK legends of death metal, Cancer, for their new album, set for release late 2018.

“We are delighted to have signed a recording deal with such an esteemed label as Peaceville. We have full confidence that they understand this metal and Cancer as a band. Together we want to deliver an album that celebrates our 30-year existence and the old school death metal sound that we played a part in creating back in 1988 when the band was conceived. So rejoice and hoist the bunting fashioned from flaps of skin, and fill your balloons with the last gasp of a dying man! We are back from the dead. CFC”