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Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 10th September 2015 by Pieni

Five Finger Death Punch
“Got Your Six”
Release: 4th September 2015
Via Prospect Park
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I confess I was taken aback by the level of… restraint in the new Five Finger Death Punch album, and not in a good way. But after listening to it a few times, “Got Your Six” has grown on me. The more melodic approach I, at first, saw as shallow is actually a refinement process.

The band’s respect for the USA army is well known so I was surprised that it took them so long to name an album after a military expression. And given its strong meaning, it’s also natural that “Got Your Six”, the opening track, is one of those songs that you immediately identify as Five Finger Death Punch’s when you first hear it. The punching beat (no pun intended), the fluid guitars… somewhat less aggressive than usual, but it still has the band’s trademark sound all over it.

“Jekyll And Hyde” is intense rather than brisk, the drums in the chorus almost like a hypnotic mantra and the “oyoyo!” a clear invitation to sing-along. It was on the next track, “Wash It All Away”, that the doubt started to bite, as I found the chorus way too much pop-ish. The main riff is quite melodic too, but in a way that will win you over immediately. The catchiness of the chorus eventually triumphs and you realize how good this song actually is, but it takes a while. Pretty much the same with “Question Everything”, where somberness and heaviness take turns as the leading role of the melody. Once again, not really an edgy song, but very well written. And the acoustic solo is stellar!

You’ll find plenty of edginess on “No Sudden Movement” though, so it’s not like they dismissed the fast lane completely. And the cranking guitars on both “Meet My Maker” and “Hell To Pay” bear that dear ol’ feisty spirit of 5FDP – not to mention “Boots And Blood”, an ode to the F word. It’s only “Ain’t My Last Dance” and the ballad “My Nemesis” that I’m still struggling with, both being somewhat too average for my taste (and the sudden change of pace in the chorus of the first doesn’t feel right to me). The other ballad, “Digging My Own Grave”, may not be exactly spectacular, but the seductiveness of its melody will linger in your ears.

“Got Your Six” is definitely Five Finger Death Punch’s more polished album so far and that’s why one might be skeptical. But give it a couple of tries and you’ll see how toning down the rage isn’t that bad after all.


By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Casainhos Fest 2015

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th September 2015 by Pieni

Mata-Ratos, Angelus Apatrida, Devil In Me, Simbiose, Hills Have Eyes, Reality Slap, Viralata, Tales For The Unspoken, Backflip, Dimension, Artigo 21, As They Come
S.C.Casainhos, Loures (PT)
29th August 2015
Promoter: Tiago Fresco

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Casainhos is a small village in the central region of Portugal (less than an hour to the north of Lisbon) that has been holding this commendable festival since 2012 – more than supporting/promoting the underground scene, it brings together its different subgenres, showing how metal, punk and hardcore are all part of a big, happy family. Like Poli (Dimension, Devil In Me) would say, a festival for open-minded people, people who won’t judge you, whether you’re wearing black or pink.

Stoner/Southern rockers As They Come opened this year’s edition, at 3:30 p.m. sharp. The punctuality at this fest gets another thumbs-up, by the way. And it proved that 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time for intermission between sets.

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Despite the unholy heat, As They Come fans were restless. After all, most of them had contributed to the band’s presence at the festival, by voting in a contest promoted by Rock On Música music shop – the same shop that got a bus and organized a roadtrip from São João da Madeira to Casainhos. Singer Sick Danny even dedicated the last song, “50 Miles”, to the shop owner Vitinha, who was then carried by the crowd. Soon afterwards, that crowd would invade the stage to party up there with As They Come. The fest could have hardly begun in a better way.

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Punk rockers Artigo 21 came next and they also had a fair share of fans singing along songs such as “Contradição” (contradiction) or “Espera Por Mim” (wait for me). The band is somewhat recent (2012) but the musicians aren’t exactly kids – at some point, when tuning a guitar took a little longer and someone in the audience complained, one of them said something like “take it easy, we’re old people”. On a more serious note, they announced that bassist Aureo had just become a father, to which everybody applauded. All the best to him and his family!

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Another new band featuring veteran members is Dimension. Groovy hardcore “straight outta the nineties” – and for those who grew up in that decade, Poli dedicated the Sepultura cover “Slave New World”. But that was just a bonus, as their original songs, taken from the debut “Life Is A Mystery”, were enough to win the crowd over, proving the band’s worth both on stage and in the studio.

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Backflip play a more straight-forward hardcore, with a female lead singer that kicks as much ass as any guy in the same position. Not sure when they were formed, but they’ve played in all editions of Casainhos so far, and their EP “New Ticket, New Journey” was released in 2011, so they’ve been around at least since then. The debut self-titled full-length saw the light of day in 2013 and features a few guests from other great underground bands, but that afternoon it was the crowd who helped Inês Oliveira (and guitarist Pedro Morais and bassist João Vidigal) sing along.

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Tales For The Unspoken, on the other hand, had Raça from Revolution Within sharing the stage with them and singing “Taken”, from the band’s second album “CO2”. Their mix of thrash and death and groove metal kept the moshers busy. “CO2” was released in April, so they focused the set on it, but revisited the debut “Alchemy” with “Say My Name” and the usual closing theme “N’Takuba Wena”.

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Back to punk rock, Viralata took the stage. A few problems with Ulisses’ guitar cable delayed the show for a few minutes, leading the singer to joke “what a grand start-up”. Their music is great, but it’s the lyrics – amusing as hell – that make them so popular, meaning that if you don’t speak Portuguese, you’ll miss the essence of Viralata. But if you were there, you’d certainly be carried away by the high spirits of both band and crowd. There was even a fan who climbed on stage and sang the lyrics to “Carocho” (if memory serves me well), totally unexpected but welcomed by the band. Huge fun!

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Hardcore act Reality Slap latest album, “Necks & Ropes”, dates from 2012 but the band’s been working hard on its successor, hoping to release it this year still. Singer Johnny (or at least I think that’s his name – guys, please add who does what in the band in your Facebook page!) said something about not playing live in a while, but either “a while” is a little less than four months to him, or he meant playing in national territory, as the band toured through a few European countries last Spring. Whatever the case, this return to the stages was flawless, and when Johnny jumped to the middle of the crowd, pointing the mike to the fans, many were eager to take on the singer’s role.

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Despite the rich bill of the festival, I confess it was only Hills Have Eyes that made me ride those 190 miles. So I won’t say their concert was the best, as more than presumptuous it would sound biased; but since I had people coming to me in the end – people who had never seen HHE before, despite their +10-year career – saying that now they understood why I liked that band so much, that I had good taste in music, it’s not the fangirl but the reporter that tells you WHAT A HELL OF A SHOW! This was probably the last gig before the release of their third album, “Antebellum”, scheduled for this month, but still only the first single “The Bringer Of Rain” was performed. The title-track of the previous album, “Strangers”, closed their set.

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From the metalcore of Hills Have Eyes, the festival moved on to the crust/metal/punk of Simbiose. Formed in 1991, it was the band on the bill with the longest career, after headliners Mata-Ratos (the latter born in 1982). “Trapped” is the title of their latest, sixth album (released in March) and songs such as “Ignorância Colectiva” (collective ignorance), “Acabou A Crise, Começou A Miséria!” (the crisis is over, the affliction has started) or “Modo Regressivo” (regressive mode) are some of the new tunes – with the same old social and political critique – that were part of one of the most brutal sets of the fest.

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Devil In Me are among the high-rank Portuguese hardcore bands and it will only take a couple of songs for you to understand why. Once again, Poli brought up the open-mindedness (and lack of it) subject, and staying true to one’s self – how he still loved hardcore now, as a grown man and family man, as much as when he was 15. Adding how much he missed his daughter that night, he invited all parents present to come up front and party. It seems that their new album will be out in October (“Soul Rebel”), but the title-track has been performed live several times now and everybody knew how to scream the chorus verse: “soul rebel… like a lion”.

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Angelus Apatrida was the only non-Portuguese band of the fest, old school thrash metal from “country next door” Spain. But they’re part of the family, not just for the solid fan-base they’ve built here over the past years but also for recording a couple of albums here, at Ultrasound Studios, and becoming good friends with many local underground bands. One of the most notorious is Switchtense and singer Hugo Andrade even got on stage to sing “Fresh Pleasure” with Guillermo Izquierdo. Whether they were songs from the new album “Hidden Evolution” or oldies like “Vomitive” or “Give ‘Em War”, the circle pits were as restless as the thrash that was fueling them.

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A lot of people left after Angelus Apatrida – not exactly because Mata-Ratos aren’t good at what they do (hardcore punk) but because they haven’t released anything new in eight years, and after eleven bands, half of them performing  while the sun burnt at an average of 86ºF, it became easy to dismiss the headliners. But there was still a good handful of survivors, ready to scream their lungs out at classics like “C.C.M.”, “A Minha Sogra É Um Boi” (my mother-in-law is a cow) or “Deus, Pátria E Família” (God, homeland and family).

According to the promoters, circa 800 people attended this fest. Don’t think any had a single reason to be disappointed. I hope this fest will continue to thrive and many more editions will follow. I also hope every country has someone committed to their underground scene like we have Tiago Fresco and his crew here (among others) in Portugal.

Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

Gallery on our Facebook page here.

Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 28th August 2015 by Pieni

“Under The Red Cloud”
Melodic metal
Release: 4th September 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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First thing you need to know – in case you’ve missed both singles “Death Of A King” and “Sacrifice” – is that Amorphis are still on the melodic metal path. Touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” was just that – a celebration of the past. They’re not returning to the death-ish doom of those early days, although the melancholy is still there in full (as it’s always been). Mind that I’m not complaining; personally, I prefer this smoother approach. I just thought I should warn the old school fans who went bananas with the aforementioned tour. I will complain, though, about the somewhat disappointing album that “Under The Red Cloud” turned out to be, regardless its genre.

The opening title-track is quite good, the keys combined with the guitars building that typical Amorphis atmosphere. The riffs and Tomi Joutsen’s growls make a hell of a chorus and the song eventually sticks to your brain. But sadly, that doesn’t happen much more throughout the rest of the album.

“The Four Wise Ones” has some spirit to it, having the faster and heavier rhythm. “Death Of A King” was a brilliant choice for single, as the sound that Amorphis got us used to is played in Arabic variations and the result is positively interesting. As for “Sacrifice”… well, that’s more radio-friendly and probably why it was released as a single. Apart from an elaborate guitar solo, its composition is not very impressive. The folkish “Tree Of Ages”, that features Eluveitie-Chrigel Glanzmann playing flute, is pretty catchy and I guess that “White Night” may stand out for the participation of Aleah Standbridge, although the song itself is a bit dull. And that’s about it. It’s not that “Under The Red Cloud” is a bad album, but there’s something missing to make it a great one. The everyday fan of the band will probably enjoy this, but the most demanding music lovers will sense that “lack of something”.


Renata “Pieni” Lino

Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 18th August 2015 by Pieni

“The Ride Majestic”
Melodic death metal
Release: 28th August 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Soilwork haven’t had the need to prove themselves to me for a long time now. After albums such as “Figure Number Five”, “Stabbing The Drama” or the previous “The Living Infinite”, they’ve achieved a solid rank on my list of bands. But I confess I didn’t think they could impress me more either. Well I’m biting my tongue right now.

The richness in details was taken to the next level and the result is a classy mix of extreme rhythms with vibrant melodies. The first title track (yes, first – there are two, although the second adds “(Aspire Angelic)”, to make the difference) is the bridge between “The Ride Majestic” and “The Living Infinite”, given the similarity in riffs and licks. If you listen to one album after the other, this track makes a smooth, natural transition between them. Because “Alight The Aftermath” will then sound like an outburst of power; way faster, way heavier, way darker.

“Death In General”, on the other hand, is the least heavy track (which doesn’t necessarily mean light). Its composition is too enthralling and seductive, the drums achieving a tribal beat on a couple of occasions, and Mr. Speed showing he can do whatever he wants with his voice.

The bluesy intro of “Enemies In Fidelity”, which underlines some further parts in an otherwise thrash/death composition. The earworm-ish chorus and break of “Petrichor By Sulphur”. The epic, extreme piece that “The Phantom” is through and through (definitely my favorite). The sharpness of “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)”, in contrast with the gloominess of “Whirl Of Pain”. A gloominess that continues on “All Along Echoing Paths” but at a heavier pace. The mosher-friendly of “Shining Lights”, featuring a massive guitar work. And the deep grand finale of “Father And Son Watching The World Go Down”. Eleven new tracks, all majestic indeed.


Renata “Pieni” Lino

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 3rd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th August 2015 by Pieni

Ironwsword, Bloodbath, Overkill, Orphaned Land, Alestorm, Ne Obliviscaris, Midnight Priest
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
9th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Last year, Prime Artists added one more day to the festival and the change was meant to stay. So here we were, on the third, last and more diverse day of Vagos Open Air 2015.

Personally, I still see Midnight Priest as an Iron Maiden and Judas Priest rip-off, but whether the crowd thought the same or not, they didn’t seem to care, banging those heads to songs like “Into The Nightmare” or “Rainha da Magia Negra” (Black Magic Queen). It’s a festival, a party, and they’re making copy+paste of some legendary riffs, so not even the broken high pitches of singer Lex Thunder ruined the mood. It was the shortest set of the day and it finished with “À Boleia Com o Diabo” (Hitchhiking with the Devil).

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Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris are touring the world thanks to a crowdfunding but I didn’t know so many of their fans came from Portugal – besides the wild crowd they had during the show, the signing session/meet & greet lasted more than the one-hour gig itself! I guess the guys from down under were just as surprised, but obviously happy. And it was deserved. Their extreme prog is exquisite and seductive enough to stand out from the other bands on the bill, but then the way they performed it – even in hot daylight – was more than enthralling to everyone who’s into that kind of music. And some of them had the chance to hold singer/violinist Tim Charles on the last song, “And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope”, as he jumped into the crowd and crowdsurfed.  Promising to come back as soon as possible, they all left the stage smiling.

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The original bill featured Halestorm and, as I think I’ve told you before, here in Portugal we like stronger stuff. There was a lot of moaning on how they should bring Alestorm instead. Then Halestorm had to cancel – not sure why and don’t really care, as cancelling a gig due to “a scheduling conflict” sounds like a poor excuse, and therefore disrespectful to their fans – and the “bring Alestorm, you only have to remove the H!” request was all over the place. And Prime Artists answered the call! The Scottish pirates (who claim coming from the “darkest depths of the Caribbean”) came and conquered with their inebriating (yeah, pun intended) folk. Talking about how they could sense our smell when introducing “The Famous Ol’ Spiced” or how they weren’t here to steal our potatoes but to drink our beer (“Drink”), this was probably the happiest show of the whole fest.

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Orphaned Land

I’ve seen Orphaned Land a few times and know how popular they are here, but still Kobi Farhi felt the need to explain to the crowd that he wasn’t Jesus Christ, he only looked like him. In fact, he couldn’t be Jesus as he wasn’t a virgin and made a lot of sex.  After such a fun gig of Alestorm, so much different from the soberer Middle Eastern metal of Orphaned Land, I guess an ice-breaking remark like this was needed, but Kobi always has something amusing to say. Not sure which song he introduced by singing some The Doors verse, but that early evening we could hear oldies such as “Sapari”, “In Thy Never Ending Way” or “Norra El Norra” mixed with more recent ones like “All Is One”, “Let The Truce Be Known” or “The Simple Man” (the latter dedicated to us). All with a lot of clapping-to-the-rhythm and sing-alongs. Beautiful concert, so the news of an upcoming acoustic tour, which will include Portugal, was more than welcome.

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Thrash metal returned to Vagos in the form of Overkill – our “ugly cousins from New Jersey”, as Bobby Blitz himself described them. They indeed have a solid, crazy fan-base here – fans that make Bobby feel like he’s fifty again. Yes, fifty, not fifteen – he’s not only a top thrash metal singer and owner of a chocolate shop, he’s also a humorist. The chosen tracks to represent their latest “White Devil Armory” were “Armorist” and “Bitter Pill”; the rest were the usual classics such as “Necroshine”, “In Union We Stand”, “Rotten To The Core”, “Horrorscope”, “Hello From The Gutter”… I confess that after the little speech about brotherhood, my brain whispered “bastard nation” when Bobby said “’cause we are”, but the sentence finished with “Ironbound” after all. I wonder if I’ll ever hear “Bastard Nation” live ever again. The gig finished with the mandatory “Fuck You”, and just like three years before (see here), Bobby provoked us with “is this Portugal or España?”, when he wanted to hear us louder. And just like in that other V.O.A. edition – in fact like every time someone tells us such words – it worked.

If you’re one of those who saw Nick Holmes joining Bloodbath with very skeptical eyes, it’s about time to dismiss that feeling: the guy is definitely up to it! I had the confirmation with the release of “Grand Morbid Funeral” last November, but the ultimate trial by fire is always on stage. And when you’re a Paradise Lost fan for about 20 years, like I am, you also know that it may take you a couple of shows to get that proof, as Nick’s mood affects his performance proportionally.

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But as soon as “Old Nick” addressed the audience, by the way he said “We’re Bloodbath from Sweden and Yorkshire. I’m the one from Yorkshire” I could tell he was in an excellent mood, meaning he would also excel in this show. And he did. Bloodbath played a little something from the four albums they’ve released so far, pleasing old and new fans, and giving Nick the chance to show how the songs once sung by Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Tägtgren weren’t lessened at all by his vocal tone and skills. “Eaten” and “Cry My Name” were the encore of the probably most brutal gig of Vagos 2015.

It’s not easy for an underground band to wrap up a festival with so many international famous names. Many people left after Bloodbath, but many also stayed to see national heavy metal veterans Ironsword. Along with Filii Nigrantium Infernalium the previous night, they were also special guests in this festival, and once more I believe it was anniversary related – the band celebrated their 20th this year. But also have a new album out, “None But The Brave”, released last May, which their setlist was pretty focused on. In the end of its title-track, singer/guitarist Tann said something about how we were entitled to a special version of this new song, but since I’m not that familiar with their work, I don’t know if it was really some “special version” or if someone messed up and they had to improvise. Whatever the case, they did good and some vigorous fans screamed IRONSWORD, IRONSWORD!”. “Burning Metal” wasn’t just the last song but also the description of the show.

And it was over. Three days that seemed to last forever and, at the same time, so quickly went by. That’s how good memories feel like, I suppose. Well, let the preparations for Vagos 2016 begin!

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th August 2015 by Pieni

Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, Venom, Black Label Society, Triptykon, Destruction, Mutant Squad, W.A.K.O.
Quinta do Ega, vagos (PT)
8th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Black Label Society

The second day of Vagos Open Air was the heaviest in sound and numbers. Saturdays are always prone to attract more people, but I’m pretty sure it was the names on the bill that gathered so many metalheads

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If memory serves me well, I hadn’t seen W.A.K.O. in four years. Not that they’ve inactive all that time, no. I just haven’t had the chance to see them lately. And damn, what I’ve been missing! Sure, the aforementioned gig I attended at Hard Club was a killer (no pun intended – did I mention that W.A.K.O. stands for We Are Killing Ourselves?), but this one at Vagos was simply devastating! As well as the mosh circles the crowd put up restlessly, from the opener “Abyss” to the closing “The Shadows Collapse Within”. Any thumbs-down? Sure – too short. Such a show deserved to last longer.

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Mutant Squad

Next, from country next door, came Mutant Squad. Straight-forward thrash metal always works when played live, whether you’re familiar with the band or not (which I think was the case of many in the crowd). The Spanish continued fuelling the mosh frenzy that W.A.K.O. had started with songs from their debut full-length “Titanomakhia”, and also one (“Remember”) from the 2012 EP “Social Misfits”. Using a few Portuguese curse words also helped them winning over the crowd, as well as praising the W.A.K.O. gig and their guitarist Pedro Mendes. The set ended with “Mutants Will Rise”, but before leaving the stage, singer/guitarist Pla announced they’d return to Portugal in November, for the Mosher clothing fest, and the people seemed happy about it.

The thrashing went on in a much more old-school vein. Both previous bands had a pretty packed crowd waiting for them, but Destruction had an army! The action on and off stage lived up to the band’s name. This is another band that hasn’t released anything new in three years (the Saxon cover on “The Big Teutonic 4” split can’t obviously count) but whose presence in this or any other festival is more than justified, as their performances are what live shows are all about. Even when the sound goes down… Not sure what happened, but at some point closer to the end, only the drums were audible. As the band played on, I believe they still heard what they were doing on stage, but we didn’t. One thing I noticed and appreciated was that no one booed – they did cry out in disappointment, but not in angry accusation, understanding that this kind of thing happens. Eventually the sound came back, its volume still on a rollercoaster ride, but everything was back to normal when Schmier announced the last song “Bestial invasion”.

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Triptykon stirred another kind of turmoil – an emotional one. Although the crowdsurfers kept the security guys busy during the black metal parts that spice the doom nature of the band. Thomas Gabriel Fischer was particularly talkative and clearly happy to be there – the “it’s so good to be back” that we so often hear seemed honest. They played an excellent gloomy show that I just wished was a bit more Triptykon and less Celtic Frost. They have two great full-length albums, why dwell in past bands? One song would be enough, for old times sake – that I understand. But three? Plus a Hellhammer cover (“Messiah”) that Celtic Frost already used to cover – as Hellhammer was the band Thomas and Martin Ain were in before Celtic Frost. Even the “are you morbid?” expression was used that night. A flawless and enthralling performance, yes, but a little too much “double identity” for my personal taste.

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Black Label Society

Even though not closing the bill, Black Label Society were the headliners – the number of people waiting for Zakk Wylde (with no disrespect for the other musicians, just stating the truth) left no doubt about that. Not even the 20-minute delay (that wasn’t apologized for or explained) seemed to bother the fans. But then again, those same fans go bananas with Wylde’s 20-minute solos, so we clearly don’t agree on several things.
The show was impeccable, no one can say otherwise. There’s a reason why Wylde is considered such a guitar god and that reason was palpable that night. But like everything in life, when you’re not drinking your cup of tea… I’ve heard more than one person complaining about the extensive guitar work, but come on, that’s what Wylde does! That’s what his fans where there to see and that’s what they got. Now the “lesser fans”… well, not even guitar gods can please everyone. He didn’t talk much, except when introducing the band – he talked A LOT then, although I didn’t understand half of it, given that Southern accent of his (that I’m still trying to figure out where he got it from, as the guy was born and raised in New Jersey…). I did understand clearly the “We love you Dimebag!” at the end of “In This River”.

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Only now, as writing this, did I realize that the oldest band of the bill was the only with material released in 2015. Funny. Not that it mattered that much, as Venom didn’t focus on that new album, “From The Very Depths”. If I’m correct, only “Rise” and “Long Haired Punks” were played. But we’re talking about a band that was founded 36 years ago and has released killer black/speed hits ever since – there’s no such thing as promoting an album nowadays, only mingling a couple of new tracks with a roll of classics.
Despite the late hour, and after so many mosh-friendly bands, the circle pits were back in full, matching the violence that the trio “out of Hell” unleashed.

There was still one more band left, “special guests” Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, who, as the name indicates, play black metal. For over two decades now. This year their debut EP “A Era do Abutre” (The Vulture’s Era) turned 20 years and they played a few shows to celebrate it. I believe they were invited to Vagos precisely for that anniversary. Still, black metal isn’t for everybody and the crowd wasn’t as big when they got on stage. And then there were those who wished they had left, as a desperate voice started screaming “go away, please!” at some point. Everybody – band included – laughed, but as the following song was “Morte Geométrica” (geometric death), singer/guitarist Belathauzer introduced it by saying that death wasn’t a bad thing, some people deserved death. Sounded to me like it was aimed at someone specific… The gig ended with “Labirito” (labyrinth), dedicated to “all our families”.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Thanks to Hugo Delgado for the memory card.

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 1st day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th August 2015 by Pieni

Within Temptation, Amorphis, Heaven Shall Burn, Vildhjarta, Moonshade, Scar For Life
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
7th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Within Temptation

There’s a handful of great metal festivals in Portugal, but Vagos Open Air is the one that focus on international acts (without disregarding the local ones) and reaches out to a broader, not always so-extreme audience. This year we even had Within Temptation headlining the first day, while Bloodbath had the honor of doing so on the third. And if you’ve read some of my previous articles, you might know how one of my favorite quotes is “diversity is the spice of life”.

It was precisely due to Within Temptation’s busy schedule that the festival was anticipated one hour. I don’t know why they simply didn’t swap slots with Amorphis – it’s not like they’d lose the headliner status – but in the end I was glad they didn’t. Vagos is a somewhat windy town, but this year one could drop the “somewhat” out of the sentence. And add cold. So that extra hour in the sun was more than welcome, for a change.

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Not sure if Scar For Life share my opinion though. But then again, despite their 7-year-old career and 4-album discography, they’re not exactly the most popular alternative/groovy metal band around here – even if they’d got on stage at 5 p.m., as originally announced, I doubt there would be a lot more people attending their show. And then they had some sound problems, which may have (or may have not…) led singer Rob Mancini to go often out of tune, and the crowd eventually got even scarcer. It’s a shame, really.

Moonshade, on the other hand, proved worthy of V.O.A.’s stage. “A small band”, as singer Ricardo Pereira described themselves, when thanking the crowd for coming and seeing them, but with a good live posture and performance. I was at the release party of their latest EP (see here), so I knew what to expect; still, it was a positive surprise to see how well it worked in a less intimate atmosphere and before such a more numerous audience.

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I was a little puzzled by Vildhjarta’s presence in this festival. A Meshuggah-like band who hasn’t released anything new in two years nor have near-future plans except for a vinyl edition of their only full-length “Måsstaden”. An experimental metal band who doesn’t even appear to play live that much, Brutal Assault in Czech Republic and Vagos itself apparently being the only dates this year. I guess that “little puzzled” is an understatement after all. But you know what? The crowd loved them! What I and many were skeptical about ended up in a big party, not only for the exquisite music but for the amusing guys who performed it. One of them – not sure if Vilhelm or Mynd – asking if we’d like some tea was kind of priceless.

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Heaven Shall Burn

But it was Heaven Shall Burn who swept Vagos off its feet. Literally. The moshers and crowdsurfers had a field day. And the screamers too, as I believe this was the show with the loudest chorus sing-alongs in songs such as “Forlorn Skies”, the Edge Of Sanity cover of “Black Tears” or “Like Gods Among Mortals”. 15 years had passed since the last (and actually first) time the Germans had played in Portugal but as soon as singer Marcus Bischoff announced “Voice Of The Voiceless”, the fans knew exactly what to do and aligned for a wall of death, with no need for further instructions.  Still regarding that first show, it seemed that no one had been there. Well, almost no one. One hand was raised when Marcus asked about it, joking then with the guy in response “oh yeah, you’re old enough”. But they also had the “youngest metal fan”, a 6-year-old kid who they called on stage close to the end. The kid was a bit confused, but headbanged his long hair here and there, marking the cutest moment of the whole festival.

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Amorphis‘ show was as brilliant as HSB’s, but on another kind of level – whereas the Germans exceled in adrenaline, the Finns did it in intensity. The main reason is, obviously, the nature of each band, but the fact that Amorphis were celebrating 20 years of the legendary “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” added an unmatched emotional weight. Performed in its entirety in such a flawless, heartfelt way, you even forgot that Tomi Joutsen wasn’t the singer who recorded the album. The setlist was completed by a couple of songs from the very first “The Karelian Isthmus” (“Signs From The North Side” and “Vulgar Necrolatry”) and the most classic tracks from “Elegy”.

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Within Temptation

Then Within Temptation soothed the moods down. Well, the “most metal” fans’ moods that is. The ones who liked the band were quite hyped by the pop-ish vibrancy of the Dutch. As headliners, they had enough time to promote their latest album, “Hydra”, and still visit all the others (except for the debut “Enter”, which I doubt they’ll ever play again, given the so much different style). One of the old ones was “Memories”, that Sharon den Adel said they hadn’t played in a long while and liked to dedicate to us. Among the newest we could hear “Paradise (What About Us?)”, “Dangerous” and “Covered By Roses”, and the Lana Del Rey cover of “Summertime Sadness”. No, not a metal gig, but that proverbial expression “they rocked!” was brought to life. Plus, Sharon is still able to jump around and sing at the same time without missing a note, not to mention the interaction she engages on with the crowd. So give it up, haters. It was a good show, that ended with the mandatory “Ice Queen”.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.


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