Kreator, Epica, Soilwork, Sylosis, Kandia, Gates Of Hell
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
8th August 2014
This year’s edition of Vagos Open Air was bigger in every sense of the word – it lasted one day longer than usual, it had more people coming in, and it had also the greatest bill so far. Kudos for promoters Prime Artists!
National Gates Of Hell must feel proud, and not just for kicking the festival off: it’s not easy for an underground band to gather so many people on a hot Friday, at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but they made it! There was a sea of people like there’s never been for an opening band, in all the 6-year history of the festival! Of course they’ve been working hard for it in the last few years, especially since the release of their debut album, playing all over the country and winning fans with their ballistic live shows. But it still was a wonderful surprise to see such a crowd screaming and moshing for them. And the size of the wall of death on the last song, “Critical Obsession”! Singer Raça thanked everyone – both fans/friends and those who were watching them for the first time – but truth be told, they wouldn’t have got that response if they weren’t just as good. The credit is all yours, boys! Keep it up! (5/5)
Things cooled down a bit, but only in terms of “brutality” – Kandia is a modern/alternative rock band, so no mosh pits for them. But that doesn’t mean that their show was less electrifying. It was just a different kind of voltage. Especially singer Nya Cruz, who looked totally at home on stage. They’ve released two albums so far, but neglected the first one completely, focusing just on the latest “All Is Gone”. Last year, they won the international music contest Global Rockstar with one song from that album, “Scars”. “We’re not going away, we’re here to stay!” was the introduction to that song, as its first verse reads “I’m here to stay”. But more than an introduction, it’s a statement, a motto – and the grip they had on this gig is proof that they will stick to it. (4,5/5)
It was the first time Sylosis were playing in Portugal (after pulling out of the Epic Industrialist Tour, in 2012) and Josh Middleton admitted they weren’t expecting such a reception. The crowd was happy to finally experience live songs such as “All Is Not Well” and “The Blackest Skyline”, so the circles began spinning once again, at full force. And when Josh asked for TWO circles – one at the left, one at the right – they were eager to comply (same as the headbanging to the sound of nothing, but that’s been done before by other artists – the two circles, now that was new). At some point Josh said that this was the last gig of Rob (Callard, drummer), since he would be pursuing a career as a singer… in a Mariah Carey cover band. Such talented musicians and so humorous… no wonder no one cared about the “little” fail of asking if we were ready for Kreator while playing a riff from Slayer’s “Raining Blood”… (5/5)
It had been 11 years since I’d last seen Soilwork – which was the last time they’d played in Portugal. So I don’t know if it’s usual for them to use The Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius” as intro, but for me, it was a really nice surprise. And it links so well to “This Momentary Bliss”, the first song of their set! A set that I confess was hoping to be a bit more diverse, given the years of absence from the Portuguese stages. But their latest album is a magnificent double piece, so it’s only natural they wanted to focus on the killers of “The Living Infinite”. Still they went back a couple of times – “The Average Stalker”, “Bastard Chain”… –, closing with a golden key with “Stabbing The Drama” (“I think you know the chorus to this one”, said Mr. Björn Strid). The circles weren’t as constant as in the previous band but only because Soilwork’s sound doesn’t require so – there’s a reason why it’s called “melodic” death metal. In terms of intensity, they were just as “crazy and wild” (to use Strid’s own words). (5/5)
There were LOADS of Epica fans in Vagos, so whoever thought it was a mistake to invite them again (they performed at the first edition of the fest) couldn’t be more wrong. Simone Simons’ voice was better than the last time I’ve seen them, in the “Requiem For The Indifferent” tour, but still a bit “shaky” here and there. The most blatant case was “Cry For The Moon”, where her voice was smothered by the choir backtracks and not because something failed with her mic. It’s just that female voices also change with time and it’s been 10 years since Simone first recorded that song. Maybe that’s why she took the chance to introduce the band, singing the names and their instruments instead of the original lyrics. Nice trick! But no one seemed to care anyway, as the strong and positive attitude of the whole band made those flaws look like small details.
They played a few songs from the latest album, “The Quantum Enigma” – including the first three tracks plus the new hit “Unchain Utopia”, but Simone said they would be back in November, in a promotional tour for this album. The crowd was thrilled to hear that. (4,5/5)
Okay, it’s true that a Kreator gig is always a Kreator gig, and even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good. But sometimes they’re REALLY awesome – like this time! From “Mars Mantra / Phantom Antichrist” to “Flag Of Hate / Tormentor”, Mille Petrozza got some of the best “Portuguese circle pits” that he kept asking for – having played here so many times before, he knew what he was talking about when he specified the nationality, giving them an unique identity. But with such a performance it was hard not to raise hell – the stage wasn’t big enough for their fire show, but the human heat made up for it.
For the encore, and the aforementioned medley of “Flag Of Hate” and “Tormentor”, Petrozza got on stage holding a flag, saying that when they released that album (“Endless Pain”), back in 1985, Michael Jackson was still alive. The rest of the band played a few chords from “Billie Jean” and the crowd roared. But the roar was much louder when he talked about the album that Judas Priest released five years later, as its title was the opposite of “Endless Pain” – “Painkiller”, with the main riff of its title-track echoing. The true explosion came, of course, when Petrozza stopped talking and the medley itself began.
Nevel a dull moment on this first day – except for the background music between songs, which was literally the same over and over. The metal DJs that took the graveyard shift should have been hired for the day as well…
Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino
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