Vagos Open Air 2012 – 1st day

Bands: Nasum, At The Gates, Arcturus, Enslaved, Eluveitie, Northland, Disaffected
Location: Lagoa do Calvão, Vagos (PT)
Date: 3rd August 2012

Vagos Open Air was created in 2009 by Prime Artists and Ophiusa Events. It soon became the best metal festival in Portugal as it always has a couple of national underground bands, and the rest of the bill features dear names of the Portuguese metal audience, many of them who haven’t played here in a long while, or never at all.
For me, it is also perfect because:
– it has only one stage, so you don’t need to move around from one to another, nor choose between bands playing at the same time, as so often happens in big festivals;
– 6 bands per day, assuring you’ll have enough energy to endure screaming and jumping during all of them;
– first band climbs on stage at 17:00 – the hours where the August sun burns the most are already gone.
And it is located near a small and quiet lagoon, really easy to get there either by train + bus or by car.

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The opening band was Disaffected, an experimental/progressive death metal piece who’s been signed by Massacre Records in the fall of 2011 and released their second full-length, “Rebirth”, last May.
The problem with Disaffected is that they experiment way too much. They may be considered musical geniuses in a decade or more, but right now, having all instruments playing their own tune, isn’t working very well. Especially in the beginning of a festival – no matter if Arcturus, who also have a peculiar disharmonic sound, would play a few hours later. The crowd, still small in numbers at the time, applauded politely, but you could see the puzzled look on their faces.
Almost all songs belonged to “Rebirth” – the only exception being the title-track of their debut, “Vast”. They kicked off with “Our Will” and ended that… weird half an hour with “1460 Steps To Divine”.

http://www.myspace.com/disaffectedmetal

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If the violin wasn’t hint enough, singer/guitarist Pau Murillo’s shirt saying “folk you” would surely enlighten you about what would come next – if you had never heard about Northland. That didn’t seem to be the case of many, as they cheered loudly as the members got on stage and sang the lyrics to “Where The Heroes Die” themselves, since Pau’s mic wasn’t working. But that didn’t stop the party. The crowdsurfing kept the security guys busy right from the start, technical problems or not.
The Spanish band has one self-titled album out alone, released in 2010, but it’s currently finishing the recordings for its follow-up – which I believe was how their label Black Bards got them in this year’s bill. “Whispers In The Wind” is one of the new songs and it is “against governments, against politicians”. To create a bigger impact, Pau added “fuck them” to the introductory speech. Despite the similarity between Spanish and Portuguese, he always addressed the audience in English. Wise choice, in my personal opinion.
“Immortal Forest Song” and “Revenge” were the last tracks of a great and happy show. I even heard some people saying that, even though folk wasn’t their cup of tea, Northland kept them hyped up. Assuming they were there for the heaviest stuff, I’d say that’s a big praise.

http://northland.cat/

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The folk fans had much to rejoice, as Eluveitie was up next. The Swiss released a new album in February and it was its intro, “Prologue”, and title-track, “Helvetios”, that set the wheels in motion. In fact, the majority of the setlist was consisted of recent songs.
Chrigel Glanzmann said it was “a pleasure and a fucking honour to finally be back in your beautiful country”, not only because “it is cool to be here and all the girls are fucking beautiful and hot” but also because it was a country with its own Celtic history. And for that, we got “Neverland”. Later, “Inis Mona” would also be “for you”.
I think it was before “Meet The Enemy” that Chrigel teased the crowd, saying that he had heard that Vagos was a metal festival but it hadn’t seemed like it so far. “Go fucking crazy!”, he screamed. And they did.
Also before “Kingdom Come Undone” he told some guy (“you in the Amon Amarth t-shirt”) to lead the pit right from the back to the front. “Havoc” was both the last song and the best word to describe the mosh pits made by the Eluveitie’s fans.

http://eluveitie.ch/

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From the Celtics to the Vikings: Enslaved. And even though they played here in December, Grutle Kjellson said he wished they could play in Portugal more often ‘cause “it’s fucking great”. “And it’s getting dark”, he added, ‘cause let’s face it: a black metal band, no matter how progressive as Enslaved is, looks a lot better playing in the dark.
They didn’t say much more than that – just the occasional “thank you”s, a song title here and there… but the performance itself compensated the lack of talking. Even if the fans didn’t get a whiff of the new album, due in less than 2 months. Apart from “Allfǫðr Oðinn”, taken from the 1992 demo “Yggdrasil” to the 1993 EP “Hordanes Land”, all songs were less than 10 years old, such as “Ethica Odini”, “As Fire Swept Clean The Earth” or the closing theme “Isa”. In between, they made their own version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.

http://www.myspace.com/enslaved

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Hailing from the same country, along came another kind of Vikings. The kind that plays “avant-garde progressive metal” and dresses up in cassocks and steampunk gimmicks.
I’ve heard a lot about how Arcturus were no good live. Now I saw it for myself. I know avant-garde equals unconventional, and dissonant is a key adjective among this genre. But ICS Vortex’s out-of-tune voice was clearly a lack of skill, not a deliberate act. And it seems he was changing the lyrics, letting out hysterical shrills in the middle, as if he didn’t know what to sing next – or so a fan told me. I don’t know their work well enough to state such a thing, but the person who told me does and I believe him.
There was a technical problem at some point, I think with a guitar, and Vortex said that maybe he should tell a joke while they were waiting. But then he admitted he didn’t know any jokes, that maybe they should call Enslaved’s drummer on stage as he knew some jokes. Can’t tell if he meant it or was just being sarcastic.
“Ad Absurdum”, “Deception Genesis” and “Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer” were some of the songs performed that night, which was the first Arcturus ever played in Portugal, both before and after the 2011 reunion. I don’t think they caused a big impression in the majority of the presents, though.

http://www.myspace.com/arcturusnorway

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Another reunited band premiering in Portugal, and surely the most awaited one that day/night, was Swedish At The Gates. And if some melodic death metal fan was disappointed in some way, then we weren’t in the same gig.
Every song equaled an epic piece, starting up with “Slaughter Of The Soul”.
“22 years and we never came here. That’s fucking crazy”, admitted Tomas Lindberg. “Thank you very much for waiting”. Then, the next song had a poetic introduction: “In a night like this is not hard to remember that together we all live Under A Serpent Sun.
“Windows”, out “exactly 20 years ago, in a pretty underground release”, was dedicated to the old school people. “You know who you are”.
A few songs later, Lindberg was still amazed by the Portuguese crowd, not believing that was their very first time in the country, despite all the good things they’d been told about us. Proud, the crowd started to scream “Por-tu-gal” while one of the guitars (not sure if Anders Björler‘s or Martin Larsson‘s) played a snippet of Slayer’s “South Of Heaven”. And then, “Forever Blind” came up.
“Are you ready, boys and girls? You better be! Nauseaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
And so on and so on. In the end, Lindberg said that it’s been “fantastic” and a “pleasure”. “It took some time, but it was worth it”. “Kingdom Gone”, their very first single, was the grand finale.

http://www.atthegates.se

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As said before, Vagos Open Air has 6 bands per day. But the opportunity of booking Nasum came after the bill was full and Prime Artists just couldn’t let it go – the band split up after the terrible death of guitarist and frontman Mieszko Talarczyk, in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, and reunited for a single tour this year, as the band would celebrate its 20th anniversary if Talarczyk was still alive. So this is just that – an anniversary celebration to “say a final goodbye to the fans and Mieszko, the latter replaced by Rotten Sound’s Keijo Niinimaa.
All grindcore fans were delighted, not just for the show itself but for seeing it like a dream come true, as they never thought they’d have the chance to see such legend live. For the first and last time in Portugal, they saw/heard classics like “Masshypnosis”, “Scoop”, “Bullshit”, “Relics”, “I See Lies” and “Inhale/Exhale”. Both band and crowd waved goodbye in style.

http://www.nasum.com

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by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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10 Responses to “Vagos Open Air 2012 – 1st day”

  1. Great review . Congratulations!

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