Vagos Open Air 2013 – 2nd day

Testament, Gamma Ray, Iced Earth, Rotting Christ, Tarantula, Web
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
10th August 2013

Photos originally taken for Portuguese webzine Sound(/)Zone.

The second day of the festival was much heavier. And more experient, having all bands been founded in the eighties.
Without any record label to pull the strings, Web got a well-deserved opening spot all by themselves. And they simply tore the stage down! I’ve seen these guys literally dozens of times and this was one of their best shows, despite one of the shortest as well. The crowd seemed to agree with me, and right from the beginning the security guys had their hands full with the moshers and crowdsurfers, as “Life Aggression”, “(In)Sanity” or “Beautiful Obsession” sounded sharper than ever.

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When Tarantula got on stage, their power metal didn’t sound so powerful. Maybe we were all still too high from the adrenaline shot of the previous band, but whatever the reason, when “Spiral Of Fear” first echoed, the general feeling was a bit dull – and I don’t mean just the crowd reaction. Eventually things got a little better and there were loud shouts and fists in the air during songs such as “Afterlife” or “You Can Always Touch The Sky”. Still they lacked a little spunk. It wasn’t a bad show, not at all, but it was far from great.

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Rotting Christ restored the high spirits of the crowd, with a fierceness that is no stranger to their live performances. From the early days with “The Forest Of N’Gai” and “Transform All Suffering Into Plagues”, to the more recent “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy” and “In Yumen – Xibalba”, going through the Thou Art Lord cover “Societas Satanas” and the iconic “Athanati Este”, the Greeks put up a hell of a show (no pun intended).

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Iced Earth was probably the biggest surprise. I know it was for me. The band has been in a kind of downfall since the first time Matt Barlow left, and even if “Dystopia” was considerably better, it still didn’t impress me. I might listen to it again more carefully now, after seeing what “new” singer Stu Block is really capable of. He gave this band a fresh air, bringing back to life songs like “Burning Times”, “Pure Evil” or “I Died For You”. Also the songs from “Dystopia” – by the way, in “V” Stu wears the matching anonymous mask – get a whole new vibe when performed outside the studio. After “Iced Earth” there was still time for one more, and they chose “The Hunter”, promising to come back soon, maybe when promoting the new album, due for early 2014.

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It seems that Biff Byford suffered an injury of sorts and Saxon had to cancel in the last minute. Gamma Ray stepped in and they’re the kind of band to pull through a kiss-ass show with a 24-hour notice – even if Kai Hansen felt he needed to trade some of the high pitches for low ones, but I’m guessing that has nothing to do with unexpected shows…
“Anywhere In The Galaxy”, “New Order”, the new “Master Of Confusion”, “Rebellion In Dreamland”, “To The Metal”… a parade of traditional heavy/power metal tunes. And, of course, the mandatory Helloween cover, that this time came in double: “Future World” and “I Want Out”.

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I don’t know if Chuck Billy was tired or sick, but his voice was a bit hoarse. Not his presence, though – Testament hit the stage with full force and kept it up like that for almost one hour and a half.
First they promoted their recent stuff – a few songs from “Dark Roots Of Earth”, “More Than Meets The Eye” from the previous one – and then it was old school non-stop: “Into The Pit”, “The Preacher”, “Alone In The Dark”, “Over The Wall”… They didn’t come back for an encore and a few more classics – like I said, Chuck wasn’t at his finest – but that didn’t change the fact that Testament was one of the best bands of this year’s Vagos Open Air.

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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