20th HardMetalFest – Mangualde (PT)

Mata-Ratos, Convulse, Lacrimas Profundere, Pagan Altar, Switchtense, Dementia 13, Albert Fish, Head:Stoned, Dead Meat, Mindfeeder, Mind Holocaust, Inkilina Sazabra
C.C. Sto. André, Mangualde (PT)
11th January 2014

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HardMetalFest is not only the oldest metal fest in Portugal – 20 editions, 17 years and counting – but also the most diverse. In this edition we had a little bit of (almost) everything!

The first band setting foot on stage wasn’t exactly metal, but the dark and thick sound of Inkilina Sazabra’s industrial rock was more than suitable to such a festival. Too bad that the audience was still weak in numbers – 3:30 p.m. is way too early for the Portuguese crowd, even on a Saturday – but still there was enough people to welcome them warmly.
Formed 4 years ago by a writer and a multi-instrumentalist, they’re about to hit the studio to record their third album. That afternoon we’ve heard a fine selection from both their released works to date, “A Divina Maldade” (divine evilness) and “Almas Envenenadas” (poisoned souls). Singer Pedro Sazabra praised José Rocha, the man behind the fest for all these years, and all those people who got out of the house that day, “because clicking the like-button on Facebook isn’t enough”. (4 / 5)

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The festival would then turn into a completely different direction with Mind Holocaust, who play death metal in a brutal old school style. The reception of the crowd was a different kind of warm, more physical… I’m obviously talking about mosh circles. The venue wasn’t full yet, so the circles weren’t that big, but they were surely intense. Two albums out, with very suggestive titles – “Full Eye Horror Reflect” and “Condemned Souls” – their performance was quite raw and aggressive. (4 / 5)

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Mindfeeder had a lot of enthusiastic fans, proving that power metal is alive and kicking around here. After a few back steps, they finally released their debut full-length last year, “Endless Storm”, and some people sang vigorously along. Others just screamed “hey hey” real loud while raising their fists in the air to the sound of “Colours Of The Skies”, “Feed Your Mind” or “Memories” (dedicated to the aforementioned hardcore fans who have been supporting the band through the years). Really nice vibe.  (4,5 / 5)

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Brutal death/grind-gore Dead Meat have been around for 20 years… literally. Studio is not their thing, the stage is. Singer Dinis recalled having played HardMetalFest back in 1999, thanking José Rocha once again not only for the chance of returning to that festival but also for the excellent job he’s been doing for the underground scene. “Died With Open Eyes”, “Good Clean Cut” or the Dying Fetus cover of “Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog” were some of the songs that ignited the mosh circles. (4 / 5)

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Somewhere between prog and thrash, Head:Stoned followed up.  They’ve been around for more than 7 years now and I believe they’ve grown quite a lot, both musical and performance-wise. The songs are more consistent, stronger, and bass player Vera is finally getting loose, showing real emotion while playing, and singer Vítor stopped with the private jokes… in a nutshell: they’re sounding better and looking more professional on stage. Promoting their latest EP “Present Inexistence” and adding also some songs from their previous works – the other EP “Within The Dark” and the debut full-length “I Am All” – one of their highest moments is still the track “This Void”, which the hardcore fans of the band call “Pim Pim Pim song” (due the splash cymbal beats in it). (4,5 / 5)

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Albert Fish is not only a cannibal rapist serial killer from the late 1800, it is also a street punk band, and as singer Gustavo himself said, they’re not used to play in that kind of festival, more into metal. But one way or another, it’s all underground music and they did pretty well, were very well received by the metalheads, with their speedy rhythm and energetic attitude. They had songs for everybody – the crowd, the other bands, the promoter – but the whole show was dedicated to the memory of Rui “Rocker” Ramos (R.I.P.), guitar player in Crise Total and an icon in the national punk movement, who passed away last November. (4,5 / 5)

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As there is a punk band in Brisbane called Dementia 13, I should call your attention that this is the Portguese old school death metal one. Formed barely three years ago, they’re already some kind of cult band given its all-star line-up (members from Holocausto Canibal, Pitch Black and Biolence, which may not mean much to you but means loads in the Portuguese underground). This show proved once more the excellency of these musicians and that “old school” by no means equals to “out-of-fashion”. The crowd relished in that throbbing riffing and moshed in matching raw aggression. (4,5 / 5)
It was also during this gig that a metal fan, Sérgio Rocha, offered José Rocha an art piece in forged metal, with the HMF initials, in celebration of the 20th edition of the fest.

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Now I’ve been talking about all these great gigs but not given the highest rating. I’m not being overly strict; I just wanted to be fair with Switchtense, as I honestly believe theirs was slightly better than the rest, and therefore the best gig of the festival. No wonder they’re getting some recognition outside our borders, in Germany and Holland especially. Songs such as “State Of Resignation”, “Face Off”, “Infected Blood”, “Ghosts Of Past” or “Into The Words Of Chaos” turned the circles into a hurricane. What a blast! (5 / 5)

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The spirits cooled down a bit with the British doom of Pagan Altar. But as soon as Terry Jones got on stage, in his Victorian outfit and embraced by blue smoke, the power went down! It had already happened outside, in the food corner, but so far it hadn’t affected the stage. It was really frustrating to many, as apparently Pagan Altar was the reason they were there. But it all got sorted out some 10 minutes later and there wasn’t any other problem – although Terry joked when announcing the last song “(…) if the electricity doesn’t go out again”. The crowd was enthralled, despite Terry’s voice lacking a bit of strength. But the feeling was all there and so I couldn’t really complain – especially with the entire ovation they got. “Sentinels Of Hate”, “The Lords Of Hypocrisy”, “The Witches Pathway” or “The Room Of Shadows” took us on an occult medieval journey, and “Dance Of The Vampires” (that Terry had previously announced but his son and guitarist Alan whispered something to his ear and he told us to forgot everything he’d just said) ended up being played after all, on a second encore that I believe was unexpected even for the band – either we were a really good audience that deserved the “one more” which was being screamed, or the promoter wanted to compensate for the initial blackout. (4 / 5)

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Also Lacrimas Profundere, playing for the first time in Portugal, had their fair share of fans. Their latest album “Antiadore”, although not bombastic, is still pretty good, missing innovation and originality, which at the same time can be regarded as a trademark, a sticking-to-their-formula kind of thing. One way or the other, the mix of rock and goth, of spunk and gloom that these Germans produce on stage is of high quality and needless to say that it works out awesomely well – no matter how repetitive it may sound in the studio. The response of the audience was equally great, especially if we consider that the majority of the attendees was into much heavier stuff.
I haven’t seen any official statement announcing Clea Clemens as their new bass player, or why his brother Christoph was sitting behind the drums instead of Dominik Scholz, but both blended in easily with the rest of the band and did their jobs very well, in a concert heavy with emotion. (4,5 / 5)

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Sadly, I wasn’t feeling very well and couldn’t stay for the Finnish death metal act Convulse and the national punk/hardcore legends Mata-Ratos. Someone had lit a fire a few feet away and I sat there, regaining my strength. But people who I later talked to assured me both bands were great, each in their own style.

Technical problems and delays aside, it was another great edition of this festival. May many more come our way!

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

Full gallery in our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.628910953812447.1073741839.206896606013886&type=1&l=61713adf50

10 Responses to “20th HardMetalFest – Mangualde (PT)”

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