Vagos Open Air 2014 – 2nd day

Opeth, Annihilator, Behemoth, The Haunted, Angelus Apatrida, Requiem Laus
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
9th August 2014

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Author António Parada wrote a thriller full of heavy metal connotations called “A Guardiã” (the guardian), so he thought Vagos Open Air was suitable for a presentation. I confess I totally forgot about it, so I didn’t arrive to Quinta do Ega in time of watching it. I doubt there will be an English version of it anyway, but if it happens, I’ll let you know.

Despite the 1-day tickets for Saturday being sold out and their much longer career – 16 years longer, to be exact –, Requiem Laus didn’t have a crowd as big as Gates Of Hell had had the previous day. Singer Miguel said this was their return to the stages, after two years and a half (personally, I hadn’t seen them in 7), so maybe that’s why their sound seemed so alien to the majority of the crowd. Plus they’re somewhat… introvert. Good musicians, with great death-blackish songs such as “Reflection Of God” or “Impulse”, which they performed there, but they enjoy the music on their own, not reaching out to the crowd much. So sadly they didn’t get an effusive response to their gig. (3/5)

Requiem Laus official Facebook

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Angelus Apatrida, on the other hand, unleashed hell – kicking off with “Violent Dawn”, violent is the right word to describe the circles. The Spanish thrash metal act has a solid fan base here, but even if they didn’t, the moshers would have quickly surrendered. Guitarist David G. Álvarez suffered a motorcycle accident back in March and his right leg is still on a cast. But even sitting down on a chair, he moved his upper body like there was no tomorrow. Those guys know how to be on stage and a broken leg doesn’t change that.
Among the short occasions Guillermo Izquierdo addressed the crowd – they had little time to play, so he didn’t want to waste it with talking – he mentioned they were once again recording at Switchtense’s studio (Ultrasound Studios). That meant a lot to the people, not only because it implied a new album, but also because it’s a Portuguese studio. (5/5)

Angelus Apatrida official Facebook

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Not sure when The Haunted had played here last, but it’d been quite a while. To say the crowd was eager for this gig is an understatement. And while you can never read Jonas Björler’s expression, Marco Aro’s was one of true happiness throughout the whole show, so I guess at least he was just as elated as the people watching them. Hell, he was so enthusiastic that he hit the mic against his forehead a few times until it bled, and didn’t attend to the wound until he was off stage! Anyway, whatever the others were feeling, they put everything they’ve got into the performance and all expectations were met. From “99” to “Hate Song”, going through “Undead”, “No Compromise” and the new “Eye Of The Storm” (by the way, the new album “Exit Wounds” is out in just a few days – 25th August) the “mosh ‘em all” motto in the back of Aro’s t-shirt was fulfilled. (5/5)

The Haunted official Facebook

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But in my humble opinion, it was Behemoth who put up the greatest show – even in daylight! They were also missing their cobra microphone stands and some other paraphernalia, just the cloaks and make-up. And the horned masks they wear during the final prayer of “O Father O Satan O Sun!”. Meaning the excellence of their show was due to their music – hand-picked songs from the last six albums – and attitude on stage: Seth’s “hairbanging”, Orion’s mean faces, Inferno’s sharp beats and, of course, Nergal’s leadership. I don’t think he spoke a word to the audience, but the weight of his stare on us and how he yelled at us to yell back had more communication than a speech. Simply amazing the power Behemoth holds on stage. (5/5)

Behemoth official Facebook

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In their own old-school way, Annihilator were top as well. They released a new album last year, titled “Feast”, so they played a few songs in order to promote it – “Smear Campaign”, which opened the show, “No Way Out” and “Deadlock”. Then, apart from the funny country-metal song “Chicken & Corn” (a hidden track featured in “Carnival Diablos”, from 2001), every other track was +20 years old. What a trip to the past, from where I personally highlight “King Of The Kill”, “Set The World On Fire” and – you guessed! – “Alison Hell”. Thrash metal at its best!
There was one thing I couldn’t stop noticing. When Jeff Waters was introducing the band, he mentioned Oscar Rangel’s Mexican nationality right before he introduce Dave Padden. Or at least that’s what I understood; Padden got it otherwise and said quickly, somewhat annoyed “I’m not Mexican”. I guess I’d be annoyed too if I thought that, after working with someone for 12 years, he still didn’t get my roots right. Still I think Padden could’ve had a different reaction, maybe make a joke out of it, as there were a few awkward seconds between the two guitarists. But nothing significant enough to ruin the 5 stars the gig deserves. (5/5)

Annihilator official Facebook

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Now Opeth… I’ll start with something Mikael Åkerfeldt said at some point, regarding a song I honestly can’t remember the name, but he said that “if it sounds like a fuck-up, it isn’t. It’s just us being progressive”. And this is more or less what I think of prog. Nope, it’s definitely not my cup of tea. I recognize the high quality of some of the bands/artists, but I just can’t like it. So me, and many others like me, wouldn’t have enjoyed the show (apart from Åkerfeldt’s jokes, that is). The thing is that even among the die-hard Opeth fans there are mixed feelings about the Vagos show. Some complained about the “soft” setlist, others about the somewhat shallow performance… and then there are those who were simply enthralled from the moment “The Devil’s Orchard” started to the one where “Blackwater Park” stopped. They have played VOA two years ago, and I’ve also seen them at the 9th (and last) anniversary show of the original Hard Club, and this was the weakest of those three. But like I said, prog isn’t my thing, so I could be wrong… I still laughed when he said they came from Stockholm, where other great metal bands came from, like Entombed, Dismember, Bathory… and ABBA. That the next song was actually “Super Trouper” (it was “Heir Apparent”). Or when he said it smelled like dead cat in his armpit. Or when he told a girl she could lower the “teddy-crocodile” as he didn’t know that song (it was a dinosaur plushie with a sign asking for “Coil”). Still there was something missing in his attitude – even I noticed that. Was it a bad concert? No, I can’t say that. But Opeth can do better. (4/5)

Opeth official Facebook

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

More pics in our Facebook page HERE.

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