Vagos Open Air 2015 – 2nd day
Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, Venom, Black Label Society, Triptykon, Destruction, Mutant Squad, W.A.K.O.
Quinta do Ega, vagos (PT)
8th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists
The second day of Vagos Open Air was the heaviest in sound and numbers. Saturdays are always prone to attract more people, but I’m pretty sure it was the names on the bill that gathered so many metalheads
If memory serves me well, I hadn’t seen W.A.K.O. in four years. Not that they’ve inactive all that time, no. I just haven’t had the chance to see them lately. And damn, what I’ve been missing! Sure, the aforementioned gig I attended at Hard Club was a killer (no pun intended – did I mention that W.A.K.O. stands for We Are Killing Ourselves?), but this one at Vagos was simply devastating! As well as the mosh circles the crowd put up restlessly, from the opener “Abyss” to the closing “The Shadows Collapse Within”. Any thumbs-down? Sure – too short. Such a show deserved to last longer.
Next, from country next door, came Mutant Squad. Straight-forward thrash metal always works when played live, whether you’re familiar with the band or not (which I think was the case of many in the crowd). The Spanish continued fuelling the mosh frenzy that W.A.K.O. had started with songs from their debut full-length “Titanomakhia”, and also one (“Remember”) from the 2012 EP “Social Misfits”. Using a few Portuguese curse words also helped them winning over the crowd, as well as praising the W.A.K.O. gig and their guitarist Pedro Mendes. The set ended with “Mutants Will Rise”, but before leaving the stage, singer/guitarist Pla announced they’d return to Portugal in November, for the Mosher clothing fest, and the people seemed happy about it.
The thrashing went on in a much more old-school vein. Both previous bands had a pretty packed crowd waiting for them, but Destruction had an army! The action on and off stage lived up to the band’s name. This is another band that hasn’t released anything new in three years (the Saxon cover on “The Big Teutonic 4” split can’t obviously count) but whose presence in this or any other festival is more than justified, as their performances are what live shows are all about. Even when the sound goes down… Not sure what happened, but at some point closer to the end, only the drums were audible. As the band played on, I believe they still heard what they were doing on stage, but we didn’t. One thing I noticed and appreciated was that no one booed – they did cry out in disappointment, but not in angry accusation, understanding that this kind of thing happens. Eventually the sound came back, its volume still on a rollercoaster ride, but everything was back to normal when Schmier announced the last song “Bestial invasion”.
Triptykon stirred another kind of turmoil – an emotional one. Although the crowdsurfers kept the security guys busy during the black metal parts that spice the doom nature of the band. Thomas Gabriel Fischer was particularly talkative and clearly happy to be there – the “it’s so good to be back” that we so often hear seemed honest. They played an excellent gloomy show that I just wished was a bit more Triptykon and less Celtic Frost. They have two great full-length albums, why dwell in past bands? One song would be enough, for old times sake – that I understand. But three? Plus a Hellhammer cover (“Messiah”) that Celtic Frost already used to cover – as Hellhammer was the band Thomas and Martin Ain were in before Celtic Frost. Even the “are you morbid?” expression was used that night. A flawless and enthralling performance, yes, but a little too much “double identity” for my personal taste.
Even though not closing the bill, Black Label Society were the headliners – the number of people waiting for Zakk Wylde (with no disrespect for the other musicians, just stating the truth) left no doubt about that. Not even the 20-minute delay (that wasn’t apologized for or explained) seemed to bother the fans. But then again, those same fans go bananas with Wylde’s 20-minute solos, so we clearly don’t agree on several things.
The show was impeccable, no one can say otherwise. There’s a reason why Wylde is considered such a guitar god and that reason was palpable that night. But like everything in life, when you’re not drinking your cup of tea… I’ve heard more than one person complaining about the extensive guitar work, but come on, that’s what Wylde does! That’s what his fans where there to see and that’s what they got. Now the “lesser fans”… well, not even guitar gods can please everyone. He didn’t talk much, except when introducing the band – he talked A LOT then, although I didn’t understand half of it, given that Southern accent of his (that I’m still trying to figure out where he got it from, as the guy was born and raised in New Jersey…). I did understand clearly the “We love you Dimebag!” at the end of “In This River”.
Only now, as writing this, did I realize that the oldest band of the bill was the only with material released in 2015. Funny. Not that it mattered that much, as Venom didn’t focus on that new album, “From The Very Depths”. If I’m correct, only “Rise” and “Long Haired Punks” were played. But we’re talking about a band that was founded 36 years ago and has released killer black/speed hits ever since – there’s no such thing as promoting an album nowadays, only mingling a couple of new tracks with a roll of classics.
Despite the late hour, and after so many mosh-friendly bands, the circle pits were back in full, matching the violence that the trio “out of Hell” unleashed.
There was still one more band left, “special guests” Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, who, as the name indicates, play black metal. For over two decades now. This year their debut EP “A Era do Abutre” (The Vulture’s Era) turned 20 years and they played a few shows to celebrate it. I believe they were invited to Vagos precisely for that anniversary. Still, black metal isn’t for everybody and the crowd wasn’t as big when they got on stage. And then there were those who wished they had left, as a desperate voice started screaming “go away, please!” at some point. Everybody – band included – laughed, but as the following song was “Morte Geométrica” (geometric death), singer/guitarist Belathauzer introduced it by saying that death wasn’t a bad thing, some people deserved death. Sounded to me like it was aimed at someone specific… The gig ended with “Labirito” (labyrinth), dedicated to “all our families”.
Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino
Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.
Thanks to Hugo Delgado for the memory card.