Hills Have Eyes’ “Antebellum” release party – Porto, Portugal
Hills Have Eyes, Ash Is A Robot, The Year, Dimension
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
23rd October 2015
Promoted by Hell Xis Agency www.facebook.com/hellxis/
Hills Have Eyes released their third album “Antebellum” early this month (review here) but gave their fans a couple of weeks to learn the lyrics before presenting it live in two shows – one in Porto and another in Lisboa (Oporto and Lisbon, as you like to call them).
Along with that enthusiastic crowd of 200 people, give or take (I’m terrible with numerical estimations, sorry), three other bands joined the party. First one on stage was Dimension. I’d seen them back in August, at Casainhos Fest, but this was the first time they were playing in Porto, promoting their own debut album “Life Is A Mystery”. The latter has been getting a very positive feedback and their shows are a match, but it took a little while for the crowd to engage completely in their groovy hardcore. Singer Poli himself said he wasn’t “recognizing the people of Porto” (he has played there several times before with his other band Devil In Me). He was also a little disappointed when no one seemed to know about Luaty Beirão, the Portuguese Angolan musician and activist who had been on a hunger strike after being arrested for speaking his mind (the Angolan authorities saw that as an overthrow attempt…). But after Poli enlightened them and dedicated a song to Beirão (“Times Of Grace”, if I’m not mistaken), everybody applauded. Meanwhile the mosh circles had gained strength and the overall response to Dimension had grown intense, so when they finished their set with the title-track of “Life Is A Mystery”, Poli had a big smile on his face.
I confess The Year was a novelty to me, but many in the audience were happily singing along most of the songs, so I’m guessing they have a fair share of popularity. Deserved, for what I could see in this show – not only for the music but for the posture on stage. And the professionalism when facing sudden setbacks – Jaca’s guitar was silent for a while (I saw him fumbling with the wire, maybe it got disconnected, but I’m not sure) and the rest of the band went on playing, singer Johnny jumping around, while waiting for the problem to get solved. Improvisation is always a plus.
They’re working on a new album – two days prior to this show they even released a teaser for an upcoming video/song, “Omotenashi” – but they’ve only played “oldies” that night, like “Karma Farmer” or “Death By Media”.
Ash Is A Robot’s exquisite sound – a kind of progressive post-hardcore, seasoned with synths – may not agree with everybody’s ear, but Hard Club’s audience that night was pretty open-minded and overjoyed with those Hills Have Eyes neighbors (Setúbal, a little south of Lisboa, is turning out a big talent breeder). And even if the music was taking a bit to sink in, singer /keyboard player Cláudio surely got the moves to catch your attention: that guy’s restless! And funny. Like when no one reacted to his mention of supporting the underground national bands and so he repeated it, slowly, with a cursing word in the end. Or when he said they were going to play a new song (don’t think he introduced the title – if he did, I missed it) and so it would be shit. Or when he asked for a wall of death as soon as “the following relaxing moment” was over – the latter being no other than Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Impossible to stay indifferent.
Like in their self-titled album (the follow-up it’s in the making, by the way), Dado Nunes from Ella Palmer joined on stage to sing “Philophobia Part 1”. And it’s also worth saying that Cláudio joined the mosh pit twice and, unlike last time I’ve seen them, managed to come out of it without bleeding (it seems he needed to go to the hospital after the Lisboa show the next day, though, so I wish him a full recovery soon).
To the sound of a snippet of The Weeknd’s “The Hills” (yes, you’ve got it – the part where Mr. Tesfaye sings “the hills have eyes, the hills have eyes”), the party hosts got on stage and… well, singer Fábio said something about starting a fire before the last song “Strangers”, as that’s precisely its first verse, but the arson lit up right on the first moment of their show. The sound was a bit messy at first (eventually it got straightened out), but the crowd was singing along so loud – myself included – that I believe only a few of us noticed it. And no one cared. The passion HHE put in their performance makes up for any technical detail. After all, as said in the aforementioned album review, I call them “probably the best Portuguese metalcore band” – that includes the live aspect of the thing as well.
“A new phase in HHE’s life”, using Fábio’s own words, so they went through all the previous ones – even the one that included a split album with My Ocean and Last Reunion, in the form of the song “Ending The Cliché”. And because a party needs its special guests, this was the first song of the set featuring one – Ricardo “Congas” Dias, from For The Glory. Then Vasco Ramos from More Than A Thousand – a good friend and producer of the band – joined in to his usual “Anyway, It’s Gone”, and also Di Noise gave her beautiful voice to “The Bringer Of Rain”, just as she does in the studio version.
I’ve lost count of how many times we were told “thank you”, not just during the show but afterwards, on social media. But I think I speak for everyone who was there that we’re even on gratitude grounds – we all had a blast of a night. When the time comes to write an overview about 2015, “Antebellum” will be listed as number 1 in my album chart. And this gig of Hills Have Eyes will surely top the live performances.
Full gallery here.
Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino