Heavenwood, The Temple, Blame Zeus, Gates Of Hell
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
26th March 2016
Promoted by Raising Legends
In late February, Heavenwood released their fifth record “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” (review here) and the first release party took place about a month later, in a full-enough Hard Club. Other three top-notch bands from the national scene were on the bill, all of them so different from each other, making this a diverse event, even more interesting than “just” a release show.
First band on stage was Gates Of Hell, delivering their thrash-death-’core like they owned the place. I guess one can still call Márlon “the new guy”, as he was introduced as the new singer only last December (report here), but to me it feels like he’s been there all along.
There was a couple of missteps but I believe it wasn’t entirely their fault – trust me, I’ve seen them over a dozen times by now; the sound was a bit messy at first, so my guess is that they were having trouble listening to each other. Whatever or whoever was to blame, they went on so passionately that no one cared about such slips.
The show had begun at nine, half an hour later than scheduled, but still Márlon thanked the crowd for getting there so early to see them (20:30 is pretty early for a gig here in Portugal). The title-track of their debut (and so far only) album “Critical Obsession” closed their set.
Things cooled down considerably with Blame Zeus, as their more progressive approach is spirited but much less aggressive. They’re about to go through some major line-up changes – both guitarists and the bassist still played the show but have already announced their departure – which Sandra called “a new cycle”. And with the beginning of that cycle, she introduced a new song, “Queen”, about her career and what she had done to get that far and how it meant having to be mean sometimes… The new song has pretty much the same vibe, so the fans don’t need to worry about these changes, as Blame Zeus will continue the path of their usual sound.
Speaking of fans, there were plenty there that night and one in particular was celebrating his birthday. Sandra spared us from singing the happy birthday theme, dedicating him his favorite song instead, “Incarnate”.
Then veterans The Temple brought down the house with their fiery alternative rock. Personally, it was the band I was most eager to see, since it had been eleven years (yes, eleven!) since I’d last seen them. And they didn’t let me down, nor the public in general. I believe they’ve made a lot of new fans. And spicing up their own great music with a cover of Mão Morta’s “Budapeste” (yeah, I know this won’t say anything to people outside of our country, but to us, it does a lot) and a tribal drum solo to which singer João and guitarist Marcelo gave both of their helping hands, their performance was a 5-star one.
I’m having mixed feelings about Heavenwood’s gig. Maybe I had set my expectations too high, maybe I was still in an adrenaline rush from The Temple show, but the truth is that I felt something was missing. The setlist was perfect; they’d promised to revisit their whole discography and so they did, and not just one song from each previous album, as some people had joked. However they tweaked the synths of the older ones to the point that I didn’t even recognize them at first. It seems the idea was to make them sound heavier, but at least “Emotional Wound”, my all-time favorite, sounded anything but. I already didn’t like its softer version in “Diva”, as the original, while they still went by Disgorged, was way heavier; and somehow they managed to tone it down even more that night. That might have helped with my mild disappointment.
The new live musicians made an impression – drummer Eduardo is quite skillful; guitarist Victor smiled and headbanged all the time; there isn’t a spot on stage that bassist André didn’t cover. Frontman Ricardo also looked to be “feeling it” deeper than usual, but his voice went out of tune a few times. As for Ernesto, it was the other way around: his voice sounded better than ever, but his mind seemed somewhere else. Something missing, I keep saying. Me and a few others, but luckily, the majority of the fans left with a smile on their face, after the “Frithiof’s Saga” and “Suicidal Letters” encore. And I won’t let one less good gig destroy my belief in them. Plus, at some point Ricardo said that “stopping is dying”, referring to the band’s sound evolution. I’ve been keeping tabs on that evolution since the first album, I definitely won’t stop now.
Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino