Archive for Head:Stoned

Freedom Call w/ support – Porto, PT

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 14th April 2014 by Pieni

Freedom Call, DragonhammeR, Head:Stoned
Hard Club, Porto
Thursday, 3rd April 2014

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With the release of their 8th studio album, “Beyond”, Freedom Call embarked on a mandatory European tour (read here). The only Portuguese date took place at Hard Club, Porto, courtesy of SWR Inc., to whom I’d also like to thank for the press/photo pass.

As Head:Stoned are halfway between heavy metal and prog, I was a bit surprise to see them supporting two power metal acts, but it worked out pretty well after all – the “happy metal partyers” surrendered to the band’s juicy heaviness and lively performance, headbanging enthusiastically and greeting and asking for guitar picks in the end of the gig.
Their most recent release is already from January 2013 (the six-track EP “Present Inexistence”), so there was no need to promote it anymore – especially being a local band that plays in the area quite often – and therefore the setlist was balanced between all their discography (another EP – “Within The Dark” – and a full-length – “I Am All”). “This Void” is clearly their biggest hit so it was the obvious choice to close their half-an-hour gig. (4,5 / 5)

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Italian DragonhammeR came next and, unlike me, many knew them well enough. “The X Experiment” was released last December (after a studio break that lasted almost ten years), so they focused a little bit more on that one. But being their first time in Portugal, and having just a 45-minute slot, give or take, they still played three songs from the previous “Time For Expiation” and one – “Dragon Hammer” – from the debut “The Blood Of The Dragon”. They were somewhat somber, only drummer Andrea Gianangeli – the most recent member in the band – matching the vibrant rhythm of their power prog (more power than prog, I must add). But they were smiling in the end – and they had reasons to, given the warm welcome bidden by the crowd – so the serious look on stage was probably just concentration.
The drums in “Seek In The Ice”, the guitar chords of “Believe”, the chorus (sung-along by the audience) of “The X Experiment” and singer/guitarist Max Aguzzi introducing the band before the last song (“Last Solution”) are some of the moments I best recall of the gig. (3,5 / 5)

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I was sick in 2001, when Freedom Call first and last played in Portugal, as a support act for Hammerfall. Back then I was really pissed for missing it, as I liked power metal a lot more than I do now – or actually, “as I liked power metal”. Period. Having enjoyed this gig so much in the present day was really a surprise. I guess it means that Freedom Call are THAT good.
Another surprise was seeing so many people. And the high number of Freedom Call t-shirts, especially on young bodies – I had no idea they were so popular around here, let alone among youngsters. It’s nice to know that not every teen follows “what’s in”, as power metal isn’t exactly the latest metal-fashion.
It wasn’t just the excellency of the performance in technical terms or the setlist – a 90-minute headlining show of a band that’s been around for more than 15 years and has 8 studio albums in its baggage is always a treat – but the good spirits of frontman Chris Bay as well. He tried to say some words in Portuguese but apart from “obrigado” (thank you) he failed totally. So he just smiled and said they had to come back more often, so he could learn. Later he said he was happy to see us there on a soccer night (the major local team had a match which was being broadcasted on TV), that we were looking good. And after asking us to raise our fists in the air, he added that we didn’t only look good, we smelled good too. Also, he asked for our help in “Beyond”, asked us to give them the rhythm by clapping our hands, as he had a tendency to go fast – and addressing the women he would then say that he wasn’t talking about sex.
I appreciated that Chris sat behind the keyboards for “The Quest” instead of using recorded samples. And that he asked for an applause not only for the support bands but also for their sound tech and even Hard Club’s own light tech, who he was sorry for not remembering the name but was thankful for the great job he did (yeah, I just wish he did the same at every gig…).
Chris told us that when they began writing the new album, they wanted to keep the word “warrior” out of it, shrugging his shoulders and almost rolling his eyes, because they were the “Warriors Of Light” after all so that word was a must-have. The setlist itself had three songs with it – that same “Warriors Of Light”, “Heart Of A Warrior” and “Warriors” (the latter already in the 3-song encore, along with “Paladin” and “Land Of Light”). And when introducing the band, he asked who had been at the 2001 gig, “on the other side of the river” (the original location of Hard Club), as bass player Ilker Ersin had played that show, then left in 2005 and was now back in what Chris claims to be “the best Freedom Call line-up”.
In the final thanks he mentioned again the soccer night, and the fact that was Thursday and so late. I was one of the many who had to go to work the morning after so leaving Hard Club at 1:45 am wasn’t ideal at all. But hell, was it worth it! (5 / 5)

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

20th HardMetalFest – Mangualde (PT)

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd January 2014 by Pieni

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

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