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Melechesh & Keep Of Kalessin w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , on 23rd May 2015 by Pieni

Embryo, Tribulation, Keep Of Kalessin, Melechesh
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
16th May 2015
Promoted by SWR Inc.

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Even if a co-headlining tour of Melechesh and Keep Of Kalessin sounded pretty good – and it was, oh how it was! – it’s probably a stretch to say the venue was half-full. It wasn’t lack of promotion or even lack of fans, as both bands have a somewhat solid fan-base around here. There’s just been a fair share of gigs, and Summer festivals are around the corner, and Portugal’s economic situation is far from great – people must make tough choices.

 photo _DSC0048 copy_zpsewygqo4h.jpgThey brought along two support acts, the first on stage being Italian Embryo. They add some synths to their death metal, but I’m not sure if “melodic death metal” is the most accurate to describe their sound. Whatever the label, they did good – even if the aforementioned small crowd was even smaller at the early hour they played at. On the other hand, the few people there gave a great response to Embryo’s performance, making them feel welcome, which always help with a band’s confidence.
They have recently (February) released their third and self-titled album, five years after the previous “No God Slave”. Apart from the title-track of the latter, the setlist was, understandably, comprised of songs from “Embryo”. (4/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/EMBRYO.DeathMetal

 photo _DSC0421 copy_zpsevyssxt7.jpgNow Tribulation, that was the undoubtful surprise of the night! I had heard of them recently – they’re featured in last month’s Sweden Rock Magazine – but it didn’t compel me to listen to their music; their image screamed black metal and I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the genre. Kids, never judge a book by its cover nor a band by its looks. Yes, their sound is rooted in black metal, but they add so many metal & rock elements to it, and play it live with such passion that they will enthrall even those who aren’t big on black metal (like me).
Like Embryo, Tribulation were promoting their latest third album, “The Children Of The Night”, which seems to be getting a quite good acclaim. I still didn’t listen to it, but I can totally vouch for the excellence of their shows. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/Tribulationofficial

 photo _DSC0648_zpsotiwuyi7.jpgIt had been a while since Keep Of Kalessin last visited our country (also with Melechesh, funny thing). In those four years, mastermind Obsidian Claw took the role of lead singer, and even though I liked Thebon, this 3-piece line-up suits the band. Plus, with Wizziac doing the many backing vocals that once were done by Obsidian, he’s forced to headbang less and you can finally get clean shots of the face behind that immensely long hair… Seriously, Obsidian has a great voice and having to play guitar at the same time didn’t jeopardize his wielding stage presence. In fact, it strengthen it – during the instrumental parts, he and Wizziac move around, trade places, occasionally play together, and then as if they’re battling each other… Yeah, this works better for Keep Of Kalessin.
And if there’s been mixed feelings among the fans regarding their latest “Epistemology” album, mainly complaining about how their “epic extreme metal” is not so extreme after all, the truth is that it’s a killer when played live.
I believe it was during “The Divine Land” that Obsidian’s guitar broke a string, leaving up to the other two members to finish the song on their own. As the problem wasn’t solved yet (Obsidian explained something about different tunes, which was kind of senseless to me and everyone else who doesn’t play guitar), Vyl got to entertain us with a drum solo. When the guitar was ready, Keep Of Kalessin finished their set with “Ascendant”. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/keepofkalessin

 photo _DSC0984_zps5znqmdrw.jpgAnd then came Melechesh, living up to the “fire” part of their name. Ashmedi was happy to be back in Porto, and since they’d be heading to Lisbon only at 8 am the next day, he was planning on partying all night, inviting the fans to join him. One thing he wasn’t so happy about, in fact he stated several times how much he hated it, was having to tune his guitar all the time. Funny guy.
At that other gig I’ve already told you about, with Keep Of Kalessin, back in 2011, I remember guitarist Moloch getting on stage with a black kerchief around his head and keeping it for a handful of songs until the heat forced him to remove it. This time, both his “Nomadic Soul” replacement and bassist Scorpios got on stage with that desert garment, but didn’t keep it past the first song “The Pendulum Speaks”. Shame, but totally understandable.
Between the songs of the recent “Enki” and classics such as “Genies, Sorcerers and Mesopotamian Nights”, “Triangular Tattvic Fire” and “Ghouls of Nineveh” – a song to which Ashmedi referred with a bit of sadness, as Nineveh was an ancient Mesopotamian city destroyed in a civil war – it was clear that Melechesh was the most awaited band of the night. And that’s why we were sad ourselves when their gig was over, after just one hour. Apart from that, it was perfect. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/melechesh

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Finntroll w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 24th March 2015 by Pieni

Profane Omen, HateSphere, Finntroll
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
20th March 2015
Promoted by SWR Inc

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With “Nattfödd” celebrating its 10th anniversary last year, Finntroll embarked on an intense European tour where they’ve been playing the album in full. The second leg of the tour included an one-off show in Portugal that was almost a no-show – there were some problems during the trip between Madrid and Porto (“you wouldn’t believe it if I told you” were Vreth’s words), but they made it, about forty minutes later. And since half of the gigs in my country run late, we didn’t even realize how serious the situation was.

 photo _DSC0152_zpsqiqqhhvt.jpgProfane Omen stormed the stage with wide smiles on their faces. They had never played in Portugal before and that was something they’d been wanting to fix for a long time, which singer Jules Näveri told us in a perfect Brazilian-accented Portuguese! I later learned he’s married to a Brazilian lady, explaining why he is so fluent in this difficult language. But even if it was quite easy for him, it was something highly appreciated by everyone in the room and helped breaking the ice, since it was obvious that Profane Omen weren’t exactly famous among the crowd. Well, they are now. And not just because the singer could speak Portuguese (and even make funny remarks). I’m pretty sure their music and adrenaline-driven performance would eventually win the audience over. I’d heard of them before, but not the music, and for some reason I was convinced they were a death metal band. Wrong! Their sound is just as heavy but with lot of groove and a punk-rock irreverence that made my first expression – “stormed the stage” – quite literal. Around since 1999, the Lahti-based band has released four full-lengths so far and played a little bit from every one (well, almost every one – they left “Inherit The Void” out), kicking off with “Wastehead” and finishing with “Painbox”. It was my first time seeing them and hopefully not the last. And a longer setlist next time would be even better! (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Profane-Omen/42711203429

 photo _DSC0634_zpsjdpsfvlx.jpgNow HateSphere didn’t need any introduction to the Portuguese audience. Last time the Danish played here, in support of Hypocrisy, “Murderlust” had just been released – three days before – and we were hoping that they would return to promote it as headliners. That didn’t happen but it didn’t make the reaction of the fans less enthusiastic – some of them were there that night exclusively to see them perform.

Because of the delay, they had to cut their set shorter, beginning with “Reaper Of Life” instead of “Lies And Deceit”, as apparently was the original idea (I took a peak at the setlist, where “Lies…” was at the top, crossed all over by a black marker).  Still, as in any other HateSphere gig, they made the best of their available time, totally owning the place.

Since Trevor Strnad wasn’t there, it was the crowd that helped Esse singing “Iconoclast”, doing the same gesture of repeatedly raising the arms in the air, as it’s typical of The Black Dahlia Murder singer. “Oh, so you know the guy? Good!”, said Esse with a grin. He would also say we looked beautiful, even if he admitted he couldn’t see a thing, thanks to the smoke machine.

And speaking of helping singing… At some point, Esse turned the mic into someone in the crowd, and later he would actually pass it into someone else’s hands. Not sure if those “someones” were random as the first was Afonso Ribeiro, drummer in local band Gates Of Hell, and the second was Raça, former singer in that same band – a band who plays this cool little song called “Abusive Resolution”, where Esse did some guest vocals on its recording.

“Oceans” and “Sickness” were the two final songs, the latter entitled to the already traditional wall of death. The moshing that followed suit was even more intense than what had been until then and trust me – that says a lot. Once again we wish next time we’ll see them as headliners, like we did back in 2010, when still promoting “To The Nines”. One can always hope, right? (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/hatesphere666

 photo _DSC0935_zpsjo2fv883.jpgI know some people left after HateSphere, but still the room was more crowded for Finntroll than at the opening of the doors. That’s the downside of having a bill of so distinct genres – it reaches a wider range of public, more tickets are sold, but it doesn’t mean all the people will watch all the bands.

Between gigs there’s always background music playing, but this time we had… frogs. And crickets. A very nocturnal sound. I know that trolls live in swamps and “nattfödd” means “born at night”, but listening to that during the whole intermission was a bit too much. Or maybe it was my eagerness to see Finntroll after six years.

Without surprise, “Nattfödd” was performed in its entirety and then came the promotion of the latest “Blodsvept” (that’s actually two years old already – damn, time flies!) mixed with a bunch of classics. All drenched in beer and happy dancing.

Vreth was quite chatty, to which the crowd responded loud and cheerful. At some point he asked who had been at their last gig there and I was surprised that not many hands were raised. But then again, there were lots of kids at the venue, I suppose they weren’t old enough to attend a festival back in 2009… (I was there, took a few cool pics too: http://frontrowforever.net/2011/05/28/revisited-finntroll-caos-emergente-20090913/)

I believe it was after “Jaktens Tid” that they left the stage and the damn frogs echoed again until Finntroll returned for the encore. But by this time I was too pleased to be bothered by the croaking – these trolls don’t belong in the forest but definitely on stage. (5/5)

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https://www.facebook.com/officialfinntroll

Photos & text by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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)

www.facebook.com/HeadStoned.band

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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)

www.facebook.com/dragonhammer.official

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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)

www.facebook.com/FreedomCallOfficial

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino