Archive for VOA

VOA Fest 2016 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th August 2016 by Pieni

Kreator, Paradise Lost, Abbath, Schammasch, Equaleft, Soldier
Quinta da Marialva, Corroios (PT)
6th August 2016
Promoted by Prime Artists and PEV Entertainment

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This year saw a new start for Vagos Open Air, now simply known by its acronym VOA – new partnership among the promoters, new venue in a new city… The quality? Same as always. Of course all these changes brought along a lot of complaints (humans…), which I don’t see relevant to talk about; but regarding five out of the twelve bands being “recidivists” in the festival, I will say something. Sure, we live in a little country in the most Southwestern corner of Europe where it’s not always easy for an international band to reach – meaning the list of well-known names that never played here is endless and yes, it would be nice to shorten that list through a fest. But at the same time… if the band’s good, what’s so wrong about seeing it a dozen times? Hell, this was my 10th time seeing Paradise Lost and I loved it!
I’m not sure if this new place is smaller than the previous one. At first glance it seems so, as it’s definitely shorter in length. But it’s considerably larger in width, so… What really matters is that the stage was placed inside a natural amphitheater, surrounded by small hills, and if that prevented the wind to ease up the unholy heat (it’s been said this is the hottest summer since 1931), it also didn’t let the sound wander off beyond the festival zone.

13435327_1189167444435631_4832768569027046350_nBack to its original 2-day format, I sadly could only attend the second day. From what I’ve heard, Dark Oath did pretty well as the opening act. Not in front of the biggest crowd, but everybody knows how unfair playing first can be; still, it seems that a fair share of people enjoyed the symphonic/melodic death metal the national band had to offer, introducing the debut full-length “When Fire Engulfs The Earth”.
Italians Adimiron followed next and apparently also focused just on their latest release “Timelapse” (or so it says on setlist.fm). I confess I had never heard of them before, even if they’ve been around since 1999. Apparently, the same happened with most of the crowd, although eventually they surrendered to the band’s sound and performance.
Mantar’s “Ode To The Flame” has received a good feedback but the duo’s live performance not so much. Or maybe their fusion of black-doom-sludge-rock isn’t the right one for a festival, especially in day light. But then again, so shouldn’t be the depressive metal of Katatonia (I know I’ve seen them live in broad daylight a few years back and didn’t like it, despite being fond enough of the band) but I haven’t heard one single bad comment about the Swede’s performance – by the contrary! But I guess Katatonia will always be Katatonia. Played a few songs from the latest “The Fall Of Hearts” along a bunch of older hits.
When Anathema got on stage it was already dark. They haven’t released anything new in two years, but they’ve got a very special place in the hearts of our metal community – always had, not since Daniel Cardoso joined their ranks. So it’s only natural that I also heard only good things about their gig.
Finally, Opeth. I remember the last time I’ve seen them, precisely at this festival, two years ago, the show was pretty disappointed for the majority of the fans, as the band seemed uninspired. They made up for it now. The title-track of their upcoming album has been rolling on Youtube for over a week but they didn’t play it, sticking to the older stuff their fans love the most.

010Now the second day, that I actually witnessed. I arrived around 15:20, the “Blackhearts” documentary was still playing on the video walls. There were a few people watching it but not many – I’ve mentioned the heat already, haven’t I?
In previous editions, the first band of each day was always Portuguese, so having a Spanish opening act was a first – thrashers Soldier did the honors. VOA is part of their “The Great Western Oligarchy tour 2016”, named after their latest album. Solid riffing, a clear invitation to headbanging, to which the crowd – once again, not that big at that early hour – took pleasure in oblige. Not much talking between songs, as there was only half an hour to play, but one could see how pleased they were for being there, given the constant funny faces and broad smiles. Happy and nice bunch of people, I believe, and competent musicians. “Revolt”, from the debut “Gas Powered Jesus”, closed their set.

www.facebook.com/soldierband

040Equaleft was up next and the national underground could hardly be better represented. I can’t find the right words to express how proud I am for them and their achievements in these past years. After opening for Gojira last month (see here), I believe playing in a fest like this was one of the few milestones they had to reach yet on Portuguese soil and now it’s done. Go Equaleft!
The follow-up to “Adapt & Survive” is in the making but nothing ready to be shared yet, so they focused on their acclaimed debut. It’s “Maniac” now that closes their sets, not “Invigorate” anymore, but this hit still features singer Miguel, a.k.a. Jedi Mig, wielding a light saber. Soldier’s thrash was entitled to some mosh circles, but it was Equaleft’s groove that made “the dust rise up from the ground”, as I heard someone say.

www.facebook.com/equaleft

057The promo pic of Schammasch on the festival page shows us four guys in bare upper-bodies. I bet they regretted deeply not going on stage like that – 34ᵒC is “a bit” too much to wear long robes. Singer/guitarist C.S.R., with black paint on his face and hands and whose robe included a hood, was probably who suffered the most, even if he barely moved throughout the whole gig. He even admitted at some point that it was “boiling” up there. So kudos for their resistance.
The music itself deserves some applause too, even if their avant-garde black metal cut down the adrenaline that both previous bands rose up. Still, mainly songs from their latest “Triangle” and at least one off “Contradiction” (“Golden Light”, if I’m not mistaken) were cheered by the crowd.

www.facebook.com/SCHAMMASCH

078It’s always hard to distinguish a solo artist from a band when the latter is named after said artist – and even so when most of the setlist is comprised of songs the artist played with previous projects. That’s what happened with Abbath. With a 75-minute slot, I understand that even if he/they had played the only released album in full, there would still be plenty of time to kill. But playing four Abbath songs among one of I and six of Immortal… I know they’re not seen exactly as covers by the fans, especially when they were thrilled to listen to “Nebular Ravens Winter” (this one’s even recorded in “Abbath”, the album) and “Tyrants” and “All Shall Fall”, but it still felt weird. Apart from the weirdness, it was super. Black metal lovers were offered a great show of the genre – even if the sun was still high up – and those who didn’t like it particularly could always enjoy Abbath and bassist King’s “evil” faces.

www.facebook.com/abbathband

083As aforementioned, Paradise Lost made my day. Nick Holmes acknowledged the “beautiful new venue” of the fest and said how good it was to be back. And with such a rich and diverse setlist, I doubt someone didn’t feel the same way about their return. From recent songs like “No Hope In Sight” to tracks from “a time when most of you weren’t even born” like “Rapture”, we revisited some of Paradise Lost’s highlights through time.
While drinking Super Bock, probably Portugal’s most popular beer, Nick mentioned its alcohol content – 5,6 % – and said that such beer would be banned in the U.K. because it could turn them into animals. When he associated it with football, the laughter was even louder.
As co-headliners, they could afford an encore, which happened after “Say Just Words” – by the way, from the same album they also played the title-track “One Second” that, according to Nick, they hadn’t played in a while (I checked and apparently the last had been two months prior). ”Flesh From Bone” was one of the four songs of said encore, its death-doom nature – so old-school PL in such a recent song – leading Nick to say “it feels like the last 25 years never happened”. “The Last Time” wrapped it up and I really, really hope this was far from the last time that I’ve seen them.

www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial

114When entering the photo-pit for Kreator we were advised to stay somewhat away from the stage during the first song – “Enemy Of God”, as it turned out – so we were hoping for some fireworks. Imagine our disappointment when it was just confetti… Oh well. On the other hand, I’m glad it wasn’t anything dangerous, as staying away meant closer to the barriers and that was nearly impossible – the mosh and crowdsurf began with practically the first riff and the security guys needed space to attend to all of them enthusiastic metalheads. Mille Petrozza did ask more than once for circles and screams “Portuguese style” but he really didn’t need to – he was already getting that from the start.
I hadn’t realized until now that their last studio album was already four years old (review here). But worry not – Mille said they were working on the follow-up to “Phantom Antichrist” and that it should be out next year. The reception of this news was loud, but when Mille said he wanted to come back as headliners of their own tour, the crowd’s roar was thunderous. Say what you will about thrash and all these “dinosaurs” like Kreator doing the same thing over and over – legends are legends and will always be welcomed.
VOA experienced “Extreme Aggression” in a “Violent Revolution” brought up by “Hordes Of Chaos” filled with “Pleasure To Kill”, and this year’s edition finished with the “Flag Of Hate” raised by a “Betrayer”. Looking forward for next year’s experiences!

www.facebook.com/KreatorOfficial

A special thanks to the promoters, to Raising Legends and Equaleft for the ride and Mosher Clothing for keeping an eye on my stuff and letting me enjoy the shade of their merch stand.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Full gallery on our Facebook page here.

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Vagos Open Air 2015 – 3rd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th August 2015 by Pieni

Ironwsword, Bloodbath, Overkill, Orphaned Land, Alestorm, Ne Obliviscaris, Midnight Priest
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
9th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Bloodbath

Last year, Prime Artists added one more day to the festival and the change was meant to stay. So here we were, on the third, last and more diverse day of Vagos Open Air 2015.

Personally, I still see Midnight Priest as an Iron Maiden and Judas Priest rip-off, but whether the crowd thought the same or not, they didn’t seem to care, banging those heads to songs like “Into The Nightmare” or “Rainha da Magia Negra” (Black Magic Queen). It’s a festival, a party, and they’re making copy+paste of some legendary riffs, so not even the broken high pitches of singer Lex Thunder ruined the mood. It was the shortest set of the day and it finished with “À Boleia Com o Diabo” (Hitchhiking with the Devil).

www.facebook.com/midnightpriest

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Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris are touring the world thanks to a crowdfunding but I didn’t know so many of their fans came from Portugal – besides the wild crowd they had during the show, the signing session/meet & greet lasted more than the one-hour gig itself! I guess the guys from down under were just as surprised, but obviously happy. And it was deserved. Their extreme prog is exquisite and seductive enough to stand out from the other bands on the bill, but then the way they performed it – even in hot daylight – was more than enthralling to everyone who’s into that kind of music. And some of them had the chance to hold singer/violinist Tim Charles on the last song, “And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope”, as he jumped into the crowd and crowdsurfed.  Promising to come back as soon as possible, they all left the stage smiling.

www.facebook.com/NeObliviscarisBand

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Alestorm

The original bill featured Halestorm and, as I think I’ve told you before, here in Portugal we like stronger stuff. There was a lot of moaning on how they should bring Alestorm instead. Then Halestorm had to cancel – not sure why and don’t really care, as cancelling a gig due to “a scheduling conflict” sounds like a poor excuse, and therefore disrespectful to their fans – and the “bring Alestorm, you only have to remove the H!” request was all over the place. And Prime Artists answered the call! The Scottish pirates (who claim coming from the “darkest depths of the Caribbean”) came and conquered with their inebriating (yeah, pun intended) folk. Talking about how they could sense our smell when introducing “The Famous Ol’ Spiced” or how they weren’t here to steal our potatoes but to drink our beer (“Drink”), this was probably the happiest show of the whole fest.

www.facebook.com/alestormband

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Orphaned Land

I’ve seen Orphaned Land a few times and know how popular they are here, but still Kobi Farhi felt the need to explain to the crowd that he wasn’t Jesus Christ, he only looked like him. In fact, he couldn’t be Jesus as he wasn’t a virgin and made a lot of sex.  After such a fun gig of Alestorm, so much different from the soberer Middle Eastern metal of Orphaned Land, I guess an ice-breaking remark like this was needed, but Kobi always has something amusing to say. Not sure which song he introduced by singing some The Doors verse, but that early evening we could hear oldies such as “Sapari”, “In Thy Never Ending Way” or “Norra El Norra” mixed with more recent ones like “All Is One”, “Let The Truce Be Known” or “The Simple Man” (the latter dedicated to us). All with a lot of clapping-to-the-rhythm and sing-alongs. Beautiful concert, so the news of an upcoming acoustic tour, which will include Portugal, was more than welcome.

www.facebook.com/OrphanedLandOfficial

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Overkill

Thrash metal returned to Vagos in the form of Overkill – our “ugly cousins from New Jersey”, as Bobby Blitz himself described them. They indeed have a solid, crazy fan-base here – fans that make Bobby feel like he’s fifty again. Yes, fifty, not fifteen – he’s not only a top thrash metal singer and owner of a chocolate shop, he’s also a humorist. The chosen tracks to represent their latest “White Devil Armory” were “Armorist” and “Bitter Pill”; the rest were the usual classics such as “Necroshine”, “In Union We Stand”, “Rotten To The Core”, “Horrorscope”, “Hello From The Gutter”… I confess that after the little speech about brotherhood, my brain whispered “bastard nation” when Bobby said “’cause we are”, but the sentence finished with “Ironbound” after all. I wonder if I’ll ever hear “Bastard Nation” live ever again. The gig finished with the mandatory “Fuck You”, and just like three years before (see here), Bobby provoked us with “is this Portugal or España?”, when he wanted to hear us louder. And just like in that other V.O.A. edition – in fact like every time someone tells us such words – it worked.

www.facebook.com/OverkillWreckingCrew

If you’re one of those who saw Nick Holmes joining Bloodbath with very skeptical eyes, it’s about time to dismiss that feeling: the guy is definitely up to it! I had the confirmation with the release of “Grand Morbid Funeral” last November, but the ultimate trial by fire is always on stage. And when you’re a Paradise Lost fan for about 20 years, like I am, you also know that it may take you a couple of shows to get that proof, as Nick’s mood affects his performance proportionally.

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Bloodbath

But as soon as “Old Nick” addressed the audience, by the way he said “We’re Bloodbath from Sweden and Yorkshire. I’m the one from Yorkshire” I could tell he was in an excellent mood, meaning he would also excel in this show. And he did. Bloodbath played a little something from the four albums they’ve released so far, pleasing old and new fans, and giving Nick the chance to show how the songs once sung by Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Tägtgren weren’t lessened at all by his vocal tone and skills. “Eaten” and “Cry My Name” were the encore of the probably most brutal gig of Vagos 2015.

www.facebook.com/bloodbathband

It’s not easy for an underground band to wrap up a festival with so many international famous names. Many people left after Bloodbath, but many also stayed to see national heavy metal veterans Ironsword. Along with Filii Nigrantium Infernalium the previous night, they were also special guests in this festival, and once more I believe it was anniversary related – the band celebrated their 20th this year. But also have a new album out, “None But The Brave”, released last May, which their setlist was pretty focused on. In the end of its title-track, singer/guitarist Tann said something about how we were entitled to a special version of this new song, but since I’m not that familiar with their work, I don’t know if it was really some “special version” or if someone messed up and they had to improvise. Whatever the case, they did good and some vigorous fans screamed IRONSWORD, IRONSWORD!”. “Burning Metal” wasn’t just the last song but also the description of the show.

www.facebook.com/IronswordOfficial

And it was over. Three days that seemed to last forever and, at the same time, so quickly went by. That’s how good memories feel like, I suppose. Well, let the preparations for Vagos 2016 begin!

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th August 2015 by Pieni

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

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Black Label Society

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

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W.A.K.O.

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.

www.facebook.com/Extispicium

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Mutant Squad

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.

www.facebook.com/mutantsquadband

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”.

www.facebook.com/destruction

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Triptykon

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.

www.facebook.com/triptykonofficial

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Black Label Society

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”.

www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety

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Venom

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.

www.facebook.com/pages/Venom-Band/197558207048784

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”.

www.facebook.com/FiliiNigrantiumInfernalium

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.

Vagos Open Air 2015 – 1st day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th August 2015 by Pieni

Within Temptation, Amorphis, Heaven Shall Burn, Vildhjarta, Moonshade, Scar For Life
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
7th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists

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Within Temptation

There’s a handful of great metal festivals in Portugal, but Vagos Open Air is the one that focus on international acts (without disregarding the local ones) and reaches out to a broader, not always so-extreme audience. This year we even had Within Temptation headlining the first day, while Bloodbath had the honor of doing so on the third. And if you’ve read some of my previous articles, you might know how one of my favorite quotes is “diversity is the spice of life”.

It was precisely due to Within Temptation’s busy schedule that the festival was anticipated one hour. I don’t know why they simply didn’t swap slots with Amorphis – it’s not like they’d lose the headliner status – but in the end I was glad they didn’t. Vagos is a somewhat windy town, but this year one could drop the “somewhat” out of the sentence. And add cold. So that extra hour in the sun was more than welcome, for a change.

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Moonshade

Not sure if Scar For Life share my opinion though. But then again, despite their 7-year-old career and 4-album discography, they’re not exactly the most popular alternative/groovy metal band around here – even if they’d got on stage at 5 p.m., as originally announced, I doubt there would be a lot more people attending their show. And then they had some sound problems, which may have (or may have not…) led singer Rob Mancini to go often out of tune, and the crowd eventually got even scarcer. It’s a shame, really.

www.facebook.com/scarforlife

Moonshade, on the other hand, proved worthy of V.O.A.’s stage. “A small band”, as singer Ricardo Pereira described themselves, when thanking the crowd for coming and seeing them, but with a good live posture and performance. I was at the release party of their latest EP (see here), so I knew what to expect; still, it was a positive surprise to see how well it worked in a less intimate atmosphere and before such a more numerous audience.

www.facebook.com/moonshadeofficial

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Vildhjarta

I was a little puzzled by Vildhjarta’s presence in this festival. A Meshuggah-like band who hasn’t released anything new in two years nor have near-future plans except for a vinyl edition of their only full-length “Måsstaden”. An experimental metal band who doesn’t even appear to play live that much, Brutal Assault in Czech Republic and Vagos itself apparently being the only dates this year. I guess that “little puzzled” is an understatement after all. But you know what? The crowd loved them! What I and many were skeptical about ended up in a big party, not only for the exquisite music but for the amusing guys who performed it. One of them – not sure if Vilhelm or Mynd – asking if we’d like some tea was kind of priceless.

www.facebook.com/vildhjartaofficial

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Heaven Shall Burn

But it was Heaven Shall Burn who swept Vagos off its feet. Literally. The moshers and crowdsurfers had a field day. And the screamers too, as I believe this was the show with the loudest chorus sing-alongs in songs such as “Forlorn Skies”, the Edge Of Sanity cover of “Black Tears” or “Like Gods Among Mortals”. 15 years had passed since the last (and actually first) time the Germans had played in Portugal but as soon as singer Marcus Bischoff announced “Voice Of The Voiceless”, the fans knew exactly what to do and aligned for a wall of death, with no need for further instructions.  Still regarding that first show, it seemed that no one had been there. Well, almost no one. One hand was raised when Marcus asked about it, joking then with the guy in response “oh yeah, you’re old enough”. But they also had the “youngest metal fan”, a 6-year-old kid who they called on stage close to the end. The kid was a bit confused, but headbanged his long hair here and there, marking the cutest moment of the whole festival.

www.facebook.com/officialheavenshallburn

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Amorphis

Amorphis‘ show was as brilliant as HSB’s, but on another kind of level – whereas the Germans exceled in adrenaline, the Finns did it in intensity. The main reason is, obviously, the nature of each band, but the fact that Amorphis were celebrating 20 years of the legendary “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” added an unmatched emotional weight. Performed in its entirety in such a flawless, heartfelt way, you even forgot that Tomi Joutsen wasn’t the singer who recorded the album. The setlist was completed by a couple of songs from the very first “The Karelian Isthmus” (“Signs From The North Side” and “Vulgar Necrolatry”) and the most classic tracks from “Elegy”.

www.facebook.com/amorphis

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Within Temptation

Then Within Temptation soothed the moods down. Well, the “most metal” fans’ moods that is. The ones who liked the band were quite hyped by the pop-ish vibrancy of the Dutch. As headliners, they had enough time to promote their latest album, “Hydra”, and still visit all the others (except for the debut “Enter”, which I doubt they’ll ever play again, given the so much different style). One of the old ones was “Memories”, that Sharon den Adel said they hadn’t played in a long while and liked to dedicate to us. Among the newest we could hear “Paradise (What About Us?)”, “Dangerous” and “Covered By Roses”, and the Lana Del Rey cover of “Summertime Sadness”. No, not a metal gig, but that proverbial expression “they rocked!” was brought to life. Plus, Sharon is still able to jump around and sing at the same time without missing a note, not to mention the interaction she engages on with the crowd. So give it up, haters. It was a good show, that ended with the mandatory “Ice Queen”.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.

Vagos Open Air 2015 closes its bill, adding two special guests

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 12th May 2015 by Pieni

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Portugal’s Vagos Open Air continues to grow. Last year, it extended its original two-day festivities to three, and this year opened up one more slot on the Saturday and Sunday line-ups. Those slots were taken by two Portuguese bands, granting promoters Prime Artists a thumbs-up for supporting the country’s metal scene. So this is how it’s going to play out (headliner-to-opener order):

Friday, 7 August:
WITHIN TEMPTATION (NL)
AMORPHIS (FI)
HEAVEN SHALL BURN (DE)
VILDHJARTA (SE)
MOONSHADE (PT)
SCAR FOR LIFE (PT)

Saturday, 8 August:
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY (USA)
VENOM (UK)
TRIPTYKON (CHE)
DESTRUCTION (DE)
MUTANT SQUAD (ES)
W.A.K.O. (PT)
FILII NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM (PT, special guests)

Sunday, 9 August:
BLOODBATH (SE)
OVERKILL (USA)
HALESTORM (USA)
ORPHANED LAND (IL)
NE OBLIVISCARIS (AU)
MIDNIGHT PRIEST (PT)
IRONSWORD (PT, special guests)

Taking place once again at Quinta do Ega, you can find all info on its official homepage: http://www.vagosopenair.eu/index_en.html

Vagos Open Air 2014 – 3rd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd August 2014 by Pieni

Gojira, Paradise Lost, Vita Imana, The Quartet Of Woah!, MURK, Opus Diabolicum
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
10th August 2014

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Third and last day of Vagos Open Air 2014. It had rained a bit in the morning, so the dust had settled down. On the other hand, the water mixed with sour beer and other spilt liquids was starting to stink…

First band was Opus Diabolicum. The die-hard Moonspell fans will recognize this name from one of their early songs (from the 20-year-old EP “Under The Moonspell”, in case you’re not familiar with it). The name isn’t a coincidence, since Opus Diabolicum did with Moonspell the same that Apocalyptica did with Metallica – instrumental covers in cellos.
The gig didn’t kick off very well. After just a couple of minutes they had to interrupt due to a problem in the cello on the right (I wish I could tell you the name of the musician, but their Facebook page doesn’t mention names). And since none of the other two addressed to the audience, the silence became a little awkward. But when the cello was back in order, they attacked those strings with “Opium” and the crowd soon forgot the incident, singing the lyrics strongly. I confess I wasn’t expecting such a great feedback and I’m happy I was wrong about it. Of course they played some Moonspell key-hits, and that might have helped – “Vampiria”, “Nocturna”, “Scorpion Flower” – and such any Moonspell gig, they wrapped it up with “Alma Mater” and “Fullmoon Madness”. Neat! (4/5)

Opus Diabolicum official Facebook

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MURK – the “alternative death metal” Portuguese band, not the black metal Italian one – were up next. Never had heard of them before, not even when they were going by the name Sattor, and that started back in 2005. Apart from the EP “Tyrants Of Decay” they’ve released early this year, it seems that they’ve only released another EP (“Seeds Of Perseverance”) as Sattor. One must wonder why a band with just two extended plays out in a less than 10-year-old career was chosen for such a big event as Vagos Open Air. It’s commendable, of course, that Prime Artists support the national underground, but we have so many bands with a bigger discography and a larger fan base (there were some MURK fans present, truth be told) that it just seems unfair the promoters chose this band. it wasn’t a bad concert – the highlight on “Footprint Of God”, apparently – but it wasn’t a spectacular one either, despite their ritualistic gear and makeup. (3/5)

MURK official Facebook

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Now The Quartet Of Woah!, despite being formed just 4 years ago, they’ve been playing non-stop recently and making their name known. Well-known, actually, as their live shows are pretty… lively! I wasn’t expecting that, since I was told they were a stoner band. But unlike most stoner rock bands, they don’t focus on the bluesy and depressive doom side of the genre but on the heavy metal and psychedelic rock instead – hence the high voltage of their shows. It’s all there, though, in a classy mix, but it’s the heaviest and fastest elements they bring to life the most. Gonçalo Kotowicz was unmistakably happy, giving a quick (the time was short) but heartfelt thank you to Vagos. Songs like “U Turn”, “Balance” and the latest “BackwardsFirstliners” brought a sixties/seventies 5-star vibe to the festival. (5/5)

The Quartet Of Woah! official Facebook

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Spanish Vita Imana was another surprise – one that so far gets my gold medal in the category “Top surprises of 2014”. Whoever told me they were a thrash metal band forgot to mention they were also tribal and ‘core, otherwise I’d be more or less warned of the adrenaline discharge I was about to witness. A big emphasis on “more or less”, as I wouldn’t have expected that anyway. Here’s a band who knows what live gigs are all about! Their sound is mosher-friendly by nature, true, but if it wasn’t for Vita Imana’s tornado-wise attitude – especially singer’s Javier Cardoso, whose jumps were quite epic – the response of the crowd wouldn’t have been so explosive. “Gondwana”, “Quizás No Sea Nadie” or “Paranoia” were just a few of the songs that made the circles go crazy. (5/5)

Vita Imana official Facebook

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I guess everybody knows by now that a Paradise Lost gig is either very good or sucks dish water, there’s no middle term. It all depends on Nick Holmes’ mood. Holmes not only was in a great mood, his voice was in the strongest shape ever – this being my 9th Paradise Lost concert in 17 years, trust me, I know what I’m saying.
With a very serious face, Holmes said Paradise Lost have been around since the fifties/forties (told you he was in a good mood) while introducing “Gothic” – the oldest track of that night’s setlist, released in 1991 and not, obviously, in the ‘40s. Don’t know if he’s going through some midlife crisis, but he would later hint on the band’s “antiquity” again by saying that the following song was a hit that had been playing for decades and he expected to continue so. If you’re a hardcore fan of Paradise Lost, you know he meant “As I Die”.
They left the stage after “True Belief” – my all-time favorite, I confess – and someone started screaming for them. Soon a massive “PARADISE LOST, PARADISE LOST!” echoed. They would return for a 3-song encore, Holmes thanking once again (I lost count on how many times he said thank you). After the very last “Say Just Words”, the band took a selfie with a delighted crowd, all horns-up, in the back. Don’t worry about your age, Mr. Holmes. At 43, you’re still able to pull off amazing performances that many 20-year-olds can only achieve in their dreams. (5/5)

Paradise Lost official Facebook

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However, this was Gojira’s night. I believe the Portuguese fans have been asking for the French band since the very first Vagos edition. As for them, they claimed they’d been expecting to play in Portugal for 18 years – meaning since they first were founded, still as Godzilla. Yeah, yeah, I know they all say nice things about the countries/cities they’re visiting for the first time, or haven’t visited in a long while, but in this case I believe, as the Duplantier brothers have Portuguese roots (grandmother) and they’ve visited the country many times before, as tourists. Now that they made it as a band and had such a thunderous reception, I’m pretty sure they’ll do their best to return soon.
The security guys had their hands full – literally – from the very first seconds (yeah, seconds) of “Explosia” to the last ones of “Where Dragons Dwell”. A high-five to all of them for the excellent job they did, not only at helping the kids on the “landing” but also in guiding them into the best path of hands and heads.
Peak moments? All of them! But I can’t stop mentioning the inflatable dolphin that bounced back and forth over the crowd on “Flying Whales”. Cute!
It was hard to accept the gig had come to an end. Joe said what must have been all the pleasantries he knew in Portuguese while everybody screamed “GOJIRA, GOJIRA!” at the top of their lungs. But it was over. And unforgettable. (5/5)

Gojira official Facebook

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

More pics in our Facebook page HERE.

Vagos Open Air 2014 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21st August 2014 by Pieni

Opeth, Annihilator, Behemoth, The Haunted, Angelus Apatrida, Requiem Laus
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
9th August 2014

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Author António Parada wrote a thriller full of heavy metal connotations called “A Guardiã” (the guardian), so he thought Vagos Open Air was suitable for a presentation. I confess I totally forgot about it, so I didn’t arrive to Quinta do Ega in time of watching it. I doubt there will be an English version of it anyway, but if it happens, I’ll let you know.

Despite the 1-day tickets for Saturday being sold out and their much longer career – 16 years longer, to be exact –, Requiem Laus didn’t have a crowd as big as Gates Of Hell had had the previous day. Singer Miguel said this was their return to the stages, after two years and a half (personally, I hadn’t seen them in 7), so maybe that’s why their sound seemed so alien to the majority of the crowd. Plus they’re somewhat… introvert. Good musicians, with great death-blackish songs such as “Reflection Of God” or “Impulse”, which they performed there, but they enjoy the music on their own, not reaching out to the crowd much. So sadly they didn’t get an effusive response to their gig. (3/5)

Requiem Laus official Facebook

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Angelus Apatrida, on the other hand, unleashed hell – kicking off with “Violent Dawn”, violent is the right word to describe the circles. The Spanish thrash metal act has a solid fan base here, but even if they didn’t, the moshers would have quickly surrendered. Guitarist David G. Álvarez suffered a motorcycle accident back in March and his right leg is still on a cast. But even sitting down on a chair, he moved his upper body like there was no tomorrow. Those guys know how to be on stage and a broken leg doesn’t change that.
Among the short occasions Guillermo Izquierdo addressed the crowd – they had little time to play, so he didn’t want to waste it with talking – he mentioned they were once again recording at Switchtense’s studio (Ultrasound Studios). That meant a lot to the people, not only because it implied a new album, but also because it’s a Portuguese studio. (5/5)

Angelus Apatrida official Facebook

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Not sure when The Haunted had played here last, but it’d been quite a while. To say the crowd was eager for this gig is an understatement. And while you can never read Jonas Björler’s expression, Marco Aro’s was one of true happiness throughout the whole show, so I guess at least he was just as elated as the people watching them. Hell, he was so enthusiastic that he hit the mic against his forehead a few times until it bled, and didn’t attend to the wound until he was off stage! Anyway, whatever the others were feeling, they put everything they’ve got into the performance and all expectations were met. From “99” to “Hate Song”, going through “Undead”, “No Compromise” and the new “Eye Of The Storm” (by the way, the new album “Exit Wounds” is out in just a few days – 25th August) the “mosh ‘em all” motto in the back of Aro’s t-shirt was fulfilled. (5/5)

The Haunted official Facebook

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But in my humble opinion, it was Behemoth who put up the greatest show – even in daylight! They were also missing their cobra microphone stands and some other paraphernalia, just the cloaks and make-up. And the horned masks they wear during the final prayer of “O Father O Satan O Sun!”. Meaning the excellence of their show was due to their music – hand-picked songs from the last six albums – and attitude on stage: Seth’s “hairbanging”, Orion’s mean faces, Inferno’s sharp beats and, of course, Nergal’s leadership. I don’t think he spoke a word to the audience, but the weight of his stare on us and how he yelled at us to yell back had more communication than a speech. Simply amazing the power Behemoth holds on stage. (5/5)

Behemoth official Facebook

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In their own old-school way, Annihilator were top as well. They released a new album last year, titled “Feast”, so they played a few songs in order to promote it – “Smear Campaign”, which opened the show, “No Way Out” and “Deadlock”. Then, apart from the funny country-metal song “Chicken & Corn” (a hidden track featured in “Carnival Diablos”, from 2001), every other track was +20 years old. What a trip to the past, from where I personally highlight “King Of The Kill”, “Set The World On Fire” and – you guessed! – “Alison Hell”. Thrash metal at its best!
There was one thing I couldn’t stop noticing. When Jeff Waters was introducing the band, he mentioned Oscar Rangel’s Mexican nationality right before he introduce Dave Padden. Or at least that’s what I understood; Padden got it otherwise and said quickly, somewhat annoyed “I’m not Mexican”. I guess I’d be annoyed too if I thought that, after working with someone for 12 years, he still didn’t get my roots right. Still I think Padden could’ve had a different reaction, maybe make a joke out of it, as there were a few awkward seconds between the two guitarists. But nothing significant enough to ruin the 5 stars the gig deserves. (5/5)

Annihilator official Facebook

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Now Opeth… I’ll start with something Mikael Åkerfeldt said at some point, regarding a song I honestly can’t remember the name, but he said that “if it sounds like a fuck-up, it isn’t. It’s just us being progressive”. And this is more or less what I think of prog. Nope, it’s definitely not my cup of tea. I recognize the high quality of some of the bands/artists, but I just can’t like it. So me, and many others like me, wouldn’t have enjoyed the show (apart from Åkerfeldt’s jokes, that is). The thing is that even among the die-hard Opeth fans there are mixed feelings about the Vagos show. Some complained about the “soft” setlist, others about the somewhat shallow performance… and then there are those who were simply enthralled from the moment “The Devil’s Orchard” started to the one where “Blackwater Park” stopped. They have played VOA two years ago, and I’ve also seen them at the 9th (and last) anniversary show of the original Hard Club, and this was the weakest of those three. But like I said, prog isn’t my thing, so I could be wrong… I still laughed when he said they came from Stockholm, where other great metal bands came from, like Entombed, Dismember, Bathory… and ABBA. That the next song was actually “Super Trouper” (it was “Heir Apparent”). Or when he said it smelled like dead cat in his armpit. Or when he told a girl she could lower the “teddy-crocodile” as he didn’t know that song (it was a dinosaur plushie with a sign asking for “Coil”). Still there was something missing in his attitude – even I noticed that. Was it a bad concert? No, I can’t say that. But Opeth can do better. (4/5)

Opeth official Facebook

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

More pics in our Facebook page HERE.