In the heart of Alentejo, arose in a new venue the 7th edition of SMSF – Santa Maria Summer Fest, in Beja. 3 days of extreme music, some other exotic and different events, but all with one thing in common: diversity and a long wish to triumph.
The band who had the honors to open the main stage was Hexecutor, heavy metal from France. It was probably the perfect way to open the festival, with speed / thrash and an old school feeling. Playing under a burning sun, that was still shining at 19h, these full leather guys delivered a great gig showing that old school heavy metal is still alive, and has some brilliant new executors.
Following them was Amulet, classic heavy metal from London. With a sound lost in between the 70’s ending and the 80’s beginning, they’ve put up a great performance, mostly with songs from their album “The First”. The show was so good that started to gather some more curious people around the stage, despite the heat, to see the 5 piece band deliver so well that old school heavy metal feeling.
Caronte, shamanic doom from Italy, launched a very dark and deep shadow over the crowd, with a heavy characteristic doom sound bringing with them the album “Church of Shamanic Goetia”, to present to an audience that seemed to enjoy the gig with songs connected to esotericism, and occultism.
On the forest stage, proving credits for most of the audience, Trepid Elucidation from Lisboa, brought to Beja their technical death / slam, and gave a good gig, a feast for the ears for all the fans of genre and for the audience, proving that these youngsters are a solid team, and we can only hope for good things from them in the future, judging by the single “Diminished Into a Spacetime Interval”.
Ironsword, heavy metal trio also from the capital city, brought to the main stage of the fest their epic metal, with a performance that delighted the crowd and got some heads banging, especially on the songs “Forging the Sword” and “Ring of Fire”, from their latest album “None But the Brave”. The sound was perfect for this one.
Late in the evening, Forgotten Tomb cast over the audience their doom black metal with some melodic lines, and confirmed their status as headliners of the day. With their best album so far “Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love”, they’ve catch some more ears, and we could witness not only a perfect performance, but also see that the audience was standing there digging their sound.
Playing punk mixed with hardcore in their own ground, Ventas de Esterko from Alentejo regrouped after some years out, and gave a great gig in the forest stage, with a very funny but incisive frontman RozA leading the performance of the band, powered by songs like “Vitimas do Sistema”, “Ergue a Tua Voz”, e “Pode ser Que Se Fodam”.
Harakiri For the Sky, brought along with them from Austria a post black metal a bit too generic at some points, but enough to please the crowd that was there to see them. They didn’t communicate with the audience, even though the crowd didn’t left to see and hear most songs taken from their albums “Aokigahara”, and the self-titled “Harakiri for the Sky”.
One of the most charismatic Portuguese punk rock artists ever, Mata Ratos, have shown in Beja why they are a force not to be taken lightly when they go live, and also it was one of the best gigs of the festival. They’ve played songs like “Outra Rodada”, “Amor Eterno”, and the classic “A Minha Sogra é um Boi”, that delighted the audience, judging by amount of people thereand the moshing at the venue. A truly great day!
The second day of the festival opened with the first exotic and different act, Paulo Colaço, which brought to the festival his“campaniça” guitar along with songs in the Portuguese dialect from Alentejo. Something in between the folk and the rock, the audience could heard in the forest stage both sounds, and also had good laughs listening to the stories behind the songs, characteristic from the simple but warm hearted people of Beja.
The trio from Braga M.I.L.F. (Music In Low Frequencies), opened the main stage of this second day. With Sérgio Ferreira on guitar, Mariana Faísca on vocals, and Diogo Vale on drums, they’ve played a consistant gig, with a sound in between the most modern extreme metal and the classical death metal, that gathered a few curious about their sound around the stage.
Starting a bit late, Celtibeerian brought from Spain their folk metal with a lot of different instruments on stage, adding to the metal basis (guitars and drums), whistles, bagpipes, and violin. Songs like “Praise to the Vineyards”, and “Fields of Celtiberia”, delighted the crowd that started dancing and moshing around the stage, despite the burning heat, that some people couldn’t handle, although they were seeing the gig underneath the tent of the sound technician.
Later in the evening, it was time for the retched Cripple Bastards hit the stage and show to Beja their grindcore in full power. Bringing with them the latest record “Nero in metastasi”, the gig was great leaving no one indifferent to their sound, and to their performance, judging by the amount of people that surrounded the main stage.
One of the most awaited acts, and festival headliners for the day, Sinister from Netherlands put up with a demolishing performance, showing what a great death metal gig is all about, taking nothing for granted and standing up for their history. A lot of people around the stage, moshing and headbanging, delighted not only the band, but everyone as well that didn’t knew the band. They’ve played a setlist very diverse, covering more than 25 years of death metal mastery.
Bizarra Locomotiva is a band known for putting up great performances, and gather in their events an impressive number of followers that didn’t miss the call in Beja. The band did everything they’ve possible could to deliver what people were expecting from them, despite some technical problems, that the band was desperately trying to avoid. SidónioPais came to the audience, party with them, defied them, and that’s what we’re going to take from this gig.
Another different act from the usual, was waiting the audience that stood curious for some time around the main stage, watching Spiritual Front. They play some kind of very dark and macabre pop rock with melodic melodies typically Italian. The trio delivered a good show, certainly different, from where it stood a great song called “Jesus Died in Las Vegas”.
In the forest stage, something more brutal was expecting the audience, as Bleeding Display delivered a great death metal show, with all the elements that it should have. The audience seemed pleased by the band’s performance, judging by the moshers in front of the stage, and the amount of people there, which made the tent small for the many that came to watch the show.
Late at night as it supposed to be, closing the acts for the day at the main stage, Phantom Vision put up a good performance, certainly different from most of the metal bands, since their sound is more based in 80’s goth and electronic melodies. Counting with a female dancer in some songs, adding a different flavor to the show, as the voice of Morcego lead the songs. He himself danced along as the most active member on stage, and they deserved the encore.
In a day specially dedicated to black metal, Empty was the first band that under a burning sun, opened the main stage, with a very generic black metal, that kept some people around the stage, but since the sun was so strong, most of that went to the tent of the sound technician and from there, watched the band presenting songs from the latest album “EticaProfanaNegativa”.
Continuing on black metal, Blasphemium hit the stage this time adding to their sound some keyboards and a better presence on stage. The sun was still shining bright for a black metal gig at 19h, nothing that moved the people away, as they appreciated the gig. Presenting songs from their only album “Obscure Aurea Celestium”, it was a competent concert.
By 8 o’clock, it was time for one of the most known Portuguese underground black metal acts, Decayed to hit the stage. They gave a good performance despite the heat, certainly leaving most of the audience that went there on this Saturday evening to witness their performance, which ended with the classic “Fuck Your God!”.
IXXI from Sweden we’re the next to hit the stage with a black metal sound more closely to thrash, something typically from most of the Swedish black metal bands. With the latest album “Skulls n Dust” under their belt, consistency was the key word for this performance, leaving no one indifferent to their sound, in a venue already very well composed.
With the sun already away and distant, and with the place packed, Rotting Christ has headliners of the festival presented the audience with an amazing show, very tribal, strong, consistent, and proving that they are one of most original black metal acts that after all these years, can still surprise a crowd. Presenting songs like “ZeNigmar”, “Elthe Kyrie”, and “ApageSatana” from their latest effort “Rituals”, within some other classics, they’ve conquered the stage as kings, and left Beja with the crowd roaring for them.
The only gig of the fest with barriers due security reasons was Extinction of Mankind, punk crust from England. After the gig started the audience could really understand why, cause the sound of this band didn’t let anyone indifferent, has everyone could see by the wild circle pit, and the struggle of the photographers, constantly hit against the barriers, but nothing more serious than that. By the crowd’s response, the band could be really proud of their performance.
In sum, it were 3 great days of extreme music in Beja, an event organized by people with big hearts and big personality. Only with that, you can present to people such different acts, in a festival embraced by the audience due his diversity. The Black Planet zine wants to thank to the organization and to Miguel Capucho for the pictures, and wish them the best of luck for the future, hoping that the 8th edition could be as good, or better than this one, which was really great.
Words by: Daniel Lemminkainen
Photos by: Miguel Capucho
Special thanks to: SMSF – Santa Maria Summer Fest, Vítor Domingos and Vítor Paixão