(Picture gallery below)
The SWR festival has completed 18 years of existence. Over time the festival has grown at a huge pace gaining a considerable notoriety among the European festivals and placed at the top of the metal festivals in Portugal, by its own effort and merit. So, once again, the pilgrimage to the northern village took place between April 30 and May 2.
As in previous years, the SWR Arena was assembled. It’s a free stage with varied concerts. This year the initial animation role belonged to PHIL GOES DOWN, DEHUMAN from Belgium, who played a strong Death Metal set, WITHOUT FACE who came to present their old-school-sounding hardcore and, to finish… the infamous VIZIR, the well-known band that mixes pornogrind with Black and makes the audience smile, even if’s only because of the titles of their songs.
To end the free night, DJ Ronny Slain was commissioned to entertain the remaining people and make them bang their heads.
The bad weather decided to visit the village of Barroselas, greeting everyone with rain, which did not made it easy to who was camping.
At 17:00 SHITMOUTH from Porto came onstage, a young quartet that showed how fast and energetic their sound is, playing a quite fast concert. However, they were unable to generate much movement in the small audience that gathered at the SWR Arena. Then, came Galician BLAST OFF present their non-conformed Thrash Metal carrying a strong message. These Thrashers played their discography in full, the EPs “Devious Insane” and the latest “World Of Lies”, showing interesting riffs and melodies, catchy solos the band ended the concert throwing merchandise at the public. Good concert and good attitude by a band that is only four years old.
Opening the 2nd stage, LOUD! Dungeon, the Portuguese EQUALEFT returned to Barroselas for the 3rd time, bringing their devastating record “Adapt & Survive”. Their mix of Groove Metal and some Djent influences was very well received by the public who corresponded with movement and headbanging. Clearly they’re no rookies in these events, so their show was quite synchronized, cohesive, heavy.
The first concert at the main stage, called SWR Colosseum, was by INTERNAL SUFFERING, a band that has been around since ’96, but after four albums and some splits, ceased activity in 2007, to reunite in another country, now closer, in Spain in 2011 bringing the full fury of a chaotic and super-fast Brutal Death. Sometimes the sound did not help the performance, but some people agitated the pit and supported the band in a more effusive manner. NEUROMA played next. Coming from Liverpool, their performance was good, playing technical Death metal with a lot of pig squeals, but unfortunately they couldn’t play much due to the fact that the drummer was new and did not know more songs. But it was totally worth it, for the stage presence and sympathy.
The time had come for a more mature band to go on stage, and this time were the SKYFORGER who were about to celebrate 20 years of existence. From Latvia they brought Pagan / Folk Black Metal filled with ethnic influences, full of meaning and commitment. Came to present the latest album “Senprūsija” and for over 45 minutes they took the audience on a historical journey, beginning with the group origin with “Akmenī iekaltās zīmes” from their demo “Semigalls’ Warchant” but quickly traveling to the most recent releases such as “Kurbads” or the latest, which occupied half of the show’s setlist. The historical and documentary comments by Pēteris Kvetkovskis turned out to be very interesting. The band ended with songs from the latest album, with a reference to Lithuanian History with “Zem Lietuvas Karogiem”. Very good concert, great atmosphere and empathy between band / audience. One of the best concerts in the whole three days.
Changing sonority and appearance, KILLIMANJARO went to the secondary stage. Bringers of a Heavy Rock / Stoner wave, this trio left a good impression of their performance of the album “Hook”. After came FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE who played a majestic concert, furious and at the same time melodic, with all the symphonic components and opera singer. For almost one hour, there was a blastbeat festival, started with “The Hypocrisy”, through the latest album “Labyrinth” to “Minotaur”. To mention the interlude in which the vocalist Tommaso Riccardi took a scenic break to drink red wine and gave a small speech before starting another song. The hit “The Violation” could not be left out and without slowing down until the end, “The Forsaking” ended a great concert in which it is impossible to remain indifferent to the machine behind the drums, Mr. Francesco Paoli.
Also from Italy but slowing down immensely, GRIME performed a good Sludge concert full of negativity in the secondary stage. Speaking about negativity, as midnight approached, one of the bands most anticipated headliners were about to play: SHINING. These controversial Swedes need no introduction, mostly because of their eccentric frontman and his behaviour on stage. Among grabbing audience members, unnecessary insults to the public both in Spanish and Italian, responding to random hostility of someone less receptive to the band, there was a bit of everything in this concert. In instrumental terms, the technical quality of their elements it notorious, and there were moments of great musicianship during the show, sometimes ruined by interference of Kvarforth.
INCINERATE came next, playing a brutal concert, a juggernaut of complex riffs, frantic blastbeats and a vocalist that although seemed shy on stage, had a great vocal performance. For the first time in Portugal it was obvious the will to be there and thanks to all those who were present at the premiere of this violent band in Portuguese stages. A very violent concert composed by songs such as “Inherited” or “Unable to Ascend”. Back at SWR Colosseum were CRISIX. After a memorable concert in 2010 and renaming from Crysys to Crisix, one could witness a clear evolution of these Spanish Thrashers, who presented songs from their entire discography with a great attitude, There was time for a surprise when all the members changed positions, the drummer was playing guitar, etc and did a medley of well-known Metal classics. A great concert with great response from the public.
To end the evening, the SWR Arena received a hypnotic concert by the portuguese REDEMPTUS, a band with elements well known to the Portuguese panorama, which created a desolate sound through their heavy and slow riffs. Then came along WELLS VALLEY, a group with elements of Concealment and Kneel, bringing its great work “The Matter Regent” flooded the curious public with their post-Sludge dissonant, characteristic of those who know the compositions of Filipe Correia. Also worth mentioning, the intimate atmosphere that settled during the concert. The best time was when the band played “Star Over The Wheel”. Great concert by these experimentalists. The rest of the evening was provided by DJ Loud / Sound Art.
The second day of the festival began very violently at 17:00 at the SWR Arena, with the chaotic Crust / Hardcore punk of Swedish MYTERI followed by the fast Thrasher IMMINENT ATTACK from Brazil. The Portuguese ÖRÖK played their first live appearance in front of an audience that was still recovering from the previous night. The sound was not at its best, which harmed the group’s performance.
The first band on the main stage was the Brazilian CLAUSTROFOBIA, without much delay they unloaded their raw, fast and violent Thrash / Death Metal, breathing the dust generated in the moshpit. These guys are celebrating 20th birthday but this is their first performance in Portugal. Endowed with immense sympathy and good humour, the empathy with the audience was immediate. To help raise even more dust a cover of Ratos de Porão’s “AIDS, Pop, Repressão” was played. EMPTINESS from Belgium were scheduled to play next, but due to problems with flights and pilot strike in the whole country, ANALEPSY had to play instead. They’re a Brutal Death Metal band from Lisbon that has been on the spotlight most recently. They’re promoting their first EP “Dehumanization by Supremacy”. Overall it was a good concert, and there was a lot of support from the many friends who were there. There was time for a cover of Pathology. After all the speed that a good Slam / Brutal Death Metal concert can provide, it was time to slow down (a lot!) for the concert of the British BONG and their Drone / Psychedelic Doom. The entire concert was rather slow and not very active on stage, typical of this genre so, probably many people did not identify themselves with the style. It felt like a good time for some reflective moments of introspection.
Back to high tempos and brutality, BLEEDING DISPLAY met a fairly wide audience at the secondary stage got people moving in every direction in a large moshpit. The concert was competent but its rapid and complex sonority, associated with less good sound, ended up making some moments become confusing. A bit after 22:00, another band from Belgium, this time ENTHRONED unmercifully took the stage without the presence of their bassist, due to flight delays previously mentioned. This was the same reason that led to the exchange of Emptiness by Analepsy. Being one member short, this did not demotivate the band, which seemed comfortable and confident, delivering a strong and somewhat ritualistic scenario. Songs such as “Through the Cortex”, “Nonus Sacramentvm”, or “Horns Aflame”, together with the occasional prayers in-between echoed throughout the festival tent. The bassist managed to make it on time and entered halfway through the show. Continuing in a violent stream, Irish ZOM destroyed the secondary stage, wreaking havoc with their Black / Death with punk influences. They left no one indifferent during the presentation of the latest album “Flesh Assimilation”, in the moshpit there was great violence and onstage the energy was contagious. For sure this was a good surprise for those who did not know this wicked group.
One of the most anticipated bands, PRIMORDIAL started their concert just like the new album begins: “Where Men Greater Have Fallen” followed by “Graven Idol”. Just like in the Skyforger show did, those who attended the concert were taken on a historical trip, through various periods of History, always conducted by AA Nemtheanga and his charisma as a frontman. The sound was impeccable, and it only helped the legion of fans who attended the concert to enjoy it even more. Very communicative, AA interacted well with the audience and presented one of the best vocal performances we have seen in this edition of the festival. Getting close to the end, “No Grave Deep Enough” and the classic “Empire Falls” were the last songs. Possibly the best concert of this 18th SWR. 11PARANOIAS started playing at 1:00AM and in a more relaxed posture provided a good concert, but seemed shy on stage. Good British Sludge / Doom Metal. Czechs GUTALAX were in charge to close the main stage with their humorous fecal themed Grindcore. There was a hug mess in the moshpit, as well as the occasional inflatable accessories typical of some shows of this genre. Good interaction with the public as well. EMPTINESS, the band which was replaced by Analepsy entered the SWR Arena around 2:30 AM, to a probably larger crowd than they would have had if they played in the afternoon. Carrying the excellent “Nothing But The Whole” with them, the whole concert was quite gloomy and intimate. The evening ended with the concert of MOTHER ABYSS, whose concert didn’t get much reaction from the festivalheads, possibly due to the late hours of the night. DJ Jó spent some time giving more Metal to the remaining people.
The third day began violently, with the Spanish Grindcore RATO RARO and the Crush / Death of Belgian MARGINAL at the SWR Arena. Then came MIDNIGHT PRIEST from Coimbra. These dudes no longer need introductions to the 80’s classic Heavy Metal lovers. Being no rookies, the performance was cohesive and overall quite good to which the fans responded with great excitement while listening to “À Boleia Com o Diabo” and “Hellbreaker”, now sang in English. RAW DECIMATING BRUTALITY (RDB) brought humour combined with Grindcore and construction site themed lyrics provided quite some good times. In the secondary stage, ZATOKREV from Switzerland came to present the album “Silk Spiders Underwater …” and show why they have a cult of fans behind them and their unique blend of Doom / Death Metal with Sludge touches. French BENIGHTED brought chaos to the main stage with their extremely fast Brutal Death Metal. “Let The Blood Spill Between My Broken Teeth”, “Fritzl” and the excellent “Asylum Cave” made this show seem too short. A brutal energy discharge for anyone who enjoyed this.
A real ritual happened later, with the presence of American NIGHTBRINGER. This performance was an authetic ritual, a black Mass where Ar Ra’d al-Iblis proclaimed the obscure text “Et Nox Illuminatio Mea in Deliciis Meis” the excellent “Lucifer Trismegistus” or the now classic “The Womb of Nyx”. Not being a band known by everybody, It was good to witness that nobody budge from the spot until he finished the ritual. No doubt, it was a rare opportunity to witness a band which carries such a ritualistic atmosphere and enigmatic message. The crazy Finnish maniacs IMPALED NAZARENE brought their share of insane and dirty Black Metal, free of complexities. Singer Mikka Lutinen unexpectedly interacted quite a lot with the audience and eagerly spat the simple and straightforward lyrics that the band has accustomed its fans. “Suomi Finland Perkele” is a song title that says it all. Unfortunately the concert’s volume was quite loud, and coincidence or not, there was a failure in the sound system, which left the band playing themselves for a moment while there was no sound coming from the PA. Back to the secondary stage, AHAB came from Germany and they’re known for their Funeral Doom obsessed with the ocean. The entire concert was overwhelming … so heavy and held as if it was a real journey without many words, letting the music speak for itself.
ENTOMBED AD was one of the most anticipated bands of the festival, bringing the old classics of Entombed, after the well-known vocalist L-G Petrov have resolved the legal issues involved in the dispute for the original band name. The concert was all what could be expected: violent Death’n’Roll that put everyone moving in great union with the band. Tracks like “Left Hand Path” or “Chief Rebel Angel” faced some of the most violent moshpits seen this year. It was certainly one of the best concerts and the fans didn’t seem disappointed.
LVCIFYRE brought the eeriest darkness to SWR. The colossal “Sun Eater” is their flag and without delay the group crushed everything and everyone with a dirty and overwhelming obscure Black / Death Metal assault, which felt like it was too small for the beast that was lurking above. “Liber Lilith”, “Sun Eater,” “Fiery Spheres Of Seven” or “Sinister Calling” echoed in Barroselas. Canadians SKULL FIST closed the main stage on this 3rd day and brought a good dose of Heavy Metal with high spirits. Very active on stage, always cheering for everyone, it didn’t take long for the party to begin, and it only ended when the band left the stage… there were no boring periods.
The last night of the SWR 2015 was closed by CANGARRA, a group that requires an open mind to be appreciated, because their concerts are based on improvisation, and finally JIBÓIA, a project that includes electric guitars and electronic beats. The resistant fans got to enjoy a final DJ set by DJ Lynce, and finally Metal Karaoke all the way until morning!
The SWR turned 18, can now be considered mature, it’s awesome and recommendable. See you next year!
Special thanks to the festival organizers and Ondina / Menthor Serpens.