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Report: Vagos Metal Fest 2022

Filipe Gomes 06/08/2022 Festivals, Reports Comments Off on Report: Vagos Metal Fest 2022
Report: Vagos Metal Fest 2022

(Disclaimer: due to force majeure commitments, it was impossible for us to capture images of some concerts that started in the afternoon)

The Vagos Metal Fest returned after an interregnum caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Expectations were high, the hype was immense and there was an atmosphere of excitement in the air.

The venue turned out to be similar to previous editions, with a few differences, although the initial ramp access is still something that could be solved with a staircase from the top where the box office is located to the bottom. One of the novelties was the introduction of a cashless payment system, via RFID wristbands, as is already customary at many sizable festivals. The use had a tumultuous reception with the audience complaining about the lack of information, high fees and difficulties in topping up. Over time the information was circulated and festival-goers learned and got used to the system as they used it and it became less relevant.

It is also worth mentioning the environmental policy applied through the use of reusable plastic cups, which makes the venue not too polluted and easier to clean.

Day #1

The Vagos Metal Fest has become a tradition in the Portuguese scene, and although it is a good socializing experience, it is above all a musical experience. And who had the honour of starting that experience this year were Lyfordeath. Coming from Porto, with a lot of attitude and little time to perform, Lyfordeath debited four themes from their debut album “Nullius in Verba” where we highlight the song “Dawn Of Souls”. Their audience was increasing during their performance. There was also time for their latest single, “Heritage” from 2020. It was a competent debut that deserved a few more minutes of performance.

The second band to step on the Saurom stage were the Spaniards Solar. The quintet from Granada, Spain but which featured musicians from Scotland, Argentina and Italy practices a sound that can fit into the category of alternative rock with the particularity of having very interesting clean voices while being sung in Castilian. The themes were convincing the audience throughout the performance. The group presented a very energetic performance with special emphasis on the bassist with his red crest in his hair, who never stopped still for a second.

Next came Uburen, a Norwegian black metal group. They were the first band to step on the main stage of this edition of Vagos Metal Fest. With three albums already released and one more announced, the trio quickly showed what their black metal with Viking influences and theme was worth. They focused their setlist on their most recent album “And The Mountains Weep” through two songs and played five songs from their upcoming album “Usurp The Throne” to be released in 2023, where the excellent “When The River Breaks” stood out. This style of bands deserved to play during the night due to their aesthetics, as later confirmed during Dimmu Borgir’s performance, but unfortunately this was not the case. For fans of Satyricon, Khold, Kampfar, and Enslaved, Uburen’s debut in Portugal was excellent!

Back on the secondary stage, Bøw came in killing with everything they had. The hardcore band didn’t hold back their strength and their performance was demolishing. A lot of anger on stage that was matched with some circle pits in the audience. With the EP “Infectious Salty Assault” in their luggage, the quartet lived up to the music presented on disk. In addition to the EP, the band surprised many with a version of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings”. Also noteworthy was the excellent drum work by Rui Silva. Despite the short set, Bøw left the stage to the sound of many claps and many coordinated shouts of “just one more!” showing that the audience wanted more.

Betraying The Martyrs brought their metalcore with symphonic elements to the main stage. Despite a delay, nothing deterred the well-known French band that presented a Portuguese frontman: Rui Martins who showed excellent energy and presence. Despite the absence of their keyboardist for family reasons, the French smashed the stage and the audience that eagerly awaited them. With a good stage sound, the super heavy tones of Baptiste Vigie and Steeves Hostin’s guitars marked the performance. The band bet on a varied song list, visiting almost all their discography only leaving out the album “Phantom”, presenting the audience with themes that were accompanied by moshpits such as “Lost For Words” or “Swan Song”, closing with the heavy “The Resilient”. A year away from celebrating 15 years of existence, Betraying The Martyrs were a good addition to the Vagos Metal Fest poster. The clapping at the end of the concert proved that the audience was satisfied.

The secondary stage hosted Ominous Circle. The mysterious band from Porto raises a lot of curiosity for its anonymity, imagery and all its visual apparatus on stage. “Appalling Ascension” is, so far, the only record of the group. This record is super solid and deserves a sequel, whatever it takes. The concert cemented the band’s reputation for very solid performances. Ominous Circle created a very dark and oppressive atmosphere with their evil and merciless death metal. Together with Uburen, they are a band that deserved to play on the night, due to their visual concept. Very cohesive. The band opened the concert with the song “To En”, a real death metal steamroller, and quickly wandered through themes from their debut album (which we hope will not be the last). Enjoying an excellent sound, Ominous Circle are an excellent example that in Portugal there is also good death metal.

One of the characteristic advantages of a festival is the diversity of artists we can see on the same day. If the secondary stage had just finished a concert of oppressive and black death metal, the main stage was soon filled with colour, more specifically pink with the arrival of the second Norwegian band of the first day: Trollfest! It is impossible to remain indifferent to the colorful and fun outfit worn by the group composed of seven elements. With their flamingo hats alluding to the theme of their most recent album called…”Flamingo Overlord”, Jostein Austvik “y sus amigos” got the whole Vagos Metal Fest audience jumping and singing “Dance Like A Pink Flamingo”! Folk metal concerts are always a lively party and this one was no exception. Lots of dancing, an inflatable pink flamingo in the circlepit, there was everything going on.

The colossal Cattle Decapitation had a troubled journey to Vagos Metal Fest. Problems with the airline that lost their luggage, the band was until very recently not knowing if they would be able to perform. However, fortunately everything went well, and these veterans of the most violent death metal, arrived, played and convinced. Despite the sound not being the best at times, Travis Ryan, Dave McGraw & Co left no stone unturned on the Vagos Metal Fest secondary stage. The concert was a true blastbeats festival, fearsome vocalizations and lacerating riffs, in a completely insane performance, at the level that only a few can reach. A parade of musical brutality that for many may be difficult to assimilate, but that left no one indifferent. Their formula of frantic and super fast death metal interspersed with choruses with “clean” voices works very well and conveys variety to their compositions. Despite the troubled start, Cattle Decapitation gave a concert to remember later.

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Finally, the third Norwegian band of the night came to the stage: Dimmu Borgir hadn’t stepped on Portuguese stages for a decade and a half and was one of the most anticipated bands of this festival. Shagrath, Galder and Silenoz, the hard core of the band brought with them a performance that started warm but quickly ignited the audience as soon as they started visiting older songs. With the last album already 4 years old and being received with average enthusiasm, Dimmu Borgir showed on stage that they still have all their majesty that characterized them and placed them at the highest level of world black metal. With a setlist choice that crossed six of the band’s albums, the set seemed too short as many fans waited for “that song”. Unfortunately, as it was not possible to put all the classics in the lineup, the audience was presented with hits like “Puritania”, “Gateways”, the infamous and irreplaceable “The Insight and the Catharsis” and “Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny”. The themes of the Eonian album made the concert slow down, encapsulated in a setlist that sometimes accelerated, sometimes slowed down. In conclusion, it was an instrumentally exemplary concert, but a lineup that visited more classics and left the mid-tempo songs for another occasion was expected.

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The band in charge of closing the night was Saurom, however, they could not attend and were replaced by Holocausto Canibal. Being a band that needs no introduction to the national public, Zé Pedro’s band took the opportunity to step on the Vagos stage to celebrate 25 years and present their recently released album “Crueza Ferina”, released in May by SelfMadeGod Records. It was to the sound of songs such as “Ancestral Hypoxic Rites” and “Executory Gesture” that the new album was presented and judging by the enthusiasm of the resistant who still shook their heads and made mosh, Holocausto Canibal did not disappoint. In a more relaxed register, the mysterious Ominous Circle were thanked for the loan of instruments.

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The usual after-party on the lawn lasted until late at night, always to the sound of good heavy metal.

 

Day #2

The second day could be dubbed “American thrash metal day”, due to its two headliners: Testament and Exodus (plus Heathen).

Opening the concerts were the Portuguese Reverent Tales, a band from Lisbon that explores a progressive metal sound with groove and a pleasant female voice. Seemingly a bit shy, the band drew the first applause of the day by playing songs from their debut album “Visceral”, such as “Era of Witches”. It was a good introduction to the second day.

Unknown to many, the French band Lecks Inc. quickly made a name for themselves with their bold, industrial gothic-inspired look. The group led by Lecks presented an interesting industrial metal performance with danceable themes and different from what usually passes through the Vagos stage. Songs like “Fuck You Baby”, “Don’t Call Me Babydoll” and “Pull The Trigger” left festival-goers wanting to dance more.

Alekto were yet another unknown group to much of the audience, but their performance certainly won fans over. The Brazilian group led by William Silva delivered their melodic groove metal in the form of songs from their most recent album “Abstract Evil”. Mention “Another Freak in a Cage” and the excellent “A Byss Of Mirrors” with its acoustic intro and riffs reminiscent of good Swedish death metal bands like At The Gates… They were a good surprise, circlepits are proof of that and are a band to watch out for in the future.

Mordaça, from Linda-a-Velha, capital of hardcore, brought a great dose of anger to the Amazing stage. The scorching sun didn’t make the fans stand still and the band raised the biggest cloud of dust and the biggest moshpit yet. Their crossover between hardcore, some thrash and punk sung in Portuguese with the usual social criticism audible in songs like “Politiquices” fit like a glove in the spirit of the festival-goers present, who responded effusively.

Then the main stage welcomed a completely iconic band of oldschool death metal, Asphyx. With the excellent album “Necroceros” released in 2021, the mythical icons of death metal with European doom tinges are one of those groups where you already know that it is impossible to give a bad concert. Despite the excellent recently released album, it is worth mentioning “Wasteland of Terror” which transported the entire Vagos Metal Fest audience to 1991, when the first Asphyx album “The Rack” came out, a death metal gem by a band that doesn’t need blastbeats to be heavy and brutal. It’s always a pleasure to attend a concert by a machine as well-oiled as Asphyx, they don’t disappoint.

From then on, with the exception of Harakiri For The Sky, the rest of the second day of Vagos Metal Fest was a parade of veteran bands that have inspired generations. Next came Heathen, an iconic American thrash band. If an introduction to the sound of Abba took some by surprise, the impeccable and impressive concert surprised even more those who did not know these mentors of thrash. A band with a small but super influential discography for the thrash movement, we were pleased to be presented with a new album in 2020, whose promotion was completely cancelled by the Covid-19 pandemic. Their setlist was more focused on the most recent album “Empire of the Blind” there was time for authentic trips to the past to the sound of hits like “Hypnotized” and “Death by Hanging”. Reaching the age of 60, David White has shown to maintain a young, fun and willing spirit, as well as an impressive vocal quality.

The quality thrash continued on the main stage with Exodus, another flagship band of the style, also from the United States. Gary Holt himself entered the stage, pulled the audience and until the end it was a demolishing concert, with no room to catch your breath. Although the sound wasn’t always at its best, that didn’t seem to bother the fans who quickly pushed each other in a huge circlepit. There was time for everything, but the highlights of the performance were the returns to the past to the sound of classic themes like “Bonded By Blood”, “A Lesson in Violence” or “Blacklist”. Overall it was a very competent concert that was only hampered by the stage sound.

Equally troubled was the start of the concert of the mythical Tarantula. However, the band quickly found its way and demonstrated that in Portugal there are great names of classic heavy metal that left a very important mark during the 80s and 90s. With 9 albums in their career, Tarantula are a band that deserved much more prominence and exposure, both for their relevance to the national heavy metal spectrum and for the quality of their music. Starting with the song “The Voice Inside” from their latest album “Thunder Tunes From Lusitania”, the musical quality of this quartet composed by the Barros brothers, the nice José Aguiar on bass and Jorge Marques leading the hosts was quickly noticed. “Afterlife” and classics like “Dream Maker” certainly won Tarantula many new fans. Let’s hope to see them around for many more years and with greater regularity.

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It was then time for Testament to return to Portuguese stages. Taking into account that the last time they were here, it was not the best concerts, the band led by Chuck Billy redeemed itself in this Vagos 2023. Very well rehearsed, with energy to give and sell, Testament needed little more than a few seconds to create a huge circlepit right in front of the stage. Enjoying a much better quality sound than Exodus, the band debuted many of their classics throughout a set composed of 14 songs where there was no shortage of “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)”, “Practice What You Preach”, “First Strike Is Deadly” or “Into the Pit”. Chuck Billy’s voice was in excellent shape and it is a real pleasure to watch such talent on stage.

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Harakiri For The Sky followed, an Austrian Post-Black Metal band, which despite having quality, was frankly mismatched with the lineup of this second day, where many of the fans belonged to a target audience focused on thrash metal. It would be better inserted on the third day, for example after the Emperor concert. Nevertheless, the band brought their heavy atmosphere to the Amazing stage where for about an hour they performed their catharsis on stage. At the front the sound was quite muddled, but near the soundboard Matthias Sollak’s compositions were more easily assimilated. The band wandered through their records loaded with negativity and darkness. A highlight was the end of the concert, where the band performed an unexpected song: a version of Placebo’s “Song to Say Goodbye”.

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Once again the night continued with the after-party for the more resistant. People were losing their battle against the mosquitoes too.

 

Day #3

We are quickly approaching the final day of this Vagos Metal Fest. The previous day’s concerts had left their mark on festival-goers, not only in their memories (and the bodies of those who walked in the circlepits) but also on their skin: anyone who didn’t prepare themselves with insect repellent was easily attacked.

Fonte opened the third day of the festival. The band was the winner of the Vagos Metal Fest band contest and brought their hardcore with thrash and groove tinges to the Amazing stage. Although the band gave a solid concert, where they played songs like “Verdadeiro Mandamento” or “Liberdade”, there was little audience in the venue, possibly due to the time and perhaps to escape the scorching sun that hovered over Quinta do Ega.

Apotropaico came all the way from Spain to present their thrash-inspired groove metal sung in English. Throughout their short concert, the band presented very interesting songs and had a convincing stage presence. Although it was still early in the day, the small crowd in attendance responded positively.

The first band on the main stage was Arsea, an Italian band that mixes power metal influences with some thrash. Very shy and seemingly tense on stage, the sound didn’t help their performance either. In general, the band presented their songs without much energy on stage, and despite the encouragement of lead singer Matteo Peluffo, the audience didn’t react much.

Sotz’ played next. The band that released the excellent album “Popol Vuh” in 2020 presented themselves on stage with much more energy than their predecessors. With a concert where the setlist was focused on their only album, Sotz’ were very good on stage, and had a lot of crowd support. They are a band with a lot of potential. It would be nice to see a greater effort in the stage component to take their stage presence and performance to a higher level, which would be inspired by the concept of their lyrics and inspiration.

Wind Rose, better known as “the band of the dwarves of the hole” came to Vagos to infect everyone with their explosive and good-natured energy. Led by the charismatic Francesco Cavalieri, the “dwarf” who looked like he weighed 35kgs managed to win over the audience in such an easy way that it seemed planned. Circlepits and mosh pits were soon everywhere as the party was set up on stage. The band that got the party going with their cover of “Diggy Diggy Hole” brought a set of songs taken mostly from their albums “Warfront” and “Wintersaga” to the delight of the fans. From start to finish, it was one of those concerts where it is very difficult to stay in a bad mood.

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So Kataklysm were supposed to play next, but there was a change where Crypta played in the slot of the Canadian death metal band. This did not bring any kind of harm to the 100% female Brazilian band. Resulting from Fernanda Lira’s departure from Nervosa, Crypta arrived and conquered. Their power on stage, their frenetic compositions combined with fantastic solos where the impressive work of guitarist Jéssica Falchi stands out, together with Lira’s demonic vocalizations took many by surprise. It was a bombastic set where even one of the security agents crowdsurfed.

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After so much frenetic energy, it was time to slow down. Desire‘s concert got off to a rocky start. The band’s performance was hampered by technical and sound problems, which meant that the band’s sound didn’t feel like it was filing the space in the air (especially the guitars). This coupled with a daylight performance did not help the mood and atmosphere essential to the success of the concert. Vocalist Corvus lifted the spirits of the very large audience present. This was one of those choices that should have played into the night. The band visited their discography through songs like “White Falling Room” or “(Leaving) This Land of the Eternal Desires”. It’s good to see Desire active, one of the most important Portuguese doom metal bands in the national underground.

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Next came Kataklysm. The Canadian band has a large legion of fans in Portugal and this was visible in the amount of audience present to see them. After a very convincing run in 2009 with Death Angel and Keep of Kalessin, Kataklysm brought their brutal and energetic death metal to a competent concert. Unfortunately like Desire, the sound was not the best at times, which ended up hurting the overall concert. That didn’t deter the band or the fans who, for about an hour, poured all the energy they had into a gigantic moshpit. It was certainly a memorable concert for many where the band revisited their discography in a varied way.

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23:00. The time had finally come. Emperor, one of the most emblematic and influential black metal bands worldwide, created in 1991, only took 32 years to step on national soil. It was more than obvious that they were the band that brought the most people to the Quinta do Ega venue. Expectations were huge and they were met. Ihsahn, Samoth, Trym, Secthdamon and Jørgen Munkeby did not disappoint. Opening the concert unexpectedly with the excellent “In the Wordless Chamber” (a song that should have been included on IX Equilibrium and not on the Prometheus album), the dream of many fans of black metal with symphonic elements quickly came true. Yes, they were there, yes the sound was excellent and nothing could spoil this moment. It was known that the band was going to play the iconic album “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” in its entirety, but there was still time for a few more bonus songs like “Curse You All Men!”. Communicative enough, the band went through the songs effortlessly, showing a high level of quality and mastery. It was impossible to remain indifferent to moments like “Ensorcelled by Khaos” or the mythical “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” where everyone who knew the band minimally sang “Nightspirit / Spirit / Embrace my soul”! It was worth the wait. It was THE SHOW of Vagos 2023, and surely a historic and unforgettable moment for many.

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Frankly less well placed in the lineup are DRI, considered by many to be pioneers of the crossover scene, who haven’t released a new album in 28 years. Yet “they still party like it’s 1995”. At 60 years old, Kurt Brecht’s voice is pretty much the same and so is the band’s attitude. “Acid Rain” set the tone for a concert that would have been much more effective if it had taken place the day before, the so-called “American thrash day”. “Thrashard” revisited the mythical album “Thrash Zone”. It was a solid concert, but fatigue was already visible in the audience.

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In charge of closing the festivities, Serrabulho took the main stage by storm, where everything happened. From beach chairs on stage, with a terrace, to a foam cannon, inflatable balls, torn pillows, cheerleaders and a superhero. The national band knows how to put on a party and come out unscathed in the midst of all the chaos. It was another great concert by the national band that needs no introduction.

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2023 hosted another successful edition of Vagos Metal Fest, with a very solid line-up and good conditions.

Special thanks to Amazing Events and all the team that received the press.

Photo: Filipe Gomes
Text: Patrícia Pombo and Filipe Gomes

 

 

 

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