2023 marked the return of the Vagos Metal Fest after a line-up as powerful as that of 2022. This year proved to be more eclectic with the inclusion of bands such as Ugly Kid Joe”, which showed the organisation’s courage in its bid to reach wider audiences.
Dragon’s Kiss opened the Vagos Metal Fest 2023. The band showed good posture on stage, where they displayed their traditional heavy metal sound to a considerable audience, which is not very usual for a Thursday in the middle of the afternoon. The band performed some very accomplished songs, such as “Ride for Revenge”, where Hugo Conim’s riffs (known for his work in bands such as Dawnrider or Son Of Cain) stood out. The band ended a successful concert with the punchy “I Embraced the Serpent and the Devil in the Dark”.
Then the French band Dagara took to the stage and kicked up the weight and speed. The band from Paris made its debut in Portugal and was a good surprise right at the start of Vagos Metal Fest. Showing diverse influences in its music, the musicians led by the charismatic Jimmy shook up the festival’s PA with their mix of heavy riffs, supported by powerful, groovy drums and accompanied by vocals reminiscent of some hardcore bands. Their interesting mix of groove, hardcore and melodeath won over some of the festival-goers who responded effusively. Songs like “Feuille Morte du Printemps”, the band’s latest single, showed a good balance of modern and melodic sounds from different styles. It was a positive debut for this group.
Also navigating melodic and hardcore-influenced sounds, Vendetta FM returned to the Vagos Metal Fest for a devastating concert. The band grabbed the fans right from the start of the concert, who responded with a moshpit that would put many a well-known band to shame. The headbanging was intense to the sound of songs like “Decepción” which instantly had everyone shaking their heads due to their groove. It was a quite good concert.
Besta brought their dose of chaos to the Vagos second stage. Led by the restless and charismatic Paulo Rui, the band is a veritable wrecking machine on stage. The group started the massacre with “Vermes”. Chaos quickly ensued both on stage and in the audience. To the sound of songs like “Eles Vivem”, “Morte Silenciosa” or the Napalm Death cover “Social Sterility”, Besta tore everyone and everything apart, exploding into a performance full of anger, political messages and rancour. Paulo Rui is like a caged tiger, always moving at a frenetic pace, interacting with the fans, and even throwing himself at them in a moment of crowd surfing. It was an excellent grindcore concert, some of the angriest ever to hit the stage in Vagos. The band closed beautifully with “Neoselvagens”.
Be’lakor came from a long way. Straight from Australia, the quintet was very solid on stage. Songs like “Abeyance” from the album “Of Breath and Bone” sent the fans into higher spirits. They quickly revisited their most recent disc with “Valence”, a very long song that isn’t boring and works well live. Judging by the effusive response of many fans when George Kosmas announced another song or interacted with the audience, there were clearly a lot of people who were there on purpose to see them. The sound was very good and both the melodic riffs and the keyboards were clearly audible. The band were comfortable on stage and showed confidence, their smiles were a sign that they were enjoying themselves. George proved to be an excellent frontman and tried to address the audience in Portuguese: “Muito obrigado” with a pretty good accent, a moment that brought the band even closer to the fans. Finally, the band presented everyone with the excellent “Countless Skies”, taken from the “Stone’s Reach” disc.
Dave Ellefson’s new band arrived and conquered. With an international line-up featuring ex-members of groups such as Decapitated and Entombed A.D., Dieth surprised everyone and showed an excellent attitude on stage. The concert got off to a great start and quickly had many people in circle pits. Dieth only have one record in their short career, “To Hell and Back”. So the whole concert focussed on that album, which included songs like “Wicked disdain”, “Heavy Is the Crown” and “The Mark of Cain”. The band ended their performance with “In the Hall of the Hanging Serpents”. They’re a group with a lot of potential to grow and they sound heavier on stage than on record.
It’s been a few years since the pirates Alestorm stepped on Portuguese shores. Since then, they’ve released two albums and were quick to present them. “Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum” and “Curse of the Crystal Coconut”, along with the bombastic “No Grave but the Sea” made up a large part of the setlist played at this great party. The first thing you can’t miss is the giant inflatable rubber duck that occupies a large part of the stage. Always very friendly and very good-humoured, Alestorm played around thirteen songs where there was even time for a Taio Cruz cover: “Hangover”… the song “for all those who are going to drink so much that they wake up in the morning completely naked in the swamp”. Judging by the reaction to this introduction, a lot of people were planning to get wasted. Sung by a shark dressed in yellow, it was one of the highlights of the concert. “Mexico” and “Magellan’s Expedition” continued the party, the latter telling the story “of a Portuguese dude”. Finally, the band brought the dance to a close with “Fucked With an Anchor”. Once again, Alestorm’s return to Portugal proved to be a great party where nobody takes themselves too seriously and where fun and madness are the keywords.
Sacred Sin, the veterans of national death metal took to stage 2 of the Vagos metal fest for a very solid concert, which was unfortunately badly marred by the poor sound. That didn’t affect the attitude and demeanour of José Costa, Tó Pica and co. They played a setlist full of powerful songs and many classics, such as “Darkside”, “The Chapel of the Lost Souls” or “Eye M God”, and didn’t let the credit go to them. There was also time to perform three songs from their most recent studio album “Storms over the Dying World” from 2022. All in all, it was an excellent performance by this veteran band who have nothing to prove to anyone, but whose show could have been better if the sound had been better. Let’s hope the next time the sound quality meets the band.
“Sepultura do Brasil”! The Brazilian behemoths kicked off their European tour in Portugal with an absolutely devastating and merciless show. Supported by the infallible (probably not-human) and demolishing backbone that is Eloy Casagrande, the band took the stage by storm like a bomb. The years don’t seem to have passed by these gentlemen, as they were energetic and unleashed all their anger without giving anyone time to catch their breath. Kudos to such impressive energy when 3/4 of the band has already passed the age of 50! The song selection took a special focus on the “Quadra” album, but without ever shying away from the band’s old and indispensable classics such as “Refuse / Resist”, “Territory”, “Arise”, “Ratamahatta” and “Roots Bloody Roots”. No matter what anyone says about the Cavalera brothers’ departure from the band, Sepultura are a renewed band, with enviable energy and who have delivered consistent albums and performances over the years. What a great return to Portugal. Cut-throat!
Corpus Christii came from Lisbon and took the Vagos stage for one of the best concerts we’ve ever seen from them. Without ever forgetting the essence of what black metal is and what was conveyed on stage, Nocturnus Horrendus was particularly chatty and showed to be in excellent shape with a certain receptiveness to connecting with the audience. The band sounded excellent and is a good example of the fact that sometimes you only need one guitar on stage. Seemingly very comfortable on stage and with a solid line-up, Corpus Christii performed mostly songs from their 2022 album “The Bitter End of Old” without ever forgetting old hits like “Stabbed” or “Firegod”. Let’s hope they decide to bring back old classics like “Soaked In Your Blood” or even “Reflex Of Nothingness” at some point. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the flagbearers of Portuguese black metal.