Another year another metal fest in Vagos. No matter how many years pass by, how many festivals they take out of Vagos, there will always be metal in Vagos during the summer. After last year’s panicked creation of Vagos Metal Fest (that was in itself a testament to the will of everyone involved in keeping the fest alive), this year Amazing Events and the people of Vagos had a whole year to prepare. Better camping, better planning, better infrastructures, better everything. The stage was set for the best festival in the history of Vagos.
The first day started with Tales For The Unspoken, the Portuguese group is already considered a classic in the Portuguese underground circuit and the energy of Marco Fresco (lead singer) is infectious, the public loves him and he certainty loves the public. There was even time for “N’Takuba Wena”, the band’s first song that took the fans to ecstasy. After that the Germans And Then She Came took to the stage for a more rock approach with electronic influences, the most interesting thing about the band is the amazing energy provided by Ji-In Cho, the bands lead singer that is a non-stop rock and roll bomb. Another Portugal underground cult band took the stage by storm, Revolution Within brought the pain with their hardcore infused thrash metal that created the first big circle pits of the day, and don’t you think for one second that Raça (lead vocals) is an old man, he will kick your ass with his punk attitude. In a show filled with hard-hitting tracks it was a shame that there was so many sound problems, nevertheless the crowd loved it and they did not seemed to mind. Gama Bomb brought the party with them, their revival crossover thrash is not to be taken seriously, especially when Philly Byrne enters the stage wearing one of the silliest outfits in thrash metal history. It would almost be unforgivable if they weren’t so god damn fun and their thrash wasn’t so brutal, one of the best shows of the day.
The first great moment of the day came when the legendary power metal group Rhapsody took to the stage. It was time to say goodbye to the legendary formation that gave us “Legendary Tales” from the brains of Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione. Nothing negative can be said about these guys, starting the show with “Emerald Sword” and finishing it with “Holy Thunderforce” is just one of those things to remember for years to come.
Arch Enemy was the big name of the evening, the already legendary death metal band is always perfectionist when playing live and we don’t even need to say the names of the axe wielders, their performance throughout the evening was flawless. “War Eternal”, “We Will Rise”, “You Will Know My Name” and “Nemesis” were perfectly executed by the band lead by the explosive Alissa and the crowd responded with constant savage headbanging.
Time for Wintersun, a crowd favourite that had been waiting for years for a live gig from the power/death/folk giants. Truth is, they deserved better conditions, still, even with all the sound issues they performed as best as their souls allowed them. Thundering melodies, epic tracks such as “Starchild” and “Time” brought the crowd into a trance, truly a show to remember.
Therion had a difficult task ahead of them, after Arch Enemy, Rhapsody and Wintersun the crowd faced a tired audience. Not a lot of flash, no banners, no gimmicks, just great music spanning the classics like “Lemuria” and “To Mega Therion” the band left all fans in awe of their musical and vocal prowess.
How to keep the public excited after all this? Easy, just thrown some kickass grind at them. A couple of guys with anger issues, a submissive slave on stage and the will to destroy is what makes up Grunt, one of the best examples of the best grind made in Portugal that thoroughly sapped the last energies of the few brave who dared to mosh at 2AM.
The day started unfairly to one of the great young bands of the death scene, Implore performed at 16h, under scorching heat that drew only a couple hundred to the front of the stage. Their old school death metal with some hints of young blood inspiration deserved more. Still they carried on gave one hell of a show for those brave enough to endure the heat. You can’t say Vagos Metal Fest is an old metalhead fest, they keep trying to bring new stuff to the table. Brutality Will Prevail is a testament to that, a hard-hitting hardcore band that won over a conservative crowd with their energetic performance lead by the crowd-surfing madman Louis Gauthier. Contrary to Vagos tradition, Hills Have Eyes were the only Portuguese band for the day, and just like Brutality Will Prevail their hardcore mixed with metalcore surprised the audience with energy and sincere happiness to be a part of Vagos Metal Fest.
The old school crowd finally got what they wanted, Metal Church, a heavy/thrash classic from the old days that got the old guys in the audience headbanging to classics like “Fake Healer”. It was good, no doubt about it, but after the full on aggression that we got from the previous bands Metal Church seemed a bit out-of-place at first. Nevertheless, slowly but surely Mike Howe and company won the crowd over with their masterful heavy metal riffs.
Primordial appeared with the night creeping in, Alan Nemtheanga resembles more like a warrior god than a metal frontman and then band that backs him up are the soldiers that follow him to battle. The Irish brought with them “No Grave Deep Enough”, “Gods To The Godless” and the everlasting “Rome Burns”. It was one of the heaviest shows of the fest and if it wasn’t for various sound issues with the mic the show could have gone down as one of the best in Vagos history.
Korpiklaani are always the same, party hard and party fast with folk and vodka. There has never been a boring concert from these guys and there never will be. More than the music, it is what the fans bring to the table, constant dancing, moshing and crowd surfing is what they love and Korpiklaani are happy to oblige with sounds from their various records.
Time for the band of the festival, Soulfly, lead by Max Cavalera, the 48-year-old Brazilian legend, Soulfly delivered what was expected of them, a thrilling performance with Max leading the crowd, Rizzo taking over the guitar duties with flawless technic (Max barely plays anymore but that’s ok) and the great Zyon Cavalera (will grow into a legend with time). There were simply so many memorable moments, “Blodd Fire War Hate”, “We Sold Our Souls To Metal”, the Sepultura classic “Refuse/Resist”, and we even got an Iron Maiden moment with Trooper creeping into the setlist. All in all, pure moshing-circle-pitting-wall-of-death headbanging madness.
Powerwolf. How can such a silly band be so awesome? I don’t know, but their heavy metal holy mass is fun to see and hear. “Blessed and Possessed”, Sanctified With Dynamite”, “We Drink your Blood” and “Resurrection By Erection” are hard-hitting heavy metal tracks played with such passion that you can’t help but be drawn to this band and their devout followers.
There is nothing wrong with a little mystery, nothing wrong with a little hype, but when Batushka drag their supposed soundcheck for almost an hour just to create hype people have a right to be upset (especially when after the long soundcheck the voices were just not there). Some people booed, some people left, others insulted the band, but as soon as they came on stage all were left in awe of the black metal mass (theatrical and beautiful as hell) that Batushka delivered onto our souls. We want more.
Vagos Metal Fest didn’t even need a third day, it was already one of the best with just the previous two, still they were not finished, much more was to come. The Spaniards Reaktion brought old school thrash metal with them but once again the sun was too much and the crowd got scared. Attick Demons, the Portuguese heavy metal purists brought about the first instances of heavy metal crowd surfing with their confortable and nostalgic heavy metal sounds. Miss Lava were next, one of the only non-true metal gigs of the festival, the stoner ensemble thoroughly rocked the Vagos crowd with some of the coolest riffs of the day. From Salt Lake City Chelsea Grin brought the really first heavy moments of the day and Alex Koehler showed why they are one of the hottest things in metal right now. Their brutal deathcore and explosive energy got everyone stomping around the moshpit as if they were the last band of the day.
The first big crowd of the day arrived with Havok, the classic thrash metal band gave a thunderous gig with speed, technic, passion, heart, soul and everything else you can imagine. “Give Me Liberty… Or Give Me Death” was the final nail in the coffin that sent the fans into the last of the multiple circle pits of the gig. Kudos to David Sanchez, the guy has grown into a captivating frontman destined to lead crowds for years to come.
Although Whitechapel seemed to be tired and somewhat not there, the band still tried to give it all and the fans appreciated the effort, through multiple moshpits and circlepits the band was crushing it and the fans were responding at all times always asking for more. We have to congratulate Vagos Metal Fest for the fearless inclusion of hardcore, metalcore and deathcore into the lineup as it allowed for a very diverse and fun crowd. Whitechapel were the face of that crowd, always asking for more and more and the band responded in kind.
Hammerfall had fallen into some weird pit where people thought they no longer had it… but boy were they wrong. From the first moment they set foot on stage the band had the fans eating out of their hand. The sound was perfect, the band was not tired and they ripped through classics such as “Renegade”, “Bushido” and “Hammer High”. Awesome guitar solos, a great frontman and the immortal Oscar Dronjak gave it all they got and the fans were completely happy with their performance.
After Hammerfall what better way to continue the evening with some Technical/Avant-garde Death Metal by Gorguts? Only heard of them now? That’s your problem, Luc Lemay has been around for over 25 years dishing out mind-blowing riffs all over the world. The best sound in the evening and a very friendly frontman showed that not all death metal has to be rotten and putrid, sometimes it can just be technically perfect. One of the most amazing shows of the summer and congratulations to the Vagos organization for being able to snatch this one for our side.
Cough closed the festival with their hypnotic doom/stoner rock and they were the perfect portrait of the Vagos Metal Fest, a daring collection of different aspects of all that is metal.
Vagos Metal Fest was a terrific success, with both Luís Salgado (Amazing Events) and Silvério Regalado (Mayor of Vagos) stating that they wanted more, Vagos Metal Fest will grow, the city will continue to embrace metal heads and next year it will be even bigger.
All About The Rock would like to thank everyone involved that allowed us to get this report out there. Even if we’re a UK-based metal magazine we are dedicated to bring you the most exciting destinations for metal. We honestly recommend Vagos has the next big town for metal.