Being the first band to perform on the last day of a festival is a tough place for anyone to find themselves, and the audience for Opus Diabolicum was a little sparse to begin with. Sound problems during their first song didn’t help, but these minor faults were quickly and professionally rectified and Opus Diabolicum got the final day of Vagos Open Air off to a classical start. Literally. Founded almost as a joke by a group of music students, Opus Diabolicum are the trio Valter Freitas, Diogo Penha and André Pontiff. With their electric cellos, they played acoustic covers of the Portuguese heavy metal band, Moonspell, such as Nocturna, Alma Mater, and Full Moon Madness. While modern interpretations of classical music aren’t new, Opus Diabolicum’s classical reinterpretations of heavy metal were like a breath of fresh air; vibrant, aggressive, powerful and guaranteed to get heads bobbing and fingers tapping. At first, the crowd seemed bemused by the three musicians sitting on the stage, as if they were surprised to see classical musicians instead of heavy metal behemoths, but Opus Diabolicum soon dominated the session to leave a packed crowd with their hands in the air singing along to the music and chanting for more. Certainly one of the most interesting concerts of the festival.
Set List: Opus Diabolicum, Opium, Nocturna, Vampiria, Everything Invaded, Scorpion Flower, Tenerarum Oratorium (Andamento I), Alma Mater, Full Moon Madness.
Murk is a Portuguese band from the Algarve that has only been around for a couple of years but is made up of a number of experienced musicians: Bruno Viegas on drums, Bruno “Bazuka” on bass, Diogo Brito on lead guitar, Vitor Campina on keyboards and Nuno Faria on vocals and rhythm guitar. With a bilingual Portuguese/English approach to their songs (it was surprising just how many bands sang in English), Murk brought their unique style of death metal to Vagos Open Air with a range of songs from their debut album, Tyrants of Decay.
Before, during and after their set, Murk were supported by a vocal group of supporters in their ‘Tyrants of Decay’ T-shirts. During the autograph session Murk, like most of the bands at the festival, were great with their fans, chatting, having photographs taken with them and signing whatever the fans liked: papers, photos, albums and even once, a pair of boobs. As a sign that you’ve made it as a band, being asked to sign a fans breasts is surely it.
For me the most anticipated band of the afternoon were the Lisbon-based band The Quartet of Woah! This four-piece, after all what else would a quartet be, of Gonçalo Katowicz on guitar and vocals, Rui Guerra on keyboard and vocals, André Gonçalves on bass and Miguel Costa on drums, have a style that harks back to the classic era of psychedelic and progressive rock of the 70s, which of course is right up my street. Despite being troubled by sound issues in their first song, the Quartet pounded out their own brand of psychedelic/stoner songs such as U-Turn, Announcer, and Empty Stream from their debut album, Ultrabomb, and their new single Backwardsfirstliners.
Set list: The Announcer, Empty Stream, Balance, The Taste of Hate, Backwardsfirstliners, Slingshot Sam, U-Turn
If the Quartet of Woah! gave us classic psychedelic/stoner rock then the Spanish sextet Vita Imana gave us something else entirely. This little-known band came on the stage and gave an adrenaline pumping performance of what they call groove metal; rhythmic base, drums and percussion counterpoised with aggressive guitar riffs and a vocal display from front man Javier Cardoso that left the crowd breathless. Cardoso’s manic performance, leaping around the stage and glaring at the crowd with his piercing blue eyes, in turn encouraged the crowd into a frenzy of jumping and crowd surfing. By the end of the set I wasn’t sure who was more exhausted: Javier and the rest of the band from their performance, or the crowd from watching them. See gallery.
The second English band of the festival, the gothic metal band, Paradise Lost, was founded way back in 1988, a fact that lead vocalist Nick Holmes never let us forget as he led us cheerfully through a catalogue of their songs, from 1991’s Gothic to 2012’s Tragic Idol. Probably the highlight of the performance was ‘a song from our album Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us, called “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us”’, which gives an idea of the humour that Nick Holmes and Paradise Lost brought to the afternoon. Following a rousing session, at the end of the set the crowd wasn’t satisfied and they were left chanting for more. So the band came back with a powerful three-song encore.
Set list: The Enemy, So Much Is Lost, Remembrance, Gothic, Enchantment, Erased, As I Die, Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us, Tragic Idol, One Second, True Belief. Encore: Isolate, Pity the Sadness, Say Just Words.
One of the things that Paradise Lost apologised for, being from England, was bringing the rain with them, as just before their autograph session there was a brief spattering over the festival. Thankfully the rain stayed away… until Paradise Lost had packed their gear away and just before the last session of the evening, and of the festival. As Gojira, the French heavy metal band, prepared to go on stage a steady downpour of rain started. Stopping briefly as they came on stage, the skies opened again during their second song, and the last session was more like Glastonbury than Vagos. But the rain certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the audience, who head banged and crowd-surfed (and for the second year in a row I was hit on the head by an over-zealous crowd surfer, who apologised profusely before going back for more) their way through an impressive set. Despite the close connection of the Duplantier brothers, Joe on lead vocals and guitar, and Mario on drums, to Portugal – their grandparents were from the Açores – this is the first time that Gojira have been to Portugal. For this the crowd made them especially welcome, and in return Gojira treated us to ninety minutes of perfect death, thrash and progressive metal that even the rain couldn’t dampen.
Set list: Explosia, The Axe, Backbone, The Heaviest Matter of the Universe, Wisdom Comes, Love, Flying Whales, Toxic Garbage Island, Oroborus, L’Enfant Sauvage, Vacuity. Encore: Drum Solo, Where Dragons Dwell.
And so Vagos Open Air came to an end for another year. Whether a fan of black metal, death metal, thrash metal or even classic heavy metal, there was something for everyone this year, and despite a few sound issues the crowd seemed to have a fabulous time. Thanks as always to the organisers, Prime Artists, to the technicians and lighting guys, for all your hard work and making a festival look so simple, and to the security and fire department, who were on hand to quell any difficulties and keep order, although I didn’t see any need for them, and of course to the bands for coming to Quinta do Ega and giving everyone a fabulous time. See you next year.
See review of Day One of Vagos Open Air 2014 here
See review of Day Two of Vagos Open Air 2014 here