As many of you know, the first day of Festival Rock al Parque is devoted to the heaviest spectrum of the rock range. This year was no exception with the performance of Socavón, Stained Glory, No Raza, The Black Dahlia Murder, Perpetual Warfare, Aborted, Decapitated, Albatroz, Supremacy, among others. A very guttural day, as many of the bands, have a growl developed as one of their key features. I had the chance to check some of the bands and to feel the overall experience, so let me take you to a walk through it.
There is an unwritten rule in Festival Rock al Parque, but I guess it apply to every Colombian event, and it is the following “Most of people will not get there on time.” This year, I was surprised by the fact that for the first time since I have been attending the festival, every single band was playing on time. That is a good thing for people like me that try to attend on time and to have bands playing on a schedule helps to plan your day. However, few people have this intention and unfortunately missed the performance of opening band Socavón.
Socavón is death metal band originated from Tunja and had a long history performing live in different scenarios in this country. However, for their attendance at one of the biggest scenarios of Latin America and playing at 1:30 p.m. there were few people in front of them. In any other place, the attendance would have been enough to make the place look half full, but in scenario Plaza just was not enough. Socavón has a solid sound, which was evident in their performance of most of the songs of their albums ‘Pasos en Sangre’ and ‘Cenizas del Palacio’; but their “on stage” performance is very static, as one can imagine from an old school death metal band.
The next band I could check was Albatroz, the opening band at scenario Eco. A heavy metal band from Bogotá, it has an extended trajectory in Colombia, becoming a sort of surviving band in that particular genre. Like many of the bands that perform in Festival Rock al Parque, the guys of Albatroz were excited to play live, and they showed it by playing with all the got. The audience that gathered at scenario Eco responded accordingly to the excitement of vocalist Andres Arce, who put his soul and throat on the stage. During their performance, Albatroz paid homage to Kraken, Colombia’s most notable heavy metal act and a certain source of inspiration for many metalheads since the 1980’s, making their performance an explosive one with audiences singing along. A great show indeed.
As I walked through the festival, I realised how similar people were on this particular day. After all, it was a day dedicated to metal only, meaning there was not much of a variety and what you may get during the day. For true metal lovers, there were different groups and different tones of metal that may count as diversity, but I can honestly say that diversity was a broad term for what was present during the day, being black the mandatory colour. Either way, the day went on between stages.
Another band that I was able to see live was No Raza and music went back to guttural and death metal chords. Originated in Bello, No Raza came to Bogota to bring all the energy and the presence they certainly know they possess. True to their death metal origins, the band executed every song with surgeon precision, making people, even from the distance, to pay attention to them. That is, in my opinion, what Festivañ Rock al Parque is about for bands that are relatively unknown, to be able to catch other people’s attention long enough to make them interested in your music. Some the songs performed showed the evolution of the band from their first album ‘Del Poder a la Muerte’ released in 2004 to ‘When Chaos Reigns’ released in 2014. The end of their show was with a bang, making most of the people there very happy, and eager to keep on going in that long day.
Changing scenarios again, I realised there was a massive movement of people being summoned to presence one of Bogota’s death metal bands, Nonsense Premonition. Despite the fact I was not able to see their performance, it is worth noting that they have a reasonable amount of fans in Bogota.
After cruising around, the time came to see Aborted, one of the most expected bands on Saturday. This was the first time Belgian death metallers came to this Highland, and they did not disappoint to those fans that have been waiting to see them live. The show started with a punch right in the face, which allowed people to let go. There is a particular feature at scenario Bio that can make you see how effective a band is to get people involved in the show. When people do a mosh or are jumping, there is a cloud of dust coming out of the floor as the show progresses, in Aborted, that cloud was big, to the point of getting in the way to those with respiratory issues, a situation that matters little to those completely transport by the band. Another aspect worth mentioning is that despite the fact Aborted is a death metal band, they showed great dynamism in their performance, as every single member that could move did so.
After having a taste of Aborted, it was time for me to check Perpetual Warfare. This thrash metal band from Bogotá had to fight its way to perform live in front of thousands of people, and they prove they have earned their spot with flying colours. A band with serious topics in their lyrics, but a layback, fun disposition on the stage they put a lot of effort and passion into their performance. Following the footsteps of great dynamic acts like Anthrax, the members of Perpetual Warfare kept moving from beginning to end, even introducing the mascot of the band who also perform flawlessly during the songs he participated in. After so many bands, it was a breath of fresh air in the middle of so much solemnity.
Unfortunately, the day was ending and the groups that close it was big names in the metal scene. At scenario Bio, Decapitated was in charge of closing the day. Another first time to Bogota, this Polish death metal band did not disappoint their loyal fans in Colombia. Because they were playing at dusty scenario Bio, the cloud of dust rose above many heads that were either moshing or headbanging to the band’s lead. Performing most of the songs from their latest two album, Decapitated brought it all to fans, and those fans reciprocated with the same intensity as the band played. Great show, and an excellent way to end the day.
Sepultura was in charge to give the great closure to an entire day full of growls and brutality. This band is one of the most iconic for South American fans as somehow there is a feeling of belonging to most fans in here. Despite the change in lineup, many fans came to sing along to the band’s most famous songs from old. However, Sepultura also brought with them a gift for the fans: a live premiere of ‘I Am The Enemy’. This song was received positively by most fans, those that were able to overcome the fact that Sepultura kept on living beyond the Max Cavalera’s exit. Also, because Portuguese and Spanish are closely related languages, guitarist Andreas Kisser took the word in Spanish to communicate directly to the audience, which in a Spanish speaker country as Colombia is a big “thumbs up”. Also, Derrick Green made his effort to speak in Spanish to thanks the audience for receiving Sepultura warmly.
Saturday proved to be once more the “heaviest day” of Festival Rock al Parque with a complete discharge of energy, bad mojo, good vibes and most importantly, an opportunity for people to let go their inner self. The dark day, the black day did not disappoint me, but then again I am someone open to being impressed. One day down, two more to come for Festival Rock al Parque as there are also more detailed reports from bands that impressed us.