Even though I am Portuguese, in most cases I favor to prioritize other European countries other than my own, this not on purpose but due to the shortage of time to correlate further with my scene. However, I must acknowledge that Portugal is well known for top-notch events and artists, and certainly justifies my closer attention. Vagos Open Air Festival have been emailing me their updates and just today I succeeded to catch up with their information and take the opportunity to address one of Portugal’s most dominant festivals of all times.
Vagos Open Air Festival is five months away from its 7th edition, and with summer solstice swiftness they have been continually refreshing their lineup for this year’s edition with new additions.
Black Label Society will be back in Portugal after performing to a full jammed show at Hard Club, winning the stage in Quinta Do Ega, with the very monumental and charismatic Zakk Wylde in charge, they pledge to give a memorable concert, full of fierce attitude, world size riffs and awe-inspiring solos making the delight of all the six strings lovers.
Born Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt in Bayonne, New Jersey, Zakk Wylde began playing guitar at the age of eight and became famous when, after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads, joined the band of Ozzy Osbourne, with whom he recorded the albums ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, ‘No More Tears’ and ‘Ozzmosis’ between 1988 and 1995. After leaving Ozzy Osbourne, the talented musician decided to go solo and, in 1996, released the album ‘Book of Shadows’. Unable to cause the desired impact on mainstream level, he decided to take a break and only returned in 1999 with a new album and a new band called Black Label Society, which at the time consisted of Zakk Wylde on vocals, guitar and bass and Phil Ondich on drums. For the troubled tour to promote ‘Sonic Brew’, they enlisted the help of various musicians and, two years later, recorded the first album for Spitfire, ‘Stronger Than Death’. The following tour saw them for the first time on the Ozzfest stage and the following year they recorded the live album ‘Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live!!’. In 2002, after the release of ‘1919 Eternal’, they returned to the famous itinerant festival, but this time to play on the main stage. Already an established name and with a solid reputation as a live band, the quartet – complete with Dario Lorina on second guitar, John DeServio on bass and Jeff Fabb on drums – wasted no time and released in 2003 and 2004 ‘Blessed Hellride’ and ‘Hangover Music, Vol. 6’. Despite the numerous fluctuations in the lineup and the constant tours, Zakk Wylde never neglected the studio records and managed to maintain a regular album release, with ‘Mafia’ and ‘Shot to Hell’ released only one year apart. In between, the guitarist goes back to work with Ozzy Osbourne on ‘Down To Earth’ and ‘Black Rain’, and the Black Label Society only returned in 2010 with ‘Order Of The Black’ and the following year, ‘The Song Remains Not the Same’. In 2013 they decided to fully exploit the bluesy facet of their hard rock in ‘Unblackened’ and, last year, ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’ saw a return to the heavy sound that has characterized the band since it took the first steps.
Much more cerebral and intriguing, the Australians Ne Obliviscaris will finally debut in Portugal with their progressive extreme metal.
Created in 2003, Ne Obliviscaris only presented themselves for the first time to the world three years later and, thanks to the impressive cohesion revealed immediately, gathered immediate praise by the Australian critics, due to their unique sound, the intensity of the concerts and the virtuosity of the musicians. Featuring an unusual lineup, consisting of a violinist, two guitarists, bassist, drummer and a mix of clean and extreme vocals, the band drew its inspiration from a wide range of influences, from progressive rock to black, thrash, death and melodic metal, and also artistic Western music, jazz and even flamenco. Their main goal is the creation of music made of many extremes, and the musicians bet on long songs that can be both ultra-technical and complex or simple and subtle, and which give rise to a very unique sound that defies any brandings. After the release of a demo with three themes that earned them very positive reviews worldwide, nine years of hard work and numerous lineup changes, the band debuted in the album format in 2012 with the release of ‘Portal of I’. The album earned them another round of applause from the four corners of the globe. In the meantime they became one of the most successful and prominent metal proposals in Australia, which allowed them to do several tours as headliners and participate in festivals like Progfest and Sonic Forge, where they shared the stage with Devin Townsend, Enslaved, Soilwork and Suffocation, among others. In 2013 they signed with Season Of Mist, which released the bold second album, entitled ‘Citadel’, in November last year.
Midnight Priest will have the opportunity to show to the masses why they are considered the standard-bearers of the Lusitanian heavy metal. In short, these are three more big names to join the lineup of the festival that, on August 7th, 8th and 9th, will transform the idyllic and seemingly quiet town of Vagos into a real Mecca for lovers of heavy sound in its many varieties.
Legend has it that, on a distant Friday 13th, 2008, a fugitive looking for salvation gave his soul to the Devil. Stumbling on the grave of a priest mastered in magic, he triggered a series of miraculous events that led to the appearance of Midnight Priest. The buzz that was generated around the band from Coimbra soon took proportions rarely seen, with its members asserting themselves as a mixture of heavy metal and punk, which refers immediately to the golden days of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. In the year following the formation of the band, they record the demo ‘The Priest Is Back’ and the debut EP, ‘Queen of Black Magic’, and were noticed because of their retro sound that appealed immediately to the old school fanatics. Suffering from some instability in terms of lineup, the band never shied away from playing live and it was precisely on stage that they developed their very own personality, well mirrored in a homonymous debut album that was released in 2011 with the American independent Stormspell Records. Comprised of nine themes of traditional heavy metal, rough and unpolished, the quintet managed to take listeners on a journey to the beginnings of legends like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate, an attitude that earned them applause, a European tour and participation in festivals such as Wacken Open Air, Up The Hammers and Metal Bats, among others. 2014 finally saw the return to the records with the explosive ‘Midnight Steel’, with new singer Lex Thunder and the first album 100% sung in English.
Already confirmed for the 7th edition of Vagos Open Air Festival, in Quinta do Ega, Vagos, are also the Dutch Within Temptation, the American Overkill, the Swedes Bloodbath, the Finnish Amorphis and Vildjharta, the Swiss Triptykon, the German Destruction and Heaven Shall Burn, the Israeli Orphaned Land and the Spanish Mutant Squad. The Portuguese representation is, so far, complete with the stage presence of Wako, Scar For Life and Moonshade.
Ticket prices: 65 euros (three day pass) and 32 euros (daily). Special pack passes plus official festival t-shirt are also available for purchase.