NIGHT OF THE SLOW RIFF: AMPLIFIER WORSHIP II
A couple of months before 2019 ended and a few days after attending Amplifest, we returned to the beautiful streets of Porto to attend another festival, a smaller one by the name of Amplifier Worship. Named after the seminal sophomore record by Boris, the focus and concept of this festival was very clear: provide the richest and most interesting music experiences in a live environment. This particular night was the first of two – although, later down the line, it became its only night -, and it was part of the festival’s second edition. It featured four very distinct bands, each touching upon a particular side of the underground metal scene.
The first ones to set foot on the stage of CCOP, where the festival was held, were the Portuguese duo OAK. Playing a more candid and atmospheric version of funeral doom mixed with death metal, the duo of vocalist/guitarist Guilherme Henriques and drummer Pedro Soares distilled gloom upon the audience that slowly congregated to the sound of the heavy riffs and growling chants present in Lone, the second LP by OAK and one they were performing in full that night. In contrast to the isolation and desperation of their music was Redemptus’ energetic discharge, which was felt moments later. This sludge trio led by Paulo Rui (Besta, Verdun) assaulted the stage with a moderately faster rhythm section, as evidenced by tracks such as “Peered Into Everyone’s Fate” and “Unravelling the Garden of All Forking Paths” that resounded and ricocheted over the venue’s walls and engrained themselves in our bodies.
There was a moment of odd reprieve afterwards, as the insane drone musings of one Gnaw Their Tongues were about to be heard and felt. Performing a rare solo show, Mories took the audience by its throat with his constant barrage of chaotically distorted atonal sounds and bellowing howls that seemed to protrude for the deepest and darkest abyss. On the rarest moments the venue wasn’t filled with these maddening sonorities, we could hear the haunting chants of priests of “Your Kingdom Shrouded in Blood” or the faint drone interludes Mories would perform inbetween tracks. The British mystics of Bong came afterwards as the last performance of the evening. In a somewhat stripped down version that didn’t fill the room with smoke, the band commenced its ceremonious ritual with the lethargic and esoteric chants of Dave Terry. The whole performance consisted on a semi-improvised rendition of the song “Polaris”, from Bong’s Stoner Rock record and stood as an example of why the group is highly-regarded as a mainstay in the genre. Incredibly focused and entranced on their performance, Bong enchant every audience that meets them, inviting everyone to close their eyes in awe of their droning expertise and to dream of psychedelic landscapes filled with mesmerizing mountains of smoke and weird characters. An excellent performance that closed a short but symbolic night.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photography by Marta Rebelo