WELCOME TO THE WASTELAND: SWR BARROSELAS METALFEST XXI – DAY 0 AND 1
Sunny days aren’t a common sight in Barroselas at this time of the year, but that’s how we are greated upon arriving on the quiet town. To most, arriving early at a festival means having plenty of space and time to unpack, mount tents and soak up the surroundings. On SWR Barroselas Metalfest it also means getting early to the party, for it starts one day before the actual date, at the SWR Arena, a free entrance stage. A warm-up, if you will. Call it day zero.
It is sort of a tradition by now and this year is no different. The festivities began slowly with Paisiel, a peculiar project that mixes drums with saxophone. It would have interesting results were it not for the sound not being in the best shape from the start. It did get a bit better once We Dream Alone, a Swedish band of the so-called New Wave of Gothenburg Metal, took to the stage, but it wasn’t until their compatriots Firebreather came to the scene, however, that things started to pick up the pace. It was at this point that we started seeing the first headbangs of the night, all thanks to the swedish stoner-filled riffs.
The remainder of the night was reserved for two very distinctive projects. The first, called Putas Bêbadas, played what they call whore punk. It’s not a coincidence that the band’s name translates from Portuguese to “drunken whores”, that is their theme in a nutshell. Not necessarily a bad thing, but their performance, unlike the occasional cheap whore, was lackluster at best.
The true first day of the festival started once again at SWR Arena, with Oak and Placenta Powerfist entertaining the arriving public, each their own way. It wasn’t until Vulvodynia assaulted one of the main stages – the aptly named Warrior’s Abyss -, that everyone started to really warm-up. With huge smiles on their faces that demonstrated an enormous pleasure of playing for the first time in Portugal and with an arsenal of songs from their latest record, Psychosadistic Design, the band delivered a brutal performance which served as a perfect preview of what was yet to come over the weekend.
Jumping to the second main stage – the Loud! Dungeon -, Départe suffocated the air a bit with their post-black metal, performing songs from their debut album, Failure, Subside. More interesting was the ritual which was about to unfold back at the Abyss. All the way from Italy came Mortuary Drape, adorned with ceremonial robes and with vocalist Walter using a lectern as if he was about to give an infernal sermon to the masses. And an infernal sermon they gave, blasting through their discography, playing classic after classic, like “Necromaniac” and “Tregenda (Dance in Shroud)”.
We then found the Dungeon clad in a veil of darkness with only a flickering light as a light source. It could only mean one thing: Hexis were about to destroy the stage. This was another quick performance by the Danes who mix black metal with hardcore, something that yields surprising, yet satisfying results.
It was then time for one of our most anticipated bands to step onto the stage, Master’s Hammer. This was a “past meets the present” kind of concert, in a way, as the Czech focused their attention on two records in particular: Ritual and Fascinator, their first and their latest release, respectively. It was also their first time in Portugal, something vocalist Franta Štorm did not refrain from mentioning, stating it was a very special night for them. It was for us as well. And even though the concert itself was nothing out of the ordinary, it was nice seeing a classic band such as Master’s Hammer perform at SWR.
Contrasting this feeling were Holland’s Teethgrinder, who relentlessly assaulted the Dungeon, taking no prisoners and smashing faces all the way through. This same ideal continued on this stage with Obliteration, playing their apocalyptic death metal mixed with high-pitched vocals, but not before Exhorder crushed the Abyss stage. Hailed as the creators of groove-oriented thrash metal, the legendary band returned last year to play a few shows, so naturally, the expectations were high for this one. Fortunately, the band delivered the goods, performing songs from their two full-length releases, Slaughter in the Vatican and The Law, leaving everyone tired from all the moshing and crowd surfing, but content. There was a little mishap with the drum kit mid-show, but nothing that would halt the band, who handled the situation with class and good humour.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Marta Rebelo