Next week: Progressive metal is alive and well at Comendatio Music Fest 2019
Progressive metal – and djent, by extension – has always been a somewhat overlooked genre in Portugal. Though you can usually see bands such as Opeth, Mastodon and Dream Theater perform on Lusitanian grounds, the presence of smaller and much better projects has been lacking at best. If out there in Europe you have festivals like Euroblast, UK Tech Fest and Prognosis Festival, in Portugal there has never really been a festival truly dedicated to this particular genre and its various surrounding subgenres, save the sporadic appearances by the aforementioned bands and some others in a couple mainstream festivals. That is, until now. Dedicating itself to the exploration of the more modern sonorities and movements in metal music, Comendatio Music Fest came in to fill a void that needed closing for good and its incoming third edition is living proof of that commitment.
Let’s start with the first day, shall we? Hailing from the UK is one of the best references when it comes to prog and technical metal – Tesseract. Regarded as being pioneers of the djent movement – alongside their peers in Periphery, Animals as Leaders and Textures -, Tesseract blend progressive music and clean vocals with the heaviness and sluggish riffs of bands like the knövelmetal specialists Meshuggah. Their latest record, Sonder, which the band will be presenting at Comendatio, has been described as an explosive combination of the various traits that make the British quintet so unique and to some, it is their best record to date. You can expect to be blown away by the incredible musicianship and technical prowess of Tesseract once they hit the stage.
But Tesseract aren’t the only ones who will blow your mind on the first day of the festival. The British/Italian Nosound are sure to melt some brains with their attractive mixture of post-rock, electronic and ambient music, heavily influenced by Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Pink Floyd and Brian Eno. Initially formed solely by Giancarlo Erra, the group soon expanded as the demand for live performances increased. Now they are a fully-fledged band that has performed live in various European hotspots and will be coming down to Portugal to showcase their latest release, Allow Yourself. Kandia are others that will surely leave no one indifferent to their presence, which has been polarizing ever since their emergence in 2014. Winners of international music competitions, the group led by Nya Cruz will be at the first day of Comendatio to play material from their entire discography. You can expect some good vibes and all around soul touching music.
Continuing the trend of mind-bending bands are Sullen, a group from Porto that practices experimental music with somber tones, a characteristic that has set them apart from the rest. Their only record to date, Post Human, is a reflection of the band’s perception of the world that surrounds them and that uses the term “musical journey” as a starting point and a reference link between each song, covering a diversity of moods and experiences. The group is currently working on their sophomore record so the antecipation is at an all time high and maybe we will get to hear some new material this coming weekend. From experimental music, we got to the more conventional and straight forward genres, of which Pântano are experts. Fusing southern rock with grunge, these guys guys evoke Kyuss, Alice in Chains and Down in their sound and the result is simply marvellous. Composed of current and former members of WAKO – who are also playing the festival -, as well as Low Torque and Subversive, you can expect a really cool southern-style rock n’ roll show when this trio hits the stage. The first day is completed by the progressive metal Kælling, who will be presenting their debut record, Lacuna, and Allamedah, one of two bands that come from the Battle of the Bands co-organised between Comendatio Music Fest and Moita Metal Fest. Vincent Cavanagh of the famous prog rock group Anathema will handle DJ duties in the afterparty.
Headlining the second day of the festival will be the sharpest dressed band in all of metal, Leprous. Hailing from Norway, this brilliant quintet learned the ways of the dark side from their master Ihsahn – the mythical frontman of legendary black metal band Emperor -, and are now one of the most recognizable names of the entire progressive metal genre. Records such as Tall Poppy Syndrome, Bilateral and Coal helped them gain worldwide recognition and their most recent release, Malina, cemented their status as one of the best bands out there today. Their live performances are as energetic as their music and the entire audiovisual scenario they bring with them is something that needs to be seen to be fully experienced. Before them, we will be able to see Uneven Structure, a quartet from France that has been slowly paving its way to the top of the Tech metal world. Currently, they are putting the finishing touches to the follow-up of 2017s La Partition, so expect to hear some brand-new polyrhythmic passages and low tuned guitar riffs mixed with some fine ambient soundscapes. Finishing up the international roster is the British/Finnish group Wheel, who very recently released their brand-new record, Moving Backwards, which they will be presenting in all its suspenseful glory at Comendatio Music Fest and the Chilean Crisalida, who mix a variety of genres to create a unique sound deeply rooted in folk, art rock and, of course, prog rock.
Going into a slower groove, we have the Portuguese supergroup Sinistro. Composed by members of We Are The Damned and Besta and led by the charismatic Patrícia Andrade, the quintet will bring the doom side of music to Comendatio. Believe us when we tell you that a Sinistro live performance is unlike any other – a truly artistic reverence that needs to be savoured in its various forms. We mentioned WAKO earlier and here they are too, performing on the second day of the festival but keeping the tempos fast unlike Sinistro. Their only two records to date, Deconstructive Essence and The Road of Awareness, are still attributed as some of the best death/groove metal to come out of Portugal. You will be able to see why when you catch them live. The rest of the day is reserved for A Last Day On Earth, who practice a version of nu metal influenced by Killswitch Engage and Deftones, and Needle who, like Allamedah, come from the Battle of the Bands mentioned above. António Freitas will be in charge of the afterparty DJing on the second day.
Lineup talk completed, we would be remiss not to mention a few details about the event itself. First things first, the event is located in Paço da Comenda, a town close to Tomar. You can reach it by car via the A1 highway or the national highway N349 – parking is available near the venue. If you are coming by train, you will need to catch a train from Linha do Norte and leave at the Paialvo station, the venue will be within walking distance. Alternatively, Strike Tours still has some spots left in the buses that depart from Lisbon, Braga and Porto, among other cities, to the festival. You can consult all info, here. Free camping is available at a site right next to the venue, with foodcourts, WCs and showering areas accessible to all. Oh and before we forget, the timetable for the band’s performances is also available for your convenience – you can check it here. See you all there.
Comendatio Music Fest 2019 takes place in Paço da Comenda, in Tomar, on June 8th-9th. A small numbers of daily and two-day tickets are still available for 30 and 40 euros, respectively, and can be purchased online via the festival’s website, here. On June 7th, the festival will host a warm-up party for two-day ticket holders with bands such as Serrabulho and Shivers, among others.