IV FOLK FEST ZARAGOZA , 20-21 September, Zaragoza (Spain)


After the excellent II Iberian Warriors, in 2016, this is the second time I have been to Zaragoza for a festival, curiously at the same venue. In the absence of such themed festivals in Portugal, and with the definition of an awesome line-up (many friends included) I have to take my portuguese flag there!

DAY 1:

   Folk Fest 2019 - PRIMER DÍA - 20 Septiembre 2019 [After show movie]

Quite a stress with the voyage, planned a long time ago, by flight from Lisbon to Madrid and then bus to Zaragoza. The problem is nowadays the Lisbon airport is overcrowded and all flights take off with delay. When having just one hour to take the bus (at the same terminal) and the take off delayed about 45 minutes, you can imagine! Anyway there was no further delays and I arrive to the nice city of Zaragoza still with time to check in at the hotel.

One hour before the show I arrived to CC Delicias, met the organization personally, Gonzalo Battle and colleagues, started the talk with the bands and spending some money. First signed stuff and first photos taken. That's one of the most enjoyable things in this kind of festivals, how easy it is to chat with the bands, and all of them are so friendly. I'm an old-timer but still it's an emotion to take a pic and chat with the talented sisters and brothers that produce such great Metal.

Pontually, at 19h00, the festival started with the first band ULFSARK. This band from Madrid plays an Epic Viking Metal with some Power. The setlist was mainly composed with songs from the 2016 Einherjar EP, their unique work to date. If it started with a couple dozen persons in the room, by the end, the crowd was reasonable and started to interact.

The second act was OCELON, another band from Madrid. This Folk Metal band released only one album in 2016, all setlist came from that. The seven members, including violin and bagpipe/whistle, delivered a quite good show. On one acoustic moment they came all out of the stage, with the crowd sitting on the floor. Also some funny moments, like a flying signed underwear and some messages to the public on the back of a guitar.


To me Amalur was one of the best 2017 albums, so INCURSED was a band that I wanted to see for a long time and then... twice in less than a month. However in this show, as it didn't happen in Portugal, Jonkol used his portable keyboard. My friends from the Basque Country performed another excellent show with their Viking Pagan Folk Metal, songs spanning from almost all career with emphasis on the last album Amalur. Javi (ex-Drakum vocalist) was a guest in a song. The show ended perfectly with the A-Ha cover Take On Me (from The Slavic Covenant EP).

I was very curious about LEMURIA, a Melodic Black Belgian band, that released this year a good album, after a 9 years hiatus. And it exceeded my expectations. From what I knew, I was surprised by strong guitars and good bass/drums, as well as an energetic vocalist. Glad that the orchestrations level was minimal. Almost all setlist came from The Hysterical Hunt (last album) with the exception of two songs coming from the previous one. A quite good show, they would be very welcome to Portugal.

The last band of the first day, SALDUIE, was a replacement for Steignyr and repeated last year's presence on the festival. With a stage invoking the recent album Viros Veramos concept, the iberian resistance to the Roman Empire, soon it was visible that they were playing at home with an excellent reaction from everybody. Not being a surprise to me (played in Lisbon on October 2017 opening for Skyforger and Air Raid), the octet reduced to septet (one of the vocalists on honeymoon) delivered a great party folk show plenty of bagpipes. The setlist also included several songs from the previous two albums.

DAY 2:

   Folk Fest 2019 - SEGUNDO DÍA - 21 Septiembre 2019 [After show movie]

As the show started only at 19h00, I took the morning to a walk and visit some parts of Zaragoza that I didn't know. Besides the Basilica and Cathedral, that I already knew, I recommend Aljaferia (a moorish palace), cheap entrance (unlikely in Lisbon monuments).

Again, one hour before the shows, I was back to CC Delicias. And it was awesome to review the friends from Aephanemer and Drakum and to know (and spend more money) the nice people from Waylander, Furor Gallico and Ravenblood. For the second day, the number of metalheads was visibly larger.

At scheduled time, the epic folk death metal of the catalanians RAVENBLOOD started. They delivered an energetic show, well commanded by the vocalist Daniel Perez (quite hard to take not shaked photos). The 10 songs from the setlist were got from the 2 albums of the band. The crowd started to become quite animated.

DRAKUM, my friends from Barcelona were next, with their Troll Folk Death Metal and what a great performance it was. This show marked the farewell of the vocalist Umbra Hatzler. The band deserves much more recognition with their melodic death where the violin plays an important role. Besides songs from their album and EP, a couple of new songs from the coming album were played. And the public went wild. The show ended in party with the Beetlejuice movie score.

I was wandering how the spanish public will react to AEPHANEMER, the only band in the fest that doesn't incorporate Folk. Following the band since the beginning, their booking was my main incentive to come to this fest. But if I had any doubts, these were vanished after the first notes. The space fullfilled fast and those that did not knew the band were rapidly conquered. A side note: I was not the far away person to come to see the band: at breakfast in the hotel I met a swedish guy that came principally for Aephanemer. The 7 songs of the setlist from the 2 albums run too fast, glad they included my favorite Snowblind. This band is growing fast and getting many fans everywhere with their superb Melodic Death.

So much curiosity for seeing FUROR GALLICO. The representatives of the Italian Folk Metal includes a celtic harp and published the recent Dusk of the Ages, quite an interesting album. Being a quintet, when alive they incorporate three more members. With male and female vocals, the setlist included 10 songs, mainly from the last album and where couldn't be missed the beautiful Canto D'Inverno. The show ended perfectly with The Gates of Annwn.

After 4 excellent bands, it was up to WAYLANDER, from Northern Ireland, to close the fest. Another band that I badly wanted to see, with a recent good album released seven years after the last one. The Celtic Folk Metal was plenty demonstrated by the sextet with the characteristic pagan roots sound then cut by the delicacy of the whistle or mandolin. 10 songs from several albums, of course focusing on the last one, were delivered efficiently, but I have to highlight Ard Chieftain O'Hagan (vocals) for the emotive and theatrical performance.

It was another awesome experience in Zaragoza, well worth the voyage. Congratulations to the organization, to all the bands and the public for such a great festival. I hope that next year a similar quality line-up may be booked.

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