28.4.2024 Summer Breeze Festival Brazil – Day 3 @ Memorial da América Latina, São Paulo

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The last weekend of April was one of the most anticipated of the year for Brazilian metalheads. It was on the 26th, 27th, and 28th of April that São Paulo hosted the second edition of the Summer Breeze Festival in the country, and the result of these three days is the certainty that the event has arrived in Brazil to stay.

The festival’s first edition last year raised the bar in the continent’s metal festival structure and production to a very high level, setting an example of how to do things the right way. The most notable change in this year’s edition was adding one more day to make it a three-day festival instead of two. This allowed the organization to highlight more Brazilian and some other South American countries’ metal bands on the small stage, where we discovered many interesting small bands deserving more attention.

Exploring different subgenres of rock and metal, the Brazilian version of the German festival has once again established itself with shows as hot as the temperature on those days – and the biggest proof of it is precisely the fact that the heat seemed to bother the fans little, as they were banging and singing like there’s no tomorrow. On the festival’s final day on April 28th, 2024, bands like BATTLE BEAST, RATOS DE PORÃO, AVATAR, CARCASS, AMORPHIS, ANTHRAX, and MERCYFUL FATE were scheduled.

The Finns of BATTLE BEAST have been steadily rising and are already knocking on the gates of heavy hitters in the power metal genre, rightfully claiming their spot among the crème de la crème. They raged on stage, playfully connecting with their Brazilian audience, which is famous for becoming pretty wild with good interaction. Vocalist Noora Louhimo is simply a force of nature on stage, and right now, there are not many who could seriously challenge her crown when it comes to talent and performance. The show almost turned into a theatrical performance with her demonic costume, and she played with the audience with such ease, making it impossible not to like their show. It felt like the audience had been eagerly waiting for them, and in my opinion, they delivered one of the best shows of the entire festival weekend. I also need to point out that their set sounded amazing! Their latest album, “Circus Of Doom,” is their strongest work yet, and almost half of the setlist consisted of songs from it. Something tells me they have to come back to Latin America pretty soon for a full-blown headliner tour; they’re on the brink of massive success on the continent.

The Brazilian hardcore and crossover legends, RATOS DE PORÃO, are enjoying a tour of more than 40 years, being one of the truest-to-their-values bands in the scene. It speaks volumes about them that when they got on the bill of Summer Breeze Brasil 2024, they decided to organize a free show in São Paulo’s poorer districts two days before their festival show to promote inclusion and equality. It was also a strong statement against the festival’s ticket prices, which rose to North European standards and beyond, leaving many fans without a chance to enter. The band members are active in their communities when it comes to charity work or organizing food aid for the homeless. With more than 40 years under their belt, they put on a live performance for youngsters to look up to. They easily drew one of the biggest crowds on the third stage, making the big space look smaller and full of mosh pits. Their latest release, “Necropolítica,” from 2022, upgraded their sound towards more metallic hardcore, spat out with thrashy riffs and punk, underlined with venomous lyrics about modern times Brazil. The cellar rats are on fire, and the Finns are up for a treat as they will take over Helsinki on July 10th after 15 years since their last visit!

For some reason, I’ve been trying not to check out AVATAR and dismiss them as something I thought was overrated; silly me. You might not warm up to their mixture of circus and melodic death metal, but you have to be a boring ass bonehead if you’re not entertained by their live shows. I know there are doubters when it comes to these bands, but just trust me, you will be entertained if you attend their show. I could go to their show just to see the vocalist Johannes Eckerström‘s performance in between the songs! What a perfect frontman, who is some kind of freakish mixture of The Crow, Beetlejuice, and the Joker. Definitely one of the most entertaining shows of the festival. The sun was beaming hot straight onto the band during their set, but they kept it hyper-energetic, even joking that “letting your Swedes in the sun lights them on fire.” Hell of a show!

“There’s one thing in common with all the bands on the bill. We all made shitty albums in the ’90s.” This was CARCASSJeff Walker‘s introduction to their set after “Buried Dreams” and “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” were blasted to an audience eagerly awaiting the legendary death and grindcore veterans. I might beg to differ on the ’90s albums joke, but their setlist still offered a cross-section reflecting on their career, giving room also to “Swansong” and “Heartwork.” The sun didn’t do them many favors, and to be fair, it’s quite annoying to play in the heat. The set went on with their famous dry British humor, playing the classics of their career and allowing their audience to bask in their death metal happy place.

This was the last stop of the 9-show The Halo Latin America tour for AMORPHIS. They had the honor of closing the festival’s third stage. Clearly, it was one of the most awaited shows of the day, and fairly so, since these Finns don’t come around the neighborhood that often. The band used classy dark blue lighting in most of their set, making it fitting for their latest album “Halo.” Only two songs were played from the last album, with “Northwards” and “The Moon.” Even though their setlist could’ve been longer, they made a decision to leave the audience thirsty for more for the next encounter, which will hopefully be a full set. The band has such a strong catalog of albums to choose from; they could easily do a special house band invasion at a prestigious venue for a few days of different sets. I have no doubt a venue like that would happily accommodate them in São Paulo, for example. This band has created a magical mystique around themselves, which has made their audience love them even more. Their craft has reached such a high level that even with the solo works of their band members, it’s fascinating to see how deep their inspiration well actually goes. Expect nothing but quality from AMORPHIS.

ANTHRAX was the other headliner of the day, with MERCYFUL FATE playing on the twin main stage. The only logistical nightmare of the festival was the entrance to the other side of the area through a bridge between the other twin main stage and the third stage. The organizers didn’t pay attention to the crowd’s free movement when entering the main stage side. You would get bottled up in a slow queue that would take you, in the worst case, 15 minutes to get a bit further from the stage. This made the movement sometimes very annoying, especially when a band played on the main stage closer to the bridge. Also, there is an art sculpture blocking a lot of the view of the stage if you get stuck on that side of the stage. As I was trying to catch a bit of the ANTHRAX set, I got a bit turned off about this since they drew the biggest audience alongside MERCYFUL FATE and, of course, the biggest bottlenecks in the audience traffic. Anyways, I love seeing them live because of the genuine positive energy they bring with their performance. What made the show very special was that they played it together with one of the founding members of the band, Dan Lilker, on the bass after 40 years. An absolute all-time classic set with a nice surprise for the Brazilians when Andreas Kisser, from SEPULTURA, joined them on stage for “I Am The Law.”

All the prayers of the band’s faithful were answered when the festival announced MERCYFUL FATE’s full production headliner show. There was a genuine sense of gratitude in the audience during the set; some sort of heavy metal trance transcended and took over the 20,000-strong audience. It felt like a trip to a fountain where you rediscovered how great heavy metal actually is. This show was finely crafted with high production value. The stage was built as a coven, which allowed especially King Diamond to roam freely and perform his rites at the right spots. At one point, he pointed out to the audience that he’s happy that they sing better than he does. I thought this was unnecessary because his voice was fine and sounded exactly how it should sound. But it’s pretty nice he doesn’t take himself too seriously and plays around with the things he might be criticized for (for no reason!). Hank Shermann offered a rare look at how an elderly statesman of heavy metal can be the essence of cool on stage. I’m pretty sure they left an unforgettable mark on everyone there. It wasn’t the most important show of the festival for me, but it was for most of the people.

Written by Fernanda Nunes and Jules Näveri
Photos by Jules Näveri, Fernanda Nunes, and Sara Nunes