Get To Grips With Austria’s Dragon’s Cry Festival
Festivals are a type of event that once upon a time were reserved to very few happenings – usually huge, rare events that would group together a large number of well-known acts and mix them with some lesser known ones; much like any normal show, but on a much grander scale.
Obviously, as festivals have grown into a popular industry, the competition between them is even more fierce, with some of the larger talents constantly in demand to feature heavily in festivals all around the world. Because of the current forced focus festivals have on booking the biggest names or quickest-rising stars in the metal scene (often the difference between success or failure), it’s encouraging to see some festivals look deeper into a country’s underground scene to tease out some of the talent that can be buried under a mountain of bands.
One such festival, organized by well-established Austrian bands Dragony and Siren’s Cry, is the two-day Dragon’s Cry Festival in Vienna [bonus points if you get the origin of the festival name], and naturally, we here at the Monolith are going to be giving you an overview as to which bands are up for perusal at the festival, starting with the more melodic bands, moving into more extreme territory, and rounding out with the more unconventional picks.
First up are the two headliners. Dragony have an unabashed love of bombastic power metal, inspired by acts like Avantasia and Blind Guardian, and display this with zest on their début album Legends, which features Ralf Scheepers from Primal Fear as guest vocalist. Having seen the band perform at Metalfest Austria 2012, I can assure you that these guys know how to carry a crowd, from the infectious camaraderie-inspired choruses to their very own “Wall Of Unicorns”.
On the more technically-demanding side, Siren’s Cry are a symphonic-progressive metal band featuring opera singer Katie Bilak, whom I previously saw filling in for Dragony’s vocalist Siegfried Samer at the aforementioned festival performance. Their debut album Scattered Horizons is an impressive romp through intricate melodies, and their as-yet-unnamed sophomore effort promises to also be a highly engaging release.
Staying in melodic territory, traditional-heavy metallers ValSans evoke the heavy metal gods of Saxon, Jag Panzer and Accept to bring a touch of the old-school to festival proceedings, with a healthy dose of mythology to boot (opening track “Mjölnir” is a bit of a give-away). So don your denim and let your hair down…(you have grown your hair out, right?)!
In a similar vein, Grim Justice will be rocking hard and riding free with a blend of hard rock and heavy metal led by frontwoman Michela Vignoli. Despite still being in demo stage, they are sounding promising. Conversely, though they lean a little more on the extreme side, Enclave will be showcasing some kicking heavy/thrash metal from their full-length United Desperation, and the right amount of Megadeth-esque melodies to balance the formula out, which are guaranteed to get more than a few heads nodding. Delving further into thrash, war metallers Mortal Strike show that they are “for the loud and the aggressive” with their raw punk-infused thrash. The band wear their influences on their patches, Slayer and Kreator first and foremost, as can be heard on their Unleash The Hounds Of War EP.
Now well into the extreme end of metal, we have a personal favourite discovery of mine: melodic death/thrash metal quintet Harpia Deiis, whose beauty & the beast vocal trade-off is particularly enjoyable amid the raging guitarwork (think akin to a Finnish-style Deadlock), and it will be intriguing to see the songs from Collapse translate into the live environment. Shifting to a melodeath/metalcore sound, Esseker twist between cleans and tough-guy barks surrounded by a Trivium-esque foundation. Forsaken is certainly a curious-sounding album on my list to give a spin, from the two tracks provided. Finally, the heaviest band on the bill award goes to Sors Immanis (not to be confused with the French black metal band of the same name), whom we will have to leave as a surprise as little is known about them, beyond that they are a death/thrash band who seem to have formed recently, and a new album entitled Fate’s Embrace was completed a couple of months ago. More information to follow.
As for the odder bands attending this festival, let’s start with the big one: Blood God. Formed by Debauchery mastermind Thomas Gurrath, the band hearken back to the days of AC/DC and Airbourne, with straight-forward hard rock riffs. What has carried over from Debauchery is the love of blood, as can be seen in the NSFW video for “Blowjob Barbie”. You may be surprised at how well Gurrath can imitate Brian Johnson! In addition, the undefinable Gradient Of Disorder will be bringing their unique and chaotic sound; comparable to a psychedelic, piano-laden heavy metal with gothic overtones, the band are sure to add a sense of the peculiar to the festival. Finally, we have a crossover/rap metal band by the name of Rohstoff, mixing German-language rap with chugging guitars and thick basslines. Despite not being my primary cup of tea on CD, my experience tells me the live show is almost invariably more intense and enjoyable, as will most likely be the case of many bands on show here.
Overall, Dragon’s Cry is shaping up to be an interesting little endeavour for anyone in Austria or neighbouring countries, and certainly an excellent way to pick up some new bands to listen to, regardless of your listening habits. It also will be a good way to unite metalheads of different scenes, in a much more intimate way than the larger festivals can achieve. Fingers crossed, The Monolith will be in attendance here, providing coverage on as many of the bands mentioned as possible! Check out some choice cuts showing the breadth of the festival below.