Epic Fest - 2023

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Dragonland was the first Gothenburg orchestra to grace the Epic Fest, with Dream Evil headlining the day later on. Dragonland was a new entity for me, but they’ve apparently been around since 1999, releasing their debut in 2001, and having a good six full length albums to their name by now, the latest one being The Power Of The Nightstar, which was released less than half a year ago, so still pretty fresh off the presses.

“Good evening Gimle and Denmark, our friendly Carlsberg neighbour!”
- Jonas Heidgert (vocals)

Dragonland had some technical issues which ended up delaying their show for about 15 minutes - luckily the festival was accommodating enough to let them play their full set anyway, and just let the festival run on for longer than initially planned, as the delay also affected all the following bands.
When Dragonland were finally ready to begin, they had the intro of The Power Of The Nightstar, The Awakening, play over the speakers while they got in position - all except vocalist Jonas Heidgert that is, who only stepped on stage when it was time to sing. This would prove to be part of the path laid down for the show - the songs would have to do the work, as little was said between them and not a single one of the songs were introduced to us.

Maybe they were stressed from the delay, and tried to make up for lost time by going from song to song, but at least there was some rocking out during the songs. Brand new drummer Johan Nunez (and here we have another Dream Evil connection, as Nunez is also the drummer for Gus G.’s self titled solo project and his main band Firewind; Gus G., who is one of the founders of Dream Evil) was really going at it in the best of ways, and their current live guitarist (it might be Stuart Docherty who’s had a makeover, but I’m not sure) was really going at it as well, whereas bassist Anders Hammer was rocking, but to a lesser degree.
On the other end of the spectrum, it would be really nice if guitarist Jesse Lindskog and keyboardist Elias Holmlind (who constantly reminded me of writer/director/producer/vocalist Mick Garris, but that’s a whole different story) would have looked up from their shoes once in a while, and while he had a weak start in the first song, at least Heidgert warmed up during the set and became more and more active with his performance as well.
He went so far as to demand some real crowd participation for The Black Mare, with a wish for people to sing along; I don’t know how many actually knew the song, but there were some raised arms here and there, and Heidgert had better luck with getting everyone to applaud the same song later on.

“I think this whole event of super epic nerdiness is a stroke of genius, and we’re super flattered to be invited!”
- Heidgert (vocals)

While the crowd may have been a little slow on the uptake, they did get another chance to sing along later on to Holy War, a song Heidgert claimed the band hadn’t played for some 15 years.
Even though Holy War worked a little better than The Black Mare, it still paled completely in comparison with the absolute explosion the band would deliver as their grand finale - their cover version of Limahl’s The NeverEnding Story. I knew they had recorded this, but had managed to forget it in time for the show, so it was an extra surprise when it came on, and it blew everyone away, and finally everyone could happily sing loudly along!

While going out on a magnificent bang, I must admit that the rest of the show didn’t exactly grab me, and while most of the band gave the performance a good effort, the overall feeling was a bit underwhelming, sadly.


The Awakening
A Light In The Dark
Flight From Destruction
The Black Mare
Holy War
The Power Of The Nightstar
The NeverEnding Story (Limahl cover)


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