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This Thursday night promises to be a loud one at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds as Swedish metal bands Draconian and Therion join forces with local act Distorted for a one-off performance of intense guitar playing, head-splitting drumming and growling vocals.
"We're really looking forward to it," Draconian's Anders Jacobsson told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview last week. "We've wanted to come to Israel for some time but it hasn't happened until now."
Draconian has been on the metal scene since 1994. The seven-person ensemble is considered to be a cross between Gothic metal (vocal combinations that promote aggressive male vocals and with ethereal female soprano notes) and Doom metal (emphasis on gloom, melancholy and atmospheric music).
"We don't limit ourselves to anything," says Jacobsson. "We are dark Gothic Metal with influences from doom and death metal. We're a progressive Gothic Doom band."
For those wondering how Draconian will fill the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds, it may come as a surprise to know that a Goth subculture thrives here in Israel. According to Draconian's local promoter Yishai Schwartz, there are over 10,000 Goths currently living in Israel and the scene here continues to grow. The local gothic subculture began to gain popularity in the late 1990s (though its roots sprang from the punk-rock movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s) and now at least half a dozen Israeli metal bands can be found.
Draconian has three CDs to its name, two original albums - Where Lovers Mourn (2003) and Arcane Rain Fell (2005) - and The Burning Halo (2006), a bonus disc of its own songs in fresh renditions. The group is currently working on a new original album.
And while the posse has been around for over a decade, seeing Draconian live on stage is considered to be an extraordinary treat. Jacobsson explains that though the group is dedicated to its music and has received accolades from fans and critics alike, it has never cashed in with its tunes and thus has everyday responsibilities.
"Most of us have regular day jobs in addition to Draconian. Nothing glamorous, but the work pays the bills," 32-year-old Jacobsson says, noting jobs like a sports store clerk, health care worker and a flower shop owner. "Some of us work really hard [in our day jobs], but the music is our passion."
Draconian came about in May 1994 when Johan Ericson (drums, vocals), former member Andy Hindenas (guitars) and former member Jesper Stolpe (bass, vocals) joined forces as Kerberos, a melodic death metal band with black metal influences. Seven months later, lead vocalist Jacobsson joined the group and the band's name was changed to Draconian. Jacobsson told the Post that the name has nothing to do with the Merriam Webster definition of "draconian," meaning cruel and severe. "There are different definitions of the word and that was not our definition," he says. "The main reason why we changed our name was that I was very into something called Draconian magic."
Over the years Draconian's members, who today range in age from 26-33, have come and gone, yet the Swedish musicians have kept form and developed into one of Europe's top Doom Metal acts. "It took a lot of years," says Jacobsson, "but we have progressed a lot and have found the real structure to our music."
Asked which is better, seeing the band live or listening to its albums, Jacobsson pauses for a moment then says, "I've never seen Draconian live. But I can say that I get a better feeling on stage than when I listen to our album."
Draconian will perform at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds on August 30 with bands Therion and Distorted. Doors open at 7 p.m.