The pride of Vienna, power metal six piece Dragony, have been going strong for over a decade now, and at the onset of 2021 release their fourth full length, Viribus Unitis. Inspired by and dealing with the life and battles of Emperor Franz Joseph I, the album doesn’t really take as many liberties with historical accuracy as the album cover would suggest, but neither does it go in depth to the extent such an interesting theme could certainly need. Obviously taking hints from countrymen and fellow power metal enthusiasts Serenity, Dragony extend their influences across the melodic realm, as well as tossing in a few classical elements - for example the interesting take on The Blue Danube which acts as the intro - to make the sound their own. Nods to the likes of Sabaton in build and accessibility add to the humourous touch throughout, as they set things rolling.
Varying the styles - though always keeping the heart intact - throughout the album, Dragony run through the motions without seemingly running through the motions; opener Gods of War is a speedy number that sets the record straight from the get go. Coupled with the orchestral intro, it shows Dragony have their focus set on stalwart power metal in every direction. Moments like Magic take an AOR like route, bordering on what Serious Black have been trying to do for a few albums now - but doing it better. Throughout they keep blending Sabaton, Serenity and the Gloryhammer-esque with the style they’ve built for themselves throughout the years, and Powerwolf-ish theatricality to boot. Described like this it sounds a mish-mash, but the proof is in the pudding; Dragony pull it off, thanks to keeping the tongue in cheek elements in check and backing the whole thing up with earnestness and quality songwriting. The songwriting is accessible, fairly simple in build and focusing on the strong choruses, every one of which manages to be captivating and big sounding, owing to the performance of vocalist Siegfried Samerand his utter conviction, as well as the triumphant sound of Manuel Hartleb’s delicious keyboard delivery.
The musicianship is every bit as great from guitarists Andreas Poppernitsch and Simon Saito, melodic leads alongside Hartleb’s keys and some thrifty riffing to boot, Darkness Within and Made of Metal (Cyberpunk Joseph) sporting some great riffage to set things off. The solo dueling between the three include some of the biggest highlights on the album. Then there’s the fleshy double bass beats from Frederic Brünner (take Legends Never Die for instance). Viribus Unitis isn’t one of those super great albums that redefine the genre, but it knows exactly what it is and it manages to snatch some highlights from other success stories while also sounding fresh and invigorating. The opening few tracks are incredibly energetic, and while there are a couple of filler tracks and some moments that don’t strike as hard or as triumphantly - including whatever the hell closer (and another cover of a classic tune) Haben Sie Wien schon bei Nacht geseh'n is supposed to be - Viribus Unitis manages to be captivating in its own right, oozing with charm and cheese, homages to the band’s own heroes that sound entirely their own, and it’s definitely a highlight to start off 2021.
Standout tracks: Love You to Death, Magic, Battle Royale, Legends Never Die