Album Title: Viribus Unitis
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 15 January 2021
Keen to redress the balance of last year, when power metal seemed to fall of the face of the planet…or at least quality power metal releases at any rate, I have actively kept a weather eye on any potential albums that might pique my interest in 2021. First up, is a new name for me, and what a name: Dragony.
I can’t find any cast iron evidence of this, but I am convinced that the Austrian sextet are a bit of a parody band. First, there’s the name. Then there’s the band pictures (example below). And finally, there’s the subject matter. I can only comment on this record as it’s my first dalliance with Dragony. However, according to the press release, this album takes us back to the late 19th Century when Austria was ruled by an Emperor, Franz Joseph. The Emperor and his wife Sisi had a son, Archduke Rudolph and Dragony seek to tell an alternate tale of the exploits of Rudolph after the assassination of his mother in 1898. Dark arts, zombies and Cyber Punks all feature in this epic symphonic power metal romp, ‘Viribus Unitis’.
Regardless of whether Dragony are deadly serious or firmly tongue-in-cheek, it must be said that the music is pretty good. I won’t proclaim that the six-piece are at the very top of their genre, because I don’t think that’s the case. Not yet, anyway. However, ‘Viribus Unitis’ is a very solid and enjoyable album of symphonic power metal of the European variety. It contains a ton of cheese, but that goes with the territory and personally, I happen to like a slice of Gouda as much as the next person.
The album kicks off with an instrumental intro ‘On The Blue Danube’ which features the waltz of the same name composed by fellow Austrian, Johan Strauss II. It’s an interesting beginning, albeit entirely in keeping with the geography and chronology of the album’s central story.
From there though, we’re transported into full-on high speed symphonic power metal territory with ‘Gods Of War’. Double-pedal drumming, fast riffs, tinkling keys and typical clean vocals from Siegfried Samer lead into a catchy chorus complete with choral vocals and heightened orchestration to create a rousing and bombastic composition. It’s hard not to like the music, whatever misgivings you may have, because it’s so damn infectious.
This isn’t the only cracking slab of power metal pomp either, as ‘Love You To Death’ and ‘Magic’ to name a couple. The former starts with a cinematic, classical intro before exploding with faux grandiosity. The song settles into a more sedate mid-tempo stomp, with passages of quieter contemplation complete with whispered vocals. But again, after about the third spin, the chorus works its magic and gets stuck in your head. It’s rousing, chest-pounding fare that would sound great on the festival circuit, should we ever get back to those heady days.
‘Magic’ is another brisk affair with some great bass work in the quieter verses, plenty of key and guitar solos, violins, and another appealing chorus that carries a triumphant air about it. ‘A.E.I.O.U.’ features a guest appearance from Georg Neuhauser of Serenity fame, whilst ‘Made Of Metal (Cyberpunk Joseph)’ is brilliantly preposterous, in that it drastically changes Dragony’s tack. Out go the symphonic trappings and in comes the Eurovision, courtesy of a simpler, mid-tempo track with modern influences, bold synths, and a chorus that is awful, but catchy and irresistible at the same time. Oh what the hell, it’s not awful, it’s just gorgonzola city!
The last few tracks is where things start to unravel just a little because the music feels like it loses some of its ‘wow’ factor. It remains bombastic and over-the-top, but the songs sound a touch unremarkable compared with the early offerings that actually held my attention way more than I thought they would.
However, all things considered, ‘Viribus Unitis’ is a far more enjoyable record than I suspected it might be. You have to be someone who likes a good dose of absurdity to enjoy this album to its fullest, but if that’s you and you’re also a fan of European symphonic power metal, Dragony might be the tonic you’re looking for. I therefore recommend ‘Viribus Unitis’ more highly than I ever anticipated.
The Score of Much Metal: 82%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: