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Dragony: Viribus Unitis

One of my many laments when it comes to the rise of streaming music platforms and album downloads is the declining importance of cover art. Largely gone are the days when you could peruse your local store's shelves and notice a particularly eye catching piece of art that would pique your interest. That's a shame because if Dragony's latest release were on store shelves back in those days there's damn near no way you could walk past it without picking it up. 19th century clothing, Nokola Tesla with a gun, Houdini, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria in a steampunk battle suit, and zombies. A cover like this may not tell you whether or not you'll be into what lurks inside, but it surely will tell you if you won't.

Dragony's fourth LP, Viritus Unitis is a playful metal opera that turns their Austrian homeland's history on it's head by introducing an alternate timeline in which Emperor Joseph's son revives his mother through dark magic to create a zombie army. At some point Tsela and Houdini show up and the emperor becomes a steampunk cyborg to put an end to the madness himself. It's goofy and hilarious, but manages to come off as charming because of how much enthusiasm the band injects into the music and lyrics throughout the course of the story. Music for dorks, by dorks. And I approve.

Dragony play a familiar style of melodic power metal, not unlike Austrian cohorts Serenity or genre stalwart Freedom Call. Less emphasis is put on crunchy riffs and more is placed on hooks, beer stein raising choruses, and blistering speed. While the bulk of this particular album is loaded with speedy double-kick drums and blazing guitars, there's enough mid paced rockers and march-esque anthems to keep you from getting burned out. It's a nicely paced album from front to back.

After a short intro (The Blue Danube Waltz, you've definitely heard it before), Dragony gets right to work, as any good power metal album should. Lead single and barn burner "Gods of War" is a great lead off track: Fast, choir-laden chorus, and nice hooks. Exactly what you would hope for and scratches that euro-power itch very nicely. "Love you to Death" slows things down a bit, with a march tempo and a melody line very reminiscent of the old American Civil War song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (again, you've definitely heard it before). Dragony, not merely content with steampunk emperors and zombies, now gives you a helping of Americana, whether it was intentional or not.

"Magic" is next, and is probably the strongest song on the album. It picks up the pace again, and features the familiar Bass'n'drum verse ala Stratovarius but the chorus is where the song truly shines. The melodies are simply sublime, and the harpsichord and orchestral accompaniments are just wonderful. Great job on this one, boys.

"Darkness Within" is fairly reminiscent of "At the End of the Rainbow" by Hammerfall, complete with it's chugging mid paced guitar and requisite "woah-oh-oh's". A bit derivative, but it works and by the mid point of the song the pace picks up considerably for some nice harmonized guitar riffage. Keys show up for a solo trade off section as well.

"A.E.I.O.U." is next, and features guest vocals from Georg Neuhauser of previously mentioned Serenity. Both this track and the next, the title track, are speedsters and lead into some of the more stylistic outliers of the album. After the bagpipes and steady battle march of "Golden Dawn" we are treated to the synth drenched pop-ish hooks of "Made of Metal". While Dragony are at their best when running at full speed, the song is catchy and the earworminess of it all will have you humming it to yourself throughout the day. And I bet you can't name the last time a song about an armor clad 19th century Emperor did that to you.

"Battle Royale" could be considered the epic of the album, although it's easily digestible length of just over 6 minutes makes it fly by. The last (official) track "Legends Never Die", however, is probably the weakest song on the album. The chorus doesn't particularly jive with me, and the keyboard melody sounds tacked on and out of place. Still, it's the only true stinker on the album.

There's a bonus track, "Haben Sie Wien Schon Bei Nacht Gesehn", of which I understand next to none of because it's entirely in German. It's a fun little throwaway romp.

Viritus Unitis is a very ridiculous, but super fun album that should very much be on your radar if you fancy this particular alloy of euro-power metal. Great melodies and triumphant song writing make it a feel good album, great for hoisting your beer and singing along with like-minded friends. Not only is it the best album i've heard featuring zombies and a pistol wielding Tesla, it's one of the better power metal albums I've listened to in a while. Dragony should be on all of our radars after this one.

1. On the Blue Danube
2. Gods of War
3. Love You to Death
4. Magic
5. Darkness Within
6. A.E.I.O.U.
7. Viribus Unitis
8. Golden Dawn
9. Made of Metal (Cyberpunk Joseph)
10. Battle Royale
11. Legends Never Die
12. Haben Sie Wien schon bei Nacht geseh'n

Added: January 26th 2021
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 980
Language: english

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