Originally founded in 2007 under the verbose name “Dragonslayer Project,” Austrian metallers Dragony shortened their title, tightened up their operation and released their debut album “Legends.” It promises the pitch-perfect escapism we’ve all come to expect from symphonic power metal, complete with the standard tankard-swinging anthems and finely tuned lore.
Parenthetically, I can't decide if I prefer to think of the band's name as a combination of words, i.e., a solution of "dragon" and "agony," or as an adjective. For example, "hey, how would you describe your music?" "Well, it's technical and light and sort of dragony." But that's neither here nor there.
Dragony’s effort, led by the melodic and well-tempered vocals of Siegfried "The Dragonslayer" Samer (their words, not mine,) is a lucid, articulate piece of power metal that takes the proper time to build necessary of often elements like pace, tone and feeling. Each composition feels like its own self-contained story, whether a massive undertaking such as the epic “The Longest Night,” or a shorter, tethered piece such as “The Ride.” This speaks volumes of the band’s attention to detail and craft, as the plot of their songs seems as integrally important to each piece as the actual music.
Musically, there are some highlights on the back half of “Legends.” “Hero’s Return” features that trademark gallop and soft double kick that have become so part-and-parcel with power metal over the years. It’s a nice touchstone that keeps an album which is trying to be different from floating too far into melodrama. Samer’s vocal punch doesn’t possess the necessary bite to give that gallop an edge, but to his credit, he doesn’t try to, either. Minute-to-minute acceleration doesn’t seem to be a priority for the band, and that’s really the takeaway from “Legends.” The band caters to that audience in moments, such as the charged scream that opens “Dragonslayer,” but those moments are not persistent or altogether frequent.
Dragony's only real failing on "Legends" is not pushing the envelope far enough. In a splinter genre marked by high technical aptitude paired with immense stage presence, Dragony does not display the crowd-silencing musicianship of benchmark acts like Dragonforce, nor the bombastic, masses-stirring attitude of Turisas. Failing these facets, it will be difficult for Dragony's effort to stand out from the fold. It is worth noting that Dragony has an association and subsequent guest appearance from Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear, who himself is a talented vocalist who also gets occasionally accused of not quite hitting the mark. (Though “Metal is Forever” is a sheer genius Primal Fear song.)
Dragony clearly possesses the technical prowess to do something different in the sometimes staid land of power metal. The second half of “Legends” has some wonderful moments that truly lay the music out in front of the fan and make you soak in the huge scope that the band is going for. The music itself strikes an excellent balance between the seemingly disparate worlds of expansion and accessibility. Creating an atmosphere isn’t a problem for Dragony; keeping that atmosphere compelling is where they could grow.
If this is your first foray into the soaring, colorful world of power metal, you can learn a lot, and could do much worse, than Dragony. "Legends" is a finely crafted and well-paced album that suffers only from not being more. On the other hand, if you've rocked every Edguy or Stratovarius album ever produced and have acclimated yourself to the tenets of this wide-eyed segment of the metal population, Dragony may not impress.