This coming Friday power metal act Dragony will be releasing their latest album, Viribus Unitis via Napalm Records. Which is now up for pre-orders. The album is a concept record that takes the historical figures Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife empress Sisi, and a few others and adds a new alternate twist. I spoke with Herbert Glos to learn a little bit more about the album, and what listeners can expect
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. How are you and the guys doing?
Thanks for the opportunity. Well, under the circumstances, quite good, I’d say. The hard lockdown in Austria has been lifted on Monday. Now we’re back to a soft lockdown, and I think it’s going to go through the whole of the winter.
It seems like many countries are doing the opposite and going back into more strict lockdown as of late. So things are improving there?
Yeah. We have to keep the hospitals as free as possible for not only the Corona patients but the regular hospital patients as well. And it seems like that this winter, a lot of countries have to alternate between hard lockdowns and soft lockdowns. So the health system doesn’t collapse.
Yeah, things are starting to worsen here in the states, with hospitals filling up their ICU beds at maximum capacity.
We get news from the States here in Europe, and it’s from what we’ve read, it seems like a little bit of a mess over there.
Indeed, it is; hopefully, a vaccine will be distributed soon; we will see things start to improve. But in much brighter news, I want to congratulate you on joining Napalm, which seems to be quite fitting as it’s Austrian-based as well. How does it feel to be part of the Naplam family?
It feels great. It feels a little bit like coming home or coming to a home you’ve never been to. And it’s amazing to work with the Napalm guys. There’s so much going on with the release of this record. I talked to Siegfried, our singer, today or yesterday and, we’ve been doing so much promo work and so many interviews; for this record alone, we’ve already done more promo work than for all the past records combined.
The Napalm family is amazing. The whole team is really supportive, and even as a rather small act like how Dragony is, you get the feeling that they believe in you, believing in your product. They want to help you get it out.
The new album offers a different take on history and has a truly distinctive narrative and songwriting style. What was the spark that drove the concept of this to its fruition?
We wanted to go back to the concept record again. The first record of Dragony was a concept album of a fantasy story with magic swords and wizards and armies and kingdoms. And then we did two records with separate tracks, which each had their own topic. Nerdy stuff as well, or literature stuff.
For this record, we wanted to go back to a whole concept story. And the initial spark came from our singer, Siegfried. One day, he showed up with this crazy idea and presented it to us. We read through it and said, yeah, let’s do this.
The album certainly seems like it’s going to be an evolution for the band, but as you mentioned, it’s returning to your roots with the concept of the first release, “Legends.” So you guys decided from the start that you were going to go back to this sort of conceptual idea of your debut album?
Yeah. We wanted to make a concept record again. This time we had the basics of the story fleshed out, and at the same time, we had the first songs written or the first parts. So it evolved at the same time as the story. It was tailor-made for this record.
“Gods of War” is the first single with a stunning music video, and it’s a really distinctive track, and the arrangements are just incredibly complex yet powerful and immediate. It seems like it’s a fitting intro to what the album is going to be. Is that the reason why you chose it as your lead single?
Yes. We chose it because it’s a very powerful track and a fast-forward one. It’s also the opener of the album, and it sets the stage for the whole story and sets the stage for the record. So it wasn’t an obvious choice for us to make this song the first.
The sound was described as being “very Scandinavian.” What do you think defines the hallmark of a Scandinavian sound?
Scandinavian sound is a clear sound, but at the same time, warm really is what we were aiming for. And I think we achieved this with Viribus Unitis. We wanted to have this wall of sound that rolls over you, but you can still hear all the details.For some of the songwriting process, and I know Tommy of Sabaton and Majestica joined you. And if anyone knows power metal and writing music from a historic historical perspective, it’s certainly him. What was it like working with him and other guests? And what exactly was the songwriting process like in general? I imagine it had to be quite fun coming up with all these crazy concepts.
Tommy is a co-writer of the first track, “Gods of War” The rest come from Dragony, and we work together with some ideas in the studio with our producer. For the songwriting process in Dragony, our singer Siegfried is the main songwriter.
And whoever has any ideas they can present to us presented to the guys, and then we decide if we can make something for Dragony out of this or not. And these ideas can come in many different forms. Sometimes it’s already a finished demo track in pro tools. Sometimes it’s just a keyboard melody for the main hook. If we decide to continue working on this idea, we get together and sit down with our producer and try to make a full s song out of this.
With Viribus Unitis, it was a little bit different because the songs, of course, have to stick to the story. The parts of the story and what happens in the story influenced the songs a little bit too—so kind of like a little bit of a musical style.
With someone who sat on the Imperial throne for nearly 68 years, how much of everything relating to some of these characters like Emperor Franz Joseph is historically accurate? And was there a lot of research involved in incorporating some truths into the story you were trying to tell?
There was research involved. All of these characters lived at the same time. Like Houdini, for example, in his later years in real life, it was after the first world war, but in his later years, before he died, he actually started to study the occult.
For Emperor Franz Joseph and the Empress. Well, the Empress did not come back as an undead queen of the damned. (laughing) The real emperor has not been revived in a cyberpunk mecha suit. But in our story, they lived their lives as it was in history, in actual history, right up until the point where the crown Prince committed suicide. In our story, he failed to do that and instead fell into a depression and started to dwell in dark magic. And as we are a fantasy band, in our stories, magic is real, and so all this bad stuff starts to happen.
I think it’s fascinating how you little snippets of truth and have essentially created what is entirely a new world. Of course, you’ve got inspiration from these historical figures, but did it also come from other mediums too on the fantasy side of things? Such as movies, comics, games, etc.?
Yeah, I wouldn’t say it was a specific inspiration. It was not like there’s this one movie we want to do something like that.
Just general then, right?
Just in general. We are fond of stories like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, something in the style of Quentin Tarantino.
Such as Inglorious Bastard?
Exactly. We take real historical figures, the real historical setting. We are generally fond of this type of media, such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
One of the tracks, which is about raising the dead, I think raising the Golden Dawn, seems to sort of have like that classic Dragony power, metal sound with almost a touch of folk metal at the beginning with the pipes. Can you, can you tell us a little bit more about this song?
We chose this track as the second single because it’s like you said, it has the typical Dragony sounds to it, and it’s something different from the first single, and with these two tracks combined, that’s what we think is a somewhat good overview over the record.
We can go from the past with straight forward power, metal tracks to our typical Dragony trademark sound. The song, which is about the queen of the Damed, is about a very important part of the story. So that’s why we chose this track.
There seems to be a lot of content art and fiction inspired by World War II and not so much World War I, which is where a lot of this takes place, and I think happens to be from a fascinating era. It is also one of the pivotal turning points that defines what the world is today. Do you think this time in history and some of these figures are often overlooked?
You get the feeling that this is the case, especially because the second world war overshadows everything. But the first world war is also a very important point in history in general, especially for the Western world.
And for us, it was an easy choice because, in the first world war, we had these iconic characters from Austria, like Empress Elizabeth, the emperor Franz Joseph, and we Austrians are still living a little bit in the past. Not really, of course, but a little bit. And we are still looking forward to the past with Imperial times. All in all, Austria has been just one of many great empires that rose and fell like the Romans, like France, like the British empire. But ours is one of the most recent ones.
The storytelling has been fantastic. And I know you’ve been doing like these history videos about the albums and the songs. Are you planning on releasing any follow-up visuals or any other cinematic compliments to add more to the album’s narrative?
We have a few more history lessons planned, but for a bigger overachieving goal, I got to ask from a friend of mine that the record would be great to make a movie out of it with the music. But I’m afraid that we don’t have the budget.
That would be pretty amazing, though.
Yeah. There’s another single coming up closer to the record release, and we were going to continue with the history lessons until the record is released. But apart from that, there’s, of course, our interaction on social media, but that’s all we can do right now.
We don’t say no to future plans; we are not saying that after the record is released, everything stops for it. Of course not, but nothing is set in stone right now.
Something that caught my eye this morning reminded me that you guys had done a lot of fun covers in the past, and this morning, David Hasselhoff released one of his singles off his upcoming metal album. And you guys have covered one of his tracks, and I was just curious if the Hoff were ever to do a cover of a Dragony song from this album or any album for that matter, which one would you choose? Because that would be pretty amazing, and things could go full circle.
(Laughing) That would be awesome. I mean the Hoff is very big in Germany and Austria, and I know he’s a controversial figure in the U.S., but here, he’s a pop star. And yet he has huge shows in Germany and Austria. Of course, we did a cover of his True Survivor song, and the metal song from David Hasselhoff was actually done with two guys from Vienna. So it somewhat went almost half a circle, I would say.
A nice 180.
Yeah. It would be amazing to work with the Hoff one day, but I don’t think you can reach a person like David Hasselhoff.
Especially with his fame in Austria and Germany. With concerts and live shows being a rather difficult undertaking in 2020, and it looks like that’s going to follow into 2021 as well for some time. Do you have any other type of plans to promote the record, maybe with live streams or anything like that?
We’re planning to do a live stream in February. And we want to do an album release show close to the release of the record, but we can’t say that is going to happen or not because right onto a week before or the day before, there may be new restrictions in place or not. And even if we do it, it’s going to be like, in a venue for 400, 500 people, and there’s going to be a hundred people there. And, of course, we’re going to follow all the safety restrictions. We wanted to play shows, but right now it’s like you said, it’s somewhat impossible. We have a stream plan in February, but it’s uh, yeah, we’re still in talks about that.
Hopefully, it all pans out. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans and the readers?
Thanks for checking out Dragony, and I hope you check out the new record.