Jag Panzer

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The Fourth Judgement

Jag Panzer - The Fourth Judgement ©1997 Century Media
1. Black
2. Call Of The Wild
3. Despair
4. Future Shock
5. Recompense
6. Ready To Strike
7. Tyranny
8. Shadow Thief
9. Sonet Of Sorrow
10. Judgement Day

Hailing from my home state of Colorado (y'know...that seething hotbed of progressive metal), the reunited Jag Panzer have resurfaced in the late '90s sporting an album that seems as if the past decade has never happened. J.P. has obviously paid no heed to any trends as this entire album is chock full of progressive power metal that harkens a time that once was. And while they have the technical chops and a crushing production that captures the best performances of all the musicians, I honestly could not lose myself in their music. Frankly, if this album had come out during the heyday of this form of metal, I still probably wouldn't have gotten into it. Singer Harry Conklin has one of those classic 80's metal voices that I just can't stomach anymore. But don't get me wrong. There are a few great moments on this record. I especially liked the melancholic atmospherics and strong songwriting of "Sonet of Sorrow" and "Judgement Day". And I'm also quite aware these are some very talented musicians who understand a strong riff. Europe eats these guys up like the second coming of Judas Priest. However, when it comes to what I choose to listen to, this CD won't be on the list.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1998

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Thane To The Throne

Jag Panzer - Thane To The Throne ©2000 Century Media
1. Thane Of Cawdor
2. King At A Price
3. Bloody Crime
4. The Premonitions
5. Treachery's Stain
6. Spectres Of The Past
7. Banquo's Final Rest
8. Three Voices Of Fate
9. Hell To Pay
10. The Prophecies (Fugue In D Minor)
11. Insanity's Mind
12. Requiem For Lady MacBeth
13. Face Of Fear
14. Fall Of Dunsinane
15. Fate's Triumph
16. The Downward Fall
17. Tragedy Of MacBeth

When Jag Panzer released Age of Mastery, they hinted at new leanings for the band. The Ample Destruction era cliches were all but gone. The band seemed to have gone through a "Hey, we really can write songs!" period of awakening. Thane To The Throne is the result of this coming of age movement for the band.

This CD is based on the story of MacBeth. The songs are written to convey the arrogance, the plotting, the treachery, the guilt and the downfalls that take place in the story. A concept of this magnitude is really something of a challenge for a band that was formerly of the ilk of "We're big and bad and play guitar," schlock metal. Jag Panzer really rise to the challenge and pull off a great disc here. With heavy, crunching riffs, classical string quartets, interludes of classical guitar and some true vocal acrobatics, the band manages to tell a very old story in a new and delightful way. I think some high school students may be tempted to skip their reading assignments and listen to this disc by way of doing their homework. Harry Conklin's vocals cover several different roles on the disc. MacBeth's arrogance, MacDuff's anger and the other singing roles he takes on are all brought off very convincingly. He uses the full range of his voice from raspy snarls to high pitched operatic vocals typical of progressive metal. The music is very involved and intricate. There are time changes, mood changes and sudden twists that will jeep the listener involved in the story. A large part of the success of this disc is that the music does not get in the way of the story. Rather than run ahead of things, the music keeps pace and helps to convey the emotion of the songs. The brief interludes are neatly tied into the disc, and I preferred them to the little narrative bits and pieces on Nightfall In Middle Earth from Blind Guardian. Outstanding tracks include "Thane of Cawdor", "Insanity's Mind" and "Tragedy of MacBeth". This disc is a dramatic departure from the usual vein of Jag Panzer's musical styles. Thane To The Throne really delivers the goods that Age Of Mastery foreshadowed. This is a tight, mature concept disc that never loses sight of the story it is telling. A compelling performance that soundly declares that Jag Panzer is not dead.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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Mechanized Warfare

Jag Panzer - Mechanized Warfare ©2001 Century Media
1. Take To The Sky
2. Frozen In Fear
3. Unworthy
4. The Silent
5. The Scarlet Letter
6. Choir Of Tears
7. Cold Is The Blade (and The Heart That Wields It)
8. Hidden In My Eyes
9. Power Surge
10. All Things Renewed

Jag Panzer has proven to be a band that is continually evolving and refining themselves. Last year's Thane to the Throne was one of those discs that surprised the heck out of me. Jag Panzer has always been trying to mix power metal with some prog elements and here they cranked out this concept masterpiece. Mechanized Warfare continues down this path of "exploratory" metal. It is a testimony to Jag Panzer's staying power as a band that they are able to adapt and change. The sound they "discovered" on Thane to the Throne is honed on this album.

The epic feel of the music is still evident. The sound has matured some and the over-the-top feel to the songs has been toned down to where it fits the music. The power of these songs has been turned up to where we have the oomph of early Jag Panzer presented from the perspective of many years of experience. Finding albums like this is truly a delight. It is a wonderful thing to see a band come into its own. These songs fit together nicely and Harry Conklin's vocals have never sounded better. With some fifteen years of history, this band has come a long way to find a sound that works in a very big way for them.

The songs are very heavy with guitar playing reminiscent of Ample Destruction. The guitars are worked into the music so that they are not the only point of focus in the songs. The rich vocal melodies are woven in along with the rhythm and the odd keyboard or string interlude here or there. The thing that most catches my ear are the intricate vocal melodies. Some of the harmonies in the singing are amazing. The content and emphasis on the song writing is obvious from the start. These songs are complex and very tightly produced. The guitar pyrotechnics fit into the music and often serve as segues from one melody to another giving the music a rich and seamless flow. It is a rare treat to hear power metal of this caliber. This CD contains some of the best guitar melodies I have ever heard. Fans of power metal need to pick this disc up. It may be along time before any other band hits this level of mature song writing ability.

If you've been longing for the Jag Panzer of old, rejoice for your day has come. If you really enjoyed Thane to the Throne, rejoice because that Jag Panzer still lives. This disc is the perfect melding of old and new into a sound that is sure to satisfy fans old and new.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

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