Jag Panzer – “The Deviant Chord” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Formed in the early 80s in Colorado Springs as a youthful band’s answer to the NWOBHM phenomenon sweeping the rock and metal world, Jag Panzer went on to release in what had become today a cult debut in “Ample Destruction” as well as bringing to light the vocal talents of one Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin, renowned for his piercing air raid siren vocals. Yet despite all these factors, the band would remain relegated to the underground, happy if not content in playing noncommercial music close to their heart while retaining a loyal following. Playing US power / heavy metal rooted in the 80s, the upsurge in the ‘true’ metal scene ironically from Europe has saved the band in recent years, reinvigorating the in the main original line up, resulting in this 10th album. Still propelled by the brilliant song writing and even more virtuosic guitar talents of Mark Briody, the big plus on this release is the return of original shredder Joey Tafolla, who was the guitarist on “Ample Destruction” as well as 1997’s ” The Fourth Judgement”. As such you can expect massive amounts of guitars in every aspect on the 10 tracks here – all true to the original heavy metal formula. Likewise, and in keeping to that style there’s plenty of diversity blending epic melody with power in reflecting the band’s own inspirations from Rainbow to Maiden and Briody’s personal love of Sabaton! While this may not appease the most die hard fans of the band, I personally enjoyed listening to the album, and concur that from some apparent 70 early songs, these final versions reflect those closest to the band’s hearts. From the galloping Maiden inspired ‘Salacious Behavior‘ to the beautiful twin spiraling guitars on ‘Divine Intervention‘, Jag Panzer show their measure along with more aggressive tracks like ‘Far Beyond All Fear’ with its double bass drumming that resonate their early power metal sound. Equally, in trying to show more variety, the band do a great job on the ballad ‘Long Awaited Kiss’ with subtle violins and an AOR sound although the outstanding drawn out guitar solos still keep this track very much in the hard rock vein, even with its uplifting factor. Even more remarkable is the cover of ‘Foggy Dew’, an Irish folk song about the 1916 Easter Rising, which is as charged with passion as with power as it morphs into a Maiden-esque power metal inspired style. Throughout all of this are the outstanding vocals of Harry Conklin, never faltering be it in soft tones or powered screams – not to mention everything in between – in adding charisma and life into the songs. As I said earlier, this album may not appeal to Jag Panzer purists but for anyone wanting to hear top notch US metal taken from the early 80s “The Deviant Chord” stacks up pretty highly in every aspect….