Pänzer – “Fatal Command” (Nuclear Blast)
Ever wonder what fearsome beast of a band would be produced if you crossed German thrash gods Destruction with Accept?! Well, super group Pänzer is surely the answer!!! Made up of legendary bassist Schmier and equally renowned Accept men Stefan Schwarzmann and Herman Frank, their 2014 blitzkrieg came in the form of the aptly titled “Send Them All To Hell”, crushing all asunder and in its terrible wake, Pänzer return for their next foray – and with a new line up! Gone is Frank to concentrate on his solo work, und so Schmier & Schwarzmann have recruited not one, but two guitarists to step into his mighty shoes – V.O. Pulver (Gurd, Poltergeist) and none other than Hammerfall’s axeman, Pontus Norgren. As such, with a Swiss and Swedish dude now in the line-up, a subtle name change was also in order – from The German Pänzer to just Pänzer! However, if that ground shaking debut was steadfastly rooted in German thrash, this sophomore has its own (and some might say greater) mission: to bring back the glory of true heavy metal both in the form of its power along with epic melodies. In this regard, “Fatal Command” excels through its new line up. With that hammering double bass rhythm still there from the initial release, V.O. Pulver injects plenty of aggression and heaviness allowing Norgren the freedom of the field to indulge (to excess) with soaring solos and machine gunning melodies both subtle and overt across the 11 tracks here. Still, don’t be expecting any ballads as Schmier’s raw thrash voice – and some dark Udo-esque drawls here n there – makes that pretty clear ha ha! From continuing Accept’s headbanging trend on the ‘The Decline (And The Downfall)’ to the Priest twin riff chugging richness of ‘I’ll Bring You The Night’ it’s pretty clear the guys are paying homage to the bands they grew up with while adding their own panache like on the fast rocking ‘Bleeding Allies’ with Schwarzmann’s smashing drums brilliantly contrasted by Norgren’s beautiful virtuosic soloing! Bringing it all together superbly on the holy heavy metal of ‘Promised Land’ expect razor riffing, piston double bass drumming and wild lead breaks while Schmier cynically leads his anti religious tirade through an epic wailing wall singalong chorus in closing another triumph for this modern heavy metal war machine!