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I'm sort of reviewing this in anticipation of Jag Panzer's new album. I haven't written hardly any reviews in the last few years, why? Because I honestly haven't been listening to much metal in the last few years. But this band is one of the few bands that still tickle my jaded fancy. Why? This band defines what metal is, and should be; among all the derivitive garbage that's been so trendy in recent years, with a whole mess of idiots that don't get it, this band is one of the unsung heros of trend-defying real metal. Well written, great lyrics, soaring vocals, killer riffs and solos. No bullshit. No gimmicks. True metal. Real music.
And this is one of their best albums.
Right from the get-go this album's production is modern and punchy without being over-sterile. The drums are hard hitting, and the guitar tone is pure. I mean, spot-on. Every note of every solo and lead is monsterous yet clear. Oh and Chris Broderick plays those solos. Chris Broderick is one of the fastest, tightest, most technically sound metal guitarists on planet Earth. To be sure, adding his new school and decidedly showy playing and flavor to the existing Jag Panzer made a real difference. In general the feel of this album certainly still bears the flame of tradition, but I think it's Broderick that gives this a 21st century tinge. With downtuned guitar, bold tone, and particularly less "trad" stuff like the opening riff of Tempest.
Harry Conklin has to rank among my favorite vocalists. His voice is powerful. This dude could demolish brick walls with his banshee wail. The tunes are just as catchy as on Ample Destruction, I'd go so far to say there isn't a tune without a hook in it. As catchy as this style of metal can get. And let's not forget, relevent lyrics. History, personal struggle, the human condition, the folly of mankind. Intelligent, well composed, and the message is well conveyed. Frankly, lyrics are one of metal's over all weak points. There's only so much you can say about the general phenomenon of death and wanton destruction. So Jag Panzer earns extra points there as well.
There's not too much you can complain about, you get the gallop beat, headbanging of tracks like The Mission, the old school power metal of Achilles, the new school guitar wizardry of Starlight's Fury and Tempest, and with the most of the other tracks, the best of all worlds, like Feast or Famine.
There's a real cohesiveness to the album in that the music really suits the lyrics. There seems to be something that just binds the whole album together and makes it feel like a single entity, rather than just a bunch of songs written and recorded together.
In conclusion: few and far is the time when I deem something underrated, but this band and; album in particular, are. Not to be missed. Essential. Don't pass this band or album up.