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2004 was a stellar year for power metal and metal music in general, seeing quality releases too numerous to mention as metal moves to regain its position atop the musical pyramid. Jag Panzer have for a long while been one of the predominant forces in power metal, releasing such crucial records as “The Age Of Mastery” with widespread acceptance throughout the metal community.
In “Casting The Stones” the band has accomplished a feat which tops even that classic record, combining the forcefulness of power metal with the harmony of bands such as Queensryche in order to deliver a giant of an album. Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin’s voice is in fine form, filled with passion and a strong delivery on tracks such as the foreboding, mid-paced “Vigilant” and the captivating epic “The Mission”. His voice is extremely impacting on “Achilles” as he delivers vocalizations with a fantastic range and forceful melody. His attack is sound and he uses masterful techniques such as vibrato which are ballsy, yet not overbearing.
Guitarists Mark Briody and Chris Broderick provide light and shade, complimenting each others styles very well as Broderick rips through some blazing solo pieces. Overall “Vigilant” shines as one of the record’s best tracks, its ringing bells and phased vocal effects adding to the sound of the band a uniqueness that is vibrant and exciting. Former vocalist Bob Parduba chips in some great supporting vocals on “The Mission” and “Starlights Fury” that make the band sound even fuller, giving these tracks an expanded dimension. Conklin simply wails over shredding rhythms in “Tempest”, a track that hits the listener hard with its relentless, thrashing riffing.
On “Battered And Bruised”, you’ll find the band taking on a traditional, NWOBHM take on progressive metal that will have your head banging right along with the group’s thumping attack. This track contains a mellow break before entering a crunching bridge that introduces Broderick’s shredding fury. The mid paced, rocking “Cold” is well named; its spine tingling refrain is at once massive and filled with melody. With the Metallica influenced power of “The Harkening” you’ll discover further solid six string performance and perhaps the best riff of the record during the song’s verse. The vocal harmonies here are without exception and the band is truly hitting on all cylinders here.
With “Casting The Stones”, Jag Panzer prove exactly why they remain on top of the power metal world. Surely, fans will delight in this captivating display of absolute force from one of the most talented bands in all of power metal today.