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I title my review this way for the simple reason that to me, this seems like not just a follow up to their standard setting album Mechanized Warfare, but an extension of it. If you put the two discs together and released them, they'd flow perfectly. Harry Conklin's so very unique power metal vocals and the great guitar duo of Chris Broderick and Eric Briody. There is a tradeoff here though... The solos are more melodic and fitting, but the songs are a bit more generic sounding. But they really balance themselves out well. There's alot more chorus singing on this album too, which is really cool.
The album starts with Feast or Famine, which has this great guitar harmony intro over a great slow riff, almost like Iced Earth. Then it fades out, the drums kick in, and faster thrashy riff comes in. And the solo in this song is short, sweet, melodic, and to the point. Also some great chorus singing is on this track.
Then comes The Mission (1943). This is an upbeat track that features some guitar gallops with a melodic lead part over it. The solo on this song is long and features some different chops than usual. And there's really good fills throughout that fit well in the gaps of the vocals. In fact, some of them overlap, which is really cool since you can hear both clearly simultaneously.
Vigilant is next, and it starts out with drums and then this awesome pick scrape slide in, and then a really heavy riff that sounds like sped up doom metal with some pinch harmonics thrown in. Then a main riff consisting of two galloped triplets and a complex set of notes after that comes in under the vocals, which is cool. You hardly ever hear a super-complex rhythm under vocals. The other cool aspect of this song is some weird vocal effect is used for saying "Vigilant". It's creepy sounding, and ice-cold. Mid-song it turns into a piano and keyboard slowdown that is also really catchy, with a great slow and melodic solo over it. All the shredding is just small phrases, and it flows well.
Achilles is after that, and features a great guitar intro. It really has a power metal feel to it, and the lyrics are great. This song is about the warrior Achilles, obviously, and does a great justice to the story of his life. "For the shores of Troy they set sail". Just like with their whole album Thane to the Throne, they manage to write lyrics that tell a story and that fit the music so well. Great keyboard lines in this song. There is a very short outro solo on this song that comes in under a great "AHHHH" vocal line that sounds awesome.
Tempest is next, and while not my favorite track, it does have a very thrashy feel it more than power metal. But about a minute in the riff changes to Candlemass or Cathedral style doom metal, and it just makes you want to headbang. Then at about two minutes, there's an accoustic breakdown. And then comes a kickass solo. So really, not too bad of a track.
After that is Legion Immortal which is very heavy and has a cool intro solo. Not much to say about this song, it's got a nifty highly melodic and slow solo and some cool chorus singing. I like the power chord progression they use under part of the vocals mixed with a very chuggy riff.
Then comes the best song off the album: Battered and Bruised. This reminds me alot of Power Surge off of Mechanized Warfare (not just because I like both of them the best, either). Mainly because of its insanely thrashy complex riff, chorus singing, and power metal vocals. "We have become... Battered and Bruised" *cue guitar solo* There's this awesome tempo change for the guitar solo, and these vocals that come in about halfway into it, and then the solo tears off again. Makes you want to headbang and slay a dragon all at the same time. Very shreddy solo, too. Definitely fitting for this fast paced (and violent themed) track.
Cold comes next, and it has this weird effect on the guitar that sounds really cool. They don't overuse it either, just for the first 15 seconds of the song or so. Decently slow paced with some great evil 4/4 drumming. I like how the vocals are layered with a regular singing layer and with it a screaming singing layer. Really cool, as is the outro solo.
Starlights Fury is next, and it features mad double bass kicking in over a highly complex guitar riff. These guys could play almost any type of music, their chops are so great. The vocal riff is very chuggy and thrashy. Great solo too. Melodic and shreddy as usual, but still in good taste. Good use of vibrato and bends here with flourishes of Yngwie it would seem. The random stop about two thirds through the song is unexpect and cool, as well.
Then comes The Harkening which is this heavy riff with a guitar tapping intro with it. Reminds me alot of Iron Maiden - Paschendale. The main riff is like sped up doom metal. The bass drum does some crazy gallops with the guitars that is really cool. The guitar solo here is highly original, since it is a harmonized solo that is not fast at all. But the two solos vary slightly, and it makes it really cool (like one will do a slow bend, and the other will play an ascending triplet)!
Finally is Precipice, which is vocals over an accoustic like background noise. Then come the drums and the doomy riff over them. Great harmonized guitar riff mid-song, too. Then it slows down again towards the end, and Harry Conklin does some great soft singing right before this guitar solo completely comes in out of nowhere and does straight up shredding that would make any person who plays guitar and isn't Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, or Jeff Loomis want to cry. Then this doom riff comes in, and the vocals come in with great lyrics: "The darkness has come!" Nice and evil for an outro that has alot of unexpected changes. A nice fade-out at the end too.
I really recommend this album to anybody who wants to get into Jag Panzer and already knows they like Mechanized Warfare (if you're going to get an album, get that one and then this one... just for continuity's sake). This album is just a touch more melodic than their last one, and the vocals are alot more chorusey. But the riffs are still as thrashy and complex, and the lyrics and vocals just as power metal as before. So if you want some true metal, do yourself a favor and pick this album up if you find it. Battered and Bruised alone makes this album worth it!