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Clean out your ears, guys. - 57%

Empyreal, April 25th, 2008

Jag Panzer were the best Metal band alive for about one year, but then they sort of puttered out into obscurity, resurfacing ten years later with the much-maligned Dissonant Alliance album, and then regaining their former singer Harry Conklin for a "reunion" of sorts, which eventually led to this album. Lots of people love it, but I don't see why.

I just can't get into newer Jag Panzer, despite my worship of bands that sound just like them, such as Tad Morose and Angel Dust. This is more proggy, restrained stuff than Ample Destruction, with a definite focus on melody instead of riffs. The melodies are pretty good, I'll give them that; the band is obviously not lacking at all in that department, but where they fail is the inclusion of actual ballsy, poser-slaughtering METAL into the mix. Say what you will about progression and whatnot, but Jag Panzer were known for being excessively Metal, in the old-school barbed wire, leather-and-chains, motorcycle riding Heavy Fucking Metal, and this new stuff is simply a disappointment. This sounds okay when I'm listening to it, but I don't retain anything at all after I stop listening. Nothing. Not one vocal line and not one riff. There are no hooks here! Since when did this band stop writing good hooks? Or hooks at all, for that matter? The production is very sterile and mushy, too, which further hinders the memorability of Mechanized Warfare. Seriously, guys. That flat, cardboard guitar tone has to go. Right now.

The other issue here is the vocals, which are painfully lackluster. Conklin is technically good here, but his weak, testosterone-starved voice rarely provides anything that will make you sit up and take notice. No good vocal lines to speak of, either. He's sort of blended in with the rest of the mix, too, not like in the 80s when his voice stood out of the production job like a fucking thunderbolt out of a clear sky. There are a few moments where he starts to wail like the old days, but mostly he remains unimpressive, a pale shadow of a once-great singer. Just listen to the chorus of opener "Take to the Sky," and hear that piss-weak vocal melody alongside the neutered vocals themselves. Compare it to that of "Generally Hostile," which has enough energy to topple a pyramid. Fuck. I know, right?

This is an "evolution" of the old Jag Panzer sound, yes, but fuck, I would've embraced a sequel to Ample Destruction with open arms. I'm not saying the band should keep putting out the same album over and over again, as I would also love a progression of the style that actually managed to stay interesting for longer than 30 seconds at a time. Anything but this watered down bore-fest. You know what I hate most about this album? The fact that I heard it so long after I was introduced to this band's fantastic debut album. I hailed Jag Panzer as one of the best Metal bands alive, but that was before I heard this one. It was an experience similar to that of being a pre-teen and worshipping some dime-a-dozen celebrity with a pretty face and big tits, and then finding out years later that she's degenerated into a coked up whore.

Get this album if you've never heard Ample Destruction; you might like it better than I did. But even then, it is frighteningly mediocre.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com