Jag Panzer - Tyrants (Mausoleum) 1983
1. "Battle Zone"
Jag Panzer's first official release following a couple of demo releases. "Tyrants" is prime classic 1980's heavy metal. Galloping rhythms, smokin' leads, and screaming vocals. "Battle Zone" kicks things off on a fast pace and is probably one of my favorite songs on the disc. It would be cool if they re-recorded this song because the only thing holding it back from being on the same par with songs like "Fast As A Shark" and "Queen of the Ryche" is the weak recording. "Death Row" keeps up the pace with yet another fast and furious metal monster. "Metal Melts the Ice" is a bit less frantic, but none the less punishing. This track has more of a Judas Priest sound going on. "Iron Shadows" is a galloping, Maiden-inspired song. The EP finishes off with "Tower of Darkness," which is probably the weakest track on the disc. "Tyrants" is the humble beginnings of a mighty metal band. The CD version of this EP was released in 1992, but the songs were recorded in '83.
Hailed by many as Jag Panzer's finest moment. I have even read where some reviews rank this album up with Maiden's "Number of the Beast" and other classic heavy metal platters. This disc is heavily influenced by the NWOBHM scene (Diamond Head, Blitzkrieg, Judas Priest), however, Jag Panzer are American heavy metal. The songs are all standard for the time, but most are quite memorable. The best tracks in my opinion are "Warfare", with it's powerful chorus, "Harder Than Steel" with it's killer riff and "The Crucifix", a song that was re-recorded from their original Tyrant demo ('81), before the band had changed their name to Jag Panzer. This song starts off slow and builds, getting heavier and heavier until it explodes into shards of shrapnel. "Harder than Steel," "License To Kill", and "Symphony Of Terror" are also standout cuts. The entire album proves that Jag Panzer deserved to be much bigger than they ever were. The guitars are heavy and biting, not unlike early Savatage and the vocals are pure heavy metal attitude; a nice mixture of singing and falsetto screaming. There are even hints of speed metal and thrash here and there. "Ample Destruction" is a classic heavy metal platter that I am glad to finally have in my collection. The Metalcore version that I own is quite rare. Last copy I saw on eBay had a buy it now price of $55. I am curious, if anyone knows, where the bonus tracks are taken from? I assume from a demo, but which one?
Jag Panzer - Dissident Alliance (Pavement) 1994
Dissident Alliance takes a pretty thrashy direction, sounding nothing very litle like Ample Destruction. Unfortunately this generated a backlash by fans. Also, since this is the first and only Jag Panzer album to not feature Harry Conklin on vocals, it makes this CD seem even further removed from Jag Panzer's galloping past. New vocalist Daniel J. Conca has a gritty, thrash voice that reminds me of James Hetfield at times, although a clone he is not. Personally I like this disc. There are some good, crunchy riffs, some memorable songs and the vocals seem to fit the mood and vibe of the music. Most of the material presented here is pretty heavy, pushing the boundries of thrash and speed metal (ie. "Edge of Blindness), but overall stay within standard heavy metal walls. Two ballads are found here as well, "Forsaken Child" and "Spirit Suicide". Conca does some clean, melodic vocal singing for these two songs and displays a bit of diversity. Personally I prefer the heavier stuff, but these two songs aren't bad or distracting either.
I am told this CD is one of the hard Jag Panzer discs to track down. I was able to finally secure this copy in a trade with an Australian trader. Funny thing is, a couple days after receiving this in the mail I see a copy for only $7.99 at a local CD shop. Isn't that how it usually works?
Jag Panzer-The Fourth Judgment (Century Media) 1997
I had heard so many great things about this band, that I had to check them out. Jag Panzer are power metal in the tradition of Judas Priest and early Fates Warning. The music is heavy and very well crafted. The production is outstanding and was recorded and mixed by Jim Morris (Death/Iced Earth). For some reason, however, this one just didn't hit me over the head and grab my attention like I thought it would.
Jag Panzer - The Age Of Mastery (Century Media) 1998
1. "Iron Eagle"
Whoooa! Talk about a radical difference from one disc to the next. To be honest, "The Fourth Judgment" never impressed me. It wasn't until I discovered "Mechanized Warfare" in 2001 that my interest in Jag Panzer was rekindled. While that release is a bit more layered and a tad more experimental, this album is just pure heavy metal. "The Age of Mastery" just grabs you by the metallic throat and just goes for the jugular! Within the first three tracks I was already banging my head along to the beat. Within two listens I was already singing along to the choruses of "Lustful and Free" and "Twilight Years". I mean, this is just some serious heavy metal. Conklin's vocals are quite inspired, soulful, passionate, aggressive and clean. Of course what would a heavy metal platter be without some shredding guitar solos, crunchy guitars, and thumpin' bass. "The Age of Mastery" has it all. Of course the production is top notch, being recorded at the infamous metal factor Morrisound Studios.
Jag Panzer - Thane To The Throne (Century Media) 2000
Jag Panzer-Mechanized Warfare (Century Media) 2001
1. "Take to the Sky"
Growth by leaps and bounds here. I haven't really followed or heard anything by this band since 'The Fourth Judgment.' This band has progressed so far it's beyond description. The style remains the same, staying within the boundaries of power metal and still calling to mind Iron Maiden, yet there is so much more to the band than I heard in 'Fourth Judgement.' The rich, layered vocal melodies are woven in along with the complex, chugging guitar rhythms and some odd keyboard and string interludes. Guess I will have to seriously look into some of their back catalogue.
Jag Panzer - Decade Of The Nail Spiked Bat (Cenury Media) 2002
Excellent two CD set with Jag Panzer playing tribute to their roots and re-recording 20 of their own classic tracks with the current Jag Panzer line-up, as well as a few previously unreleased songs. Most of the early Jag Panzer catalogue is out of print and difficult to find, so this is a nice overview of those early years of metal! The nice thing, however, is that the production is far superior. The booklet featuring photos and liner notes by Mark Briody, who comments on each track! Very nice.
Jag Panzer - Chain of Command (Century Media) 1987/2004
of Command" (5:30)
The album was recorded in 1987 and never released, yet bootlegged since 1988. Although I have never heard the bootlegs, I have read that they were created from second and third generation cassette tapes. In other words, the bootlegs were crap. Well thanks to Century Media for officially releasing "Chain of Command" on June 21st, 2004 for the first time, with "new" cover art and a killer remastering job. Of course, that doesn't mean the production is perfect. After all this was recorded in 1988 on a shoestring budget. Despite the thin production, the song writing is interesting enough to completely ignore this. It also feature vocalist Bob Parbuda, who has a smooth power metal voice. "Chain of Command" is a bit more melodic than the heavy metal staple "Ample Destruction". However, there is still plenty of galloping heavy metal here. "Chain of Command" and "Shadow Thief" are both heavy tracks with memorable choruses. "Shadow Thief" showed up again on the band's 1997 album "The Fourth Judgement", but I prefer this version. The guitar solo in this song is very cool. Likewie, "Chain of Command" reappeared on the 198 album "The Age Of Mastery". Can't really say which version of this song I like better. "She Waits" is a dynamic track with a melodic chorus. This song has an early Fates Warning and Queensryche feel, complete with high, soaring vocals. The cover of "In A Gadda Da Vida" is fun and unexpected. "Never Surrender" is a doomier track that has a feel like Cirith Ungol, only with a power metal vocalist. "Dream Theme" is an interesting instrumental that interchanges sweeping acoustic parts with heavier, electric parts. This song reminds me a bit of early Fates Warning as well. It's really a shame this album wasn't released 15 years ago. I wonder what sort of an impact it might have made, as opposed to now when power metal bands are a dime a dozen.