Jag Panzer - The Deviant Chord

Jag Panzer The Deviant Chord cover
Jag Panzer
The Deviant Chord
Jag Panzer is one of my favorite bands even when it comes to heavy metal; a band that always featured incredible vocal and guitar talent. As one who really enjoyed “The Scourge of the Light”, I was really anxious to see what the Americans would bring to the table some six years after that album and some tumultuous times, where singer Harry Conklin could not decide if he was in or out of the band…
Everything that you know about the band is pretty much “intact” and Joey Tafolla’s return to the fold, a few years ago, signaled the “reformation” of the classic early line up, which only added more to the band’s incredible guitar prowess.
What did worry me a bit was that “certain tracks” which were released as singles didn’t seem to work that much in that capacity on their lonesome, just as well as some did in the past, probably because of them being a little more melodic that before and more homogenous than in past efforts; however the same tracks seem to work fine sequenced in the album.
The album begins with the melodious but also spirited “Born of the Flame”, which recalls “Age of Mastery” stylistically and features a pretty awesome solo.
“Far Beyond All Fear”, with its more percussive style fits well sequenced placed just after it, with the Tyrant continuing his performance in a way that’s reminiscent of the “early” reunion albums.
“The Deviant Chord” begins with some violin and soft vocals by Conklin, only to steadily build into an epic lyrical number, with a haunting atmosphere and another ridiculously cool solo.
“Blacklist” again dwells in the mid-tempo, driven by a strong couple of riffs, recalling really “early” songs in terms of atmosphere and is spawn with neat solos.
“Foggy Dew” is a traditional Irish “rebel” song that Panzer makes light work of metallizing and it sounds just epic…
“Divine Intervention” is the first song that I felt didn’t quite hook me immediately, despite not having an obvious flaw, just being too similar as others, but it’s not all that bad after a couple of spins and its quirky solos sprawled all over it, do a fine job of keeping it interesting enough.
“Long Awaited Kiss” offers a long awaited “release” with its extended violin and voice intro; it also develops into a louder tune, but does so without going full on metal, but rather in a more organic way, with rather clean guitars and a solo that just makes the song take flight. Beautiful and much needed “stopgap” for pacing the album properly.
“Salacious Behavior” begins with a barrage of drums and in pretty Maidenesque fashion, before the polyphonies that sometimes Conklin uses, fully give it away as a JP song and not a bad one at that, but with better verses than a chorus which is a bit of a shame. And somebody put a restraining order on Tafolla, because this guy is a “smooth criminal” (I don’t mean the track)… he’s just laying down one awesome solo after the other; he should be banned, cause it causes all lesser or aspiring guitarists a huge inferiority complex (hehehe)…
“Fire of Our Spirit” is one of those “celebratory” Panzer songs, where there’s a ton of things going on from crazy drum fills to leads over the riffs and the Tyrant rising above all the hubbub in the most awesome way. I likey… Lots!
Compared to that, “Dare” is a bit of a “downer”, but then again given its pleasant and melodic chorus, it manages to deflate things evenly and bring the album to a close in a most appropriate way…
I must say that initially and based only on the songs that were released online I was increasingly worried that this would have been a bit of a letdown of an album, much like I found “Casting the Stones” a letdown, when it tried to modernize the sound too abruptly. As It turns out, my fears were largely unfounded, as what we get here is a lesser “Fourth Judgement” sort of album, that might not have a standout “single” (“Shadow Thief” – the re-recording of an older song played that role quite handsomely in T4J), but otherwise very solid and given a few spins very rewarding…
The panzers are rolling in the “right” direction and given a bit of time and space, I think they will amply show what they are capable of.