Jag Panzer has a special page in the Big Book of American Metal, being one of the early progenitors of what was once known as “American power metal.” Their testosterone and armpit hair laden adaptation of the NWoBHM sound along with the uber metal vocals of Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin set their 1984 Ample Destruction debut apart from the typical Priest and Maiden clones, and along with similar acts like Metal Church and Helstar, they helped develop a mighty sound later pilfered thoroughly by Sanctuary and Iced Earth. Sadly, the band was destined to play the role of table setter rather than standard-bearer for this style, as internal turmoil tore the classic lineup asunder and rendered them unable to release a proper follow-up to Ample Destruction until 1997s The Fourth Judgment. By then their style was old hat, but that didn’t stop them from releasing a series of classy and killer traditional metal albums between 97 and 2011, including a highly metalized retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth on Thane to the Throne1. The band imploded again following 2011s The Scourge of the Light and it seemed the legendary act had finally delivered all their goods. Fast forward to the present and 4/5ths of the classic lineup has come back together for The Deviant Chord, including guitar phenom, Joey Tafolla, who hasn’t played with the band since 97. So with most of the classic lineup back in black, can the band revive the glory days of American metal?

Wasting no time, the band hits hard with “Born of the Flame,” which finds a near perfect sweet spot between their earliest material and the far more polished works of their later period. It has a traditional Maiden-esque gallop amped up by the rage of The Tyrant and his ageless pipes o’ steel2. The guitar tandem of Tafolla and Mark Briody is awe-inspiring as they shred all that shredders can shred while taking ample opportunities to noodle and wank. They never go full Yngwie though, but you may wish they did. The result is catchy and proven to grow chest hair in laboratory trials. “Far Beyond All Fear” sticks with this winning formula but adds more nutsack with predictably exaggerated but amusing results.

The title track is the kind of slow burning epic The Tyrant lives to wail upon, with vocals and solos so bombastic, they may require safe spaces for some listeners. “Black List” shows Tyrant can still hit those high notes and it’s hard to resist the combination of catchy writing and excessive fretwork gymnastics. The band even dusts off the ancient Irish ballad “Foggy Dew” and gives it a Panzer spit shine, turning it into a shockingly over the top war song so hefty even Sabaton couldn’t lift it. “Long Awaited Kiss” is another variation on the power ballad, this one written in waltz-time and graced with classical piano and string accompaniment before Tyrant enters the hall to blow everything to smithereens as he chews the scenery like Vincent Price on the set of a $100 million horror epic. The album closes in grand style with “Dare” which sounds the most like the modern era of Panzer with guitar-work that’s heavy, classy and bigger than Cthulhu Jesus.

There isn’t a weak song in the bunch and the album manages to feel very cohesive despite a surprisingly diverse collection of styles and moods. The material is aided greatly by a rich production that allows both Tyrant and the twin guitar monsters to all shine equally. At a tight 44 minutes, there’s no issues with bloat and with most songs running between 3 and 5 minutes, they knock you over and run into the night as classic metal songs should.

It’s hard to say who is most impressive here. Tyrant’s vocals haven’t aged one iota, making him some kind of metal Countess Bathory, and as he’s always been one of my favorite wailers, it’s a joy to hear him still sounding so righteous over 30 years after first becoming a fan. That said, the return of Joey Tafolla is a big freakin’ deal, and he and Briody mean business here. So much hyperactive soloing, so much foot-on-amp fret-board abuse. It’s all almost too much metal to take in, but you must.

This is the sound of a band hitting their prime, even if it’s 33 years late. If you love traditional metal, it’s going to be hard to find something this catchy, polished and rocking in 2017 or any other year. Jag Panzer seems to get better with age while everything else falls apart. All except scotch. I love scotchy, scotch, scotch, and I love Jag Panzer. Best served with scotch.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Websites: jagpanzer.comfacebook.com/jagpanzerofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 29th, 2017

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Whose timeless opening of “I am mighty!” is one of the best non-Manowar metal moments of all time
  2. Seriously, this guy sounds just as good as he did in 84, which makes no sense at all.

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  • Ivan E. Rection

    This sounds damn good. And love the Helstar name drop… Remnants of War for the win.

    • That’s one of my all time favorite metal albums.

  • Hate to dismiss something based on one track, but the vocals would make this hard for me to get through. The guitars seems to liven things up, though. Seems like we’ve heard this all before, doesn’t it?

    • Nukenado

      Well… you’ve heared it before because they pioneered that style.

  • Septic

    4/5 of the original lineup is wonderful. I do feel as if the outer 2 men have their face shrouded in 1/2 http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2a5c60ed193cd2b926b636a2f7d131df405ea801edd3efda83b117e65dd252b3.jpg anonymity. If this isn’t addressed they could leave the band making it a 3/5 new lineup. This can’t happen. Now they can all dwell in 1/2 anonymity to continue as the 5/5 new lineup

  • savafreak

    As much as I love them and Pre-Ordered this album as soon as it was announced, there something lacking in the mix this time, the drums sounds weird and very mechanical almost like a drum machine, and the guitar sound seems thin and buried in the mix, dunno, it sounds more like a demo than a final mix really! The music is great though as expected from these fine gentlemen

    • Gena Gorin

      Yeah, not fond of a mix either.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Scotchy, scotch, scotch?

    Scotch doesn’t like you.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    I LOVE SATIRE.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    How do guys like Tyrant and Belladonna manage to keep their voices in such good shape over the years? Avoiding smokes and stuff like this? http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5892b8530b9261278162ced770618644559db2b3f7d8e71bb308f768e59332cd.jpg

    • I shouldn’t want that, but I do.

      • Nukenado

        Have some Kvelertak beer with Fleshgod Pastapocalypse topped with Insomnium Chili to cool off for a bit.

        • Eli Valcik

          I just want whatever those Khemmis guys are smoking.

          • Nukenado

            Wizard Weed.

          • The Unicorn

            True ‘dat!

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    While I find this record enjoyable, I think the 4.0 rating is a much. I’d put it closer to a 3.0.

    • I’ve been a huge fan since 84, so to me this is exactly what I was hoping for.

  • Wes Allen
  • Malhorne

    I AM HAPPY TO READ/HEAR THIS

  • Jeffrey Dean

    This is a fun record, but like another poster said, something about the way the drums are presented makes them sound like a drum machine. It’s REALLY distracting.

  • Nag Dammit

    From left to right: “Ugggh Ahh!”; “Sniff, sniff. What’s that?”; “Sniiiiiiifffff! Ahh, beautiful.”; “That is insufferable”; “Hold me.”

  • Bas

    An ode to Jag Panzer by S. Druhm ;-) Curious how a 5.0 review by Steel will be like !

    (Going to listen to the embedded track tomorrow to make up my mind.)

    Isnt there also a new Metal Church album?
    The comeback year of US power metal???

    • I don’t do 5.0s anymore…until Manowar gets their shit together.

      • Eli Valcik

        Good ol’ ManowaR, responsible for some of the absolute best metal songs and some of the absolute worse metal songs.

  • eleven.eight

    “…sticks with this winning formula but adds more nutsack” is just one glorious example of the prickly (!) writing at AMG that forms the basis of my regular visits.

    Come to think of it, “Angry Metal Guy: Now With More Nutsack” should be a future header.

    • FelixtheMetalcat

      Thanks for the hilarious comment of the week, i fully agree !

      • eleven.eight

        Thank you for the kind words, Felix. Ha ha. I’m happy to hear I could brighten someone’s day!

  • Mollusc

    Listening to this will be like those five guys swinging their nutsacks against my ears?

  • Mark Briody

    Thanks for the review. Much appreciated! I’ll share this with the rest of the guys in the band.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    I loved Ample Destruction when I first heard it as a teenager in the ’80s. But I thought Jag Panzer were a NWOBHM band. I think I had a bunch of underappreciated 80s bands all scrambled together, like “Jaguar Tygers of Panzer Tang” or something! Still, great to hear that Jag Panzer are still at it and releasing quality material.

  • Tofu muncher

    The review reads like a 5 to me, and the album is that good.

  • Eli Valcik

    Why is the album art a Spider Man villain?

    • I was thinking the same thing. Nobody expects a Lizard concept album.

  • IamRipper

    The Tyrant’s vocals only get stronger. Have you heard his work with Satan’s Host? Epic.

  • beurbs

    This is everything I wish Book of Souls would’ve been. Much mention is made of guitar wankery, but I’m hard-pressed to find any soloing here that is without tuneful melodic phrasing.

  • FelixtheMetalcat

    Embedded tune is pretty tight, i really dig it. I really enjoyed The Scourge of Light album and am very happy to hear another slab of metal from these guys.