Jag Panzer - Mechanized Warfare


Year of Release: 2001
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 77369-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:54:00

It is quite by coincidence that two of the albums I reviewed this month and in the same "issue," feature a track where the chorus includes the lyric: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" (obviously from the same Biblical source). The first instance was in Blind Guardian's Somewhere Far Beyond and the track "Ashes To Ashes." Here, on Jag Panzer's Mechanized Warfare, it is in "Unworthy," one of my favourite tracks on the album. I don't comment much upon the BG song in my review, as this correlation didn't reveal itself until I began delving deeper into Mechanized Warfare (that is, having listened to both CDs a dozen times over the last few weeks, it isn't until I sit down with the lyrics in front of me that I noticed).

Anyway, "Unworthy" begins and ends with the Gregorian chants of the monks from The Order Of Saint Hubbins; in between muscular, yet laidback metal. I really love Conklin's vocal performance here, even when shoots for the high notes. But, he also seems restrained, which, along with the taut drumming, double guitars, and tight bass, gives this track a very closed in feeling. And yet, this isn't a bad thing, just an observation. Actually, I think much the same thing can be said about every track... the band don't waste any energy on extraneous flairs. If ever one felt a strong sense of purpose and direction in an album, this is certainly it. I really dig the melodic choruses of "The Silent" -- it's classic. If I hadn't been drawn to the band because of the concept in Thane To The Throne, I certainly would have been listening to the music on this. Though, the odd track here is the slinky, sexy (and, some might say, stereotypically sexist) "The Scarlet Letter." There are points where I thought of Queen during their A Night At The Opera period, though this track could serve as companion of sorts to "Killer Queen" (Sheer Heart Attack).

"Take To The Sky" which opens the album is their take on fighter pilots that Iron Maiden celebrated in song with "Aces High" -- where as one imagines World War II planes in the Maiden track, it is our sleek, modern aircraft that Harry Conklin and company sing about in "Take To The Sky." However, I don't know if the term "celebrate" is entirely apt as concerns "Take To The Sky," as there is a, perhaps, telling line right at the end, "One more kill, one more scar for her side." Hmm...could the "her" be the US? (Jag Panzer are based in Colorado) Meaning that even though the weapons are more precise, the results are still the same? The companion song here is "Cold Is The Blade (And The Heart That Wields It)" which seems like a track left over from the Thane To The Throne sessions.

"Frozen In Fear" is the band's thundering look at molestation, which features a terrific guitar solo that is crisp, clean and melodic. The warmth of music belies the dark theme. "Hidden In My Eyes" is very much in the late-classic Queenryche style (that is, before Q2K) ... soaring melodies, lyrics that touch on the personal (feelings, romance, etc.) -- the underlying subject is separation or divorce. In amongst these testosterone fueled tracks like "Take To The Sky," "Cold Is The Battle" and "The Scarlet Letter," this shows another side to the band ... "Power Surge" is the track that appeals the least to me, mainly due to Conklin's occassionally screeched vocals (seems uncharacteristically screechy to me), but musically it is on par with the album as a whole. "All Things Renewed" is a classically styled track - mellow passages that give way to the big themes, including (as elsewhere) a chorus of voices. That big theme seems to be the Apocalypse.

As I said, the playing here is quite solid, as Jag Panzer collectively have managed to produce (another) album where even the weakest aspects tower far above other, lesser bands. I'm well impressed by this release and by the stellar guitar playing from both Chris Broderick and Mark Briody, the tremendous drumming of Rikard Stjernquist, and the solid basswork from John Tetley -- and, of course, Conklin's vocals. Highly recommended.


Tracklisting:
Take To The Sky (5:28) / Frozen In Fear (3:42) / Unworthy (6:09) / The Silent (5:15) / The Scarlet Letter (3:53) / Choir Of Tears (6:11) / Cold Is The Blade (And The Heart That Wields It) (5:55) / Hidden In My Eyes (4:26) / Power Surge (6:14) / All Things Renewed (7:01)

Musicians:
Mark Briody - guitars, keyboards
Christ Broderick - guitars, keyboards Harry Conklin - vocals
Rikard Stjernquist - drums
John Tetley - bass
Guest musicians

Todd Ehle - violin
Kimberly Kendall, Brian Miller, Keith Spargo, Rhiannon Conklin, Jim Morris - choir
The Monks from The Order of Saint Hubbins - Gregorian chants

Discography:
Tyrants (1983)
Ample Destruction (1984)
Dissident Alliance (1994)
The Fourth Judgement (1997)
The Age Of Mastery (1998)
Thane To The Throne (2000)
Mechanized Warfare (2001)
Decade Of The Nail Spiked Bat (2003)
Casting The Stones (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: May 10th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.jagpanzer.com
Hits: 754
Language: english

  

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