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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Jag Panzer

The Scourge of the Light

Review by Gary Hill

Hearing this album without consulting information on the band, I thought they would be European. It turns out the group is from Colorado in the good old, USA. These guys have a sound that’s well rooted in the metal of the 1980s (the real steel, not the hair variety). It incorporates newer sounds like epic metal and other elements, too, though. This is a disc that has a lot variety and will never fail to entertain. There’s not a weak cut to be found.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Condemned to Fight

This powers in with a technical epic metal texture. They take it through some neo-classical changes through the introduction. Then it fires out into a thrashy jam for the first vocals. This is, in a lot of ways, like a cross between modern epic metal, old school Iron Maiden (particularly the vocals) and early Metallica. It’s very effective and a great opener.

The Setting of the Sun
Starting with an echoey sound clip of children reciting the end of “The Lord’s Prayer,” this powers out from there into a metal ballad type of tune that’s powerful and slower. It’s more modern and more purely epic metal in texture. It’s also great. There’s a cool riff in this that feels like a circle that’s broken into short, stuttering segments. There is also some violin employed for great effect.
Bringing on the End
Although there is still a modern metal element here, it’s far less epic metal than the previous two numbers. There’s a lot of old-school metal built into this. The vocal arrangement is particularly powerful and, at times, it calls to mind Dio era Black Sabbath. They drop it back for a mellow movement mid-track that’s fairly intricate. When they power back out, it’s definitely in a symphonic, technical metal approach. It works to the original motif from there.
Call to Arms
A dramatic, symphonic sounding section, complete with operatic female vocals open this in an epic metal sound. It shifts out to some very Maiden-like music from there.  In a lot of ways this calls to mind early Iron Maiden a lot.
Cycles
There’s a killer main riff here, but overall this is basically pretty straightforward metal. Of course, that said, these guys still make it interesting. It’s just more basic than the music we’ve heard to this point. The guitar solo section on this, though – and in fact the whole instrumental section – is pretty incredible.
Overlord
This time we get more of an epic metal texture onboard again. The vocal arrangement calls to mind Dio more than Iron Maiden here, but Maiden is still present at times. The cut really has a mean texture to it and the real epic metal elements come along mostly in the vocal arrangement and the intro/bridge.
Let It Out
Frantic and powerful, this is quite raw. There are definitely valid comparisons to be made to early Iron Maiden here. This is one of the most scorching hot tunes on show. It’s stripped, raw and powerful. WASP is a valid comparison at times, but so is a more metallic Burn era Deep Purple.
Union
A far more epic metal sound is present here, but still not the point of actually crossing into that genre. The vocal arrangement really dominates the proceedings here, but that’s not to say the music is lacking. It’s just that multiple layers of vocals and approaches bring a lot of drama and power to this piece.
Burn

Piano starts this off, but they quickly turn things towards more pure heavy metal. It fires out to technical metal that just plain screams. They turn it to a more straightforward arrangement for the vocals. There are a couple bits of this number that make me think of King Diamond. A drop back later is like a combination of Maiden and the King. Then it turns towards more neo-classically tinged metal.

The Book of Kells
This comes in a little spooky with layers of spoken words. From there it works out to a very traditional, folk sounding ballad motif. It’s very Celtic in nature. That holds the track for the first vocals and the first minute. Then it works out to a heavier jam. Lots of layers of classically tinged vocals bring an epic metal approach at first. They drop it down to a stripped down metal motif and grow back out from there after the next set of vocals. As it continues some of those classical elements are added to the mix. The main motif remains unchanged, though, with those epic metal textures added on top. A little before the five-minute-mark it shifts to dramatic tones and then drops down to the balladic again. Eventually it powers back out and the more classical elements take a more prominent role. They fade it down after about seven and a half minutes to end.
 
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