by John Kindred
After a long absence, Jag Panzer are ready to return to the Metal world with the 2011 release of Scourge of the Light. Moving from Century Media to SPV/Steamhammer Records, Jag Panzer alumni Harry Conklin (vocals), Mark Briody (guitar), John Tetley (bass) and Rikard Stjernquis (drums) have returned to the band’s roots. Welcoming guitarist Christian Lasegue, who replaced Chris Broderick, into the group’s ranks has reinvigorated Jag Panzer. Toting a bond from childhood, the connection of brotherhood between Conklin, Briody and Terley transcends their history in Jag Panzer. This unique friendship pushed the band to deliver a mature follow-up to ‘04’s Casting the Stones.
With guitarists Briody and Lasegue handling a majority of the song writing, the music falls into the Power Metal genre. The arrangements are melodic and have a heavy Neo-classical influence. The 10 songs featured on Scourge of the Light have a strong metallic edge and don’t slip off into AOR fluff. With the much-needed rasp for this genre, vocalist Harry Conklin’s dynamic delivery is a fine complement to Briody and Lasegue’s musical compositions. If a comparison could made, at least on Scourge of the Light, Conklin’s vocal style is not unlike Rob Rock’s. Maybe it’s not as heavy or raspy as Rock, but they definitely share similar characteristics in delivery and phrasing.
The album’s artwork sets the tone for the music presented on Scourge of the Light. Painted by Justin Yur, the art presents a lone warrior embarking on a journey through a dark, overgrown jungle. With hints of light bleeding through a twisted maze of trees and vines, the image is a clear representation of the music if it was applied to tapestry.
The song titles also harness this dark, epic almost fantasy-like vibe. Opening Scourge of the Light with the balls-to-the-walls “Condemned to Fight,” Jag Panzer hits you with an upper cut to the jaw. Shying away from pitfalls of delivering syrupy ballads, the album hits you in the mouth over and over again with its mix of heavy, thunderous arrangements that feature melodic passages and blistering solos. Dynamically, the band mixes the album with varied tempos, textures and layers of music and vocals. With plenty of gems to be heard, such as “Union” and “Overlord,” fans are in for a treat.
Recorded on a tight budget, the band put every effort in making this album a true gem, from the music to the final production. They enlisted Jim Morris to mix the album at his studio, Morrisound Studios, in Florida, and the final mastering was done at Sterling Sound in New York. The production and final mastering bring the music to life. All the instrumentation Scourge of the Light is finely balanced and audible. The vocals lay over the top of the music and are mixed to perfection; they are not too loud and certainly not buried in the final mix.
Jag Panzer has produced a complete album. You won’t find any filler songs here. Fans get 48 minutes of metal. The album is loud, furious and unrelenting. Opening 2011 with a bang, Scourge of the Light kicks the New Year off right, giving hope that this will be a banner year for quality Metal releases.
Harry Conklin – Vocals
Mark Briody – Guitar
Chris Lasegue – Guitar
John Tetley – Bass
Rikard Stjernquist – Drums
1. Condemned to Fight
2. The Setting of the Sun
3. Bringing on the End
4. Call to Arms
7. Let It Out
10. The Book of Kells
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.4/10
Release Date: February/March 2011