by Derric Miller
— Managing Editor—
Jag Panzer has always been one of those bands everyone has heard of, which isn’t the same as being the band everyone is talking about. That easily could have been taken care of when they released The Scourge of the Light, one of the most dominant Metal albums released in a decade. Billboard noticed, as the band charted for their first time. After a long break and nearly a break up, Jag Panzer is back with The Deviant Chord, an album unlike The Scourge of the Light yet just as strong.
It seems the band is, in parts, going back to a more NWOBHM sound on sections of the release. “Born of the Flame” is one of those songs, a galloping, racing composition with some Manowar or older Iron Maiden type guitar leads along with choral gang vocals. As in The Scourge of the Light, the backing vocal harmonies don’t always take a half step up; sometimes singer Harry Conklin just layers his vocals with a full octave leap above the melody line. That’s … not easy.
The title track begins slow, acoustic, and sounds like many European style Power Metal bands—music written with a story to tell. The songs picks up to a full Metal arrangement with some ghostly choruses and one of the best guitar solos on the release. “The Deviant Chord” is a foreboding song, with lines like “tell me what to do,” and “guide me to the afterlife.” While usually touted as American Heavy Metal, this is global, kick ass Metal, much like the new Accept release. If you have ears, you’ll love Jag Panzer.
“Foggy Dew” is a brilliant choice for many reasons. As “Game of Thrones” rules the world, these type of Irish laments are popular as hell, although Jag Panzer metalizes it after paying homage to the original for the opening part of the track. If you didn’t know this before, Conklin has obviously studied and received some serious vocal training. There’s sections of the song where he reaches his vocal break, slides into head register and then amazingly softens the blow with falsetto all in one stanza, one breath. His grasp of technique is plain wizardry.
The Deviant Chord is really just a celebration of all that is great about Metal. Take the triumphant “Long Awaited Kiss,” a song that goes full on Heavy Metal and then becomes a ballad. Instead of the vocals taking the spotlight, it’s the guitars from Mark Briody and Joey Tafolla. “All of my days have led to this … where is my long awaited kiss?” Another brilliant song …
If you want to feel the fire, they bring that too. “Dare” is a macho burner, a thrumming bass line from John Tetley , menacing Conklin vocals and drums from Rikard Stjernquist that don’t follow the numbers but almost veer off into Fates Warning land. Like “Condemned to Fight” from their prior release, this one makes you want to pick a fight with the biggest asshat in the pub just to see what you are made of.
The Deviant Chord is just a great release. You can pick it apart for all of its pieces, its musicality and vocal genius, but that’s not the point. The point is always to write complete songs that people want to hear, to sing along to, to thrust their fist in the air and in the case of Heavy Metal, bang your head. The Deviant Chord is all of the above, and so much more if you care to delve in even deeper.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Harry Conklin – Vocals
Mark Briody – Guitars, Keyboards
Joey Tafolla – Guitars
John Tetley – Bass
Rikard Stjernquist – Drums
01. Born of the Flame (4:00)
02. Far Beyond All Fear (3:49)
03. The Deviant Chord (5:37)
04. Blacklist (4:19)
05. Foggy Dew (3:20)
06. Divine Intervention (3:30)
07. Long Awaited Kiss (6:16)
08. Salacious Behaviour (4:07)
09. Fire of Our Spirit (4:37)
10. Dare (5:17)
Hardrock Haven rating: (9.1 / 10)