Jag Panzer - Casting the stones 3.5/5
1. Feast or famine
2. The mission (1943)
6. Legion immortal
7. Battered and bruised
9. Starlight's fury
10. The harkening
Jag Panzer, since their “reformation” in the late 90s has been pummeling us with quality power metal releases. They are definitely one of the truly great U.S. power metal bands. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of their recent releases, and am happy to say their 2004 CD 'Casting the stones' is another quality effort. The trademark killer riffing is in tact, paired with more trademark harmony guitar licks. Harry Conklin's voice is awesome as always. He has a bit of a polarizing voice, but I have already been firmly in the “love him” camp, as his power and unique style have always won me over.
In opening track "Feast or famine" there is one new element to the Panzer formula that rears its head throughout certain songs on the CD. Backing the power metal assault are some very dark and dreary sounding keyboards that wouldn't sound out of place on some of the more melodic black metal CDs. It adds an interesting new flavor and tone to the Panzer sound. In "The mission" things firmly return to normal as the opening riffs just scream “JAG PANZER”! A midtempo gallop rolls through with some wonderful harmonies tacked on at the end. A personal favorite of mine is "Tempest" which has a blisteringly fast riff. Again, we hear the somewhat sombre backing keys which paired with Conklin's anguished croning lends a true sense of despair to the song. When the chorus hits, things shift abruptly and the song almost enters a trance like state from Conklin's eerie vocal harmonies. "Tempest" is a monster song!
Overall, I am very pleased with this CD, and certainly recommend it heartily to all present fans of the mighty Jag Panzer! I will say, that it doesn't really supplant any of their past CDs (especially the godly 'Ample destruction'), but it is still most worthy. If you're new to the band, feel free to check this out, but you may want to start with the compilation 'Decade of the nail-spiked bat' to get a better overview of their most classic material.
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