Far too often in the music industry, the talent of promising bands is wasted. Whether it is through the following of dead-end trends, internal strife, or a simple lack of success, these unlucky bands seem to toil away until they either split up or are forgotten. This is what almost happened to Colorado metal band, Jag Panzer. Their first album, 1984's Ample Destruction, was an underground hit in the ever growing American metal scene. However, due to the departure of two of its members, vocalist Harry Conklin and guitarist Joey Taffolla, as well as poor promotion and limited marketing skills of their label, Jag Panzer never really took off. The recorded a second album, Chain of Command, in 1987, but that record never made it out of the studio. Jag Panzer broke up in 1988. But as luck would have, the Americans reformed in 1994 and began tearing up the underground metal scene once again with four albums in six years, with 2000's Thane to the Throne earning rave reviews across the board. Just barely over a year later, Jag Panzer would release their highly anticipated sixth album, Mechanized Warfare.
And what an album it is. Whereas 1984's Ample Destruction was molded more in the classic metal frame of find, Mechanized Warfare is full on power metal. But Jag Panzer does not refer to the happier side of metal that is reflected in the music of Freedom Call or Hammerfall. Mechanized Warfare has more in common with the likes of German power metal bands such as Angel Dust or their cross country brethren Iced Earth. Jag Panzer's recipe for power metal calls for heavy, hard hitting riffs; high flying, yet mid-range vocals; energetic, melodic guitar solos; and of course, the aggressive, ever present rhythm section. All this can be found in the albums opener, Take to the Sky. Jag Panzer could not have gotten off to a better start with this opener, as it encompasses everything that brings success to the band's music. Guitarists Mark Briody and Chris Broderick in particular, never let up during the course of the album, with the intensity level of the music never wavering as the bands plows through song after song, section after section. Mechanized Warfare is a very satisfying record in this regard, and certainly lives up to the Jag Panzer name.
Consistency is not a description which passes over Mechanized Warfare. Much of the band's sixth album is incredibly solid, with no immediately recognizable weak points. The band's major strength would definitely be the inspiring vocal efforts of Harry Conklin, yet despite this, the other musicians are no slouches either. The guitar solos are very precise and enjoyable, as the almost always spice up the music and add something new. Though they are most definitely not the most impressive leads you'll ever hear, but they do their job effectively. The drumming, too, is not exactly earth shattering. But like the soloing of Mark and Chris, it tastefully completes its task without taking away from the music. In essence, while there is definitely talent present in the band, it's the energy, the effort, and the precision found in Jag Panzer's music which makes the album worthwhile.
However, if there was one thing which the bad excelled at, it would be creating an atmosphere. This songwriting talent is very evident throughout the album. In the second track, Frozen in Fear, the band plays at a frantic pace, building up the emotion of fear in their music with proficient riffs and excellent vocals. The song Unworthy creates an even more interesting mood and atmosphere. The song begins with Gregorian chanting, which is used throughout the song, but most heavily in the first minute of the song. The result is a very mysterious sounding track, which perhaps best exemplifies the band's songwriting skill. The chants fit together with the actual music very well, and as a result, the song is a quite enjoyable piece to listen to. One of Jag Panzer's greatest strengths rests in the ability to create these types of moods in their music, and it increases the value of Mechanized Warfare quite a bit.
Despite attaining a promising start to their career, Jag Panzer did not really get its feet off the ground for several years. But they've been plugging away for a good 12 years now, as they reformed in 1994. 2000's Mechanized Warfare is an excellent listen, as it pieces together some of the band's most infectious works. Songs like Take to the Sky, Unworthy, and The Silent are excellent listens, and those who enjoy power metal should enjoy them. Mechanized Warfare is an excellent album for new listeners of both power metal and new listeners of Jag Panzer. Fans of bands such as Tad Morose, Angel Dust, and Iced Earth should also check out this album, as it puts an emphasis on the heavier side of power metal. Don't hesitate to purchase this if you have the chance.
Take to the Sky