Jag Panzer storms the battlefield with its first album in six years. The Deviant Chord is replete with soaring vocals and stellar guitar virtuosity. I admit that power metal is my least favorite sub-genre in heavy metal, but Jag Panzer always possessed a heavier edge than its contemporaries. This is evident on “Far Beyond All Fear” which has a clear Iron Maiden influence with its galloping riffs and beautiful guitar harmonies. Vocalist Harry Conklin’s signature soulful, raspy vocals have not dulled with age and his voice ascends over the music with ease. The title track opens with a dreamy acoustic guitar passage before the electric guitars burst through the speakers and settles into a grooving riff. The haunting back vocals sound like a spectral chorus adding the song’s creepy nature. “Foggy Dew” is notable for its military percussion which complements the patriotic flair of the guitars. It is a fairly cheesy track, but still a fun listen. “Divine Intervention” features a sweeping guitar riff and a bluesy solo at the beginning that drives the song forward over a rocking drum pattern. “Dare” concludes the album in heavy fashion, with its stomping drumming and staccato guitar riffing.
The musicianship on this album is top notch. Guitarists Mark Briody and Joey Tafolla are commendable guitarists that play well off of each other. The rhythm section featuring bassist John Tetley and drummer Rikard Stjernquist is precise and uniform. This makes the album a bit generic at times as there are few standout moments. The band plays it safe at times, but that is understandable as the band reformed in 2013.
The Deviant Chord is a somewhat misleading title as the band does not deviate from the power metal formula. Fans of Jag Panzer may enjoy the album as the vocals and guitar work is still solid. However, the songwriting is conventional, and will probably improve on the following record. Die hard fans of Jag Panzer and power metal in general should enjoy this.
For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website: