Jag Panzer - Scourge of the Light Review
by Matt Hensch
Alright demons and witches, grab your steel gauntlets and take cover: Jag Panzer is on the prowl once again. Harbingers of bringing the power back into power metal, Jag Panzer continue their fiery legacy throughout “The Scourge of the Light,” which releases Jag Panzer’s steel-bending projection into an array of dynamic crafts not unlike their previous achievements. The underrated band responsible for monumental classics like the ripping “Ample Destruction” return with a rocking album still singing the song of true metal despite a lengthy gap between their last release, proving once and for all Jag Panzer is one of the greatest American metal bands the U.S. of A will ever fathom. Even though the record isn't as energetic or rocking as "Ample Destruction," Jag Panzer is still explosive as all Hell throughout "The Scourge of the Light," a fact the listener will immediately garnish once the rapid riffing and soaring vocals of "Condemned to Fight" initiate.
And wow, Jag Panzer are definitely rocking like a classic group. Classic is essentially what they go for here, as the musical blueprint is highly based off verse-chorus textures layered in intoxicating grooves, flashing solos, and fiery speed in the vein of old-school power metal, yet including a incinderary edge I'd say is fond of Judas Priest or other speed metal bands; don't assume I mean "worship," because Jag Panzer is in a league of its own. There aren't many dynamic or complex transitions between tracks, but Jag Panzer pull it off with Harry Conklin leading the battalion while the other tanks roll in with pride. And speaking of Conklin, he totally dominates the album; his voice is in pristine conidition, able to hit notes higher than the sky to no default, making it one of the band's best releases over their lengthy career. In fact, I’ll put my Iron Maiden t-shirts between two pieces of bread and eat the Eddie sandwich if “Burn” and the mighty “The Setting of the Sun” aren’t some of the best Jag Panzer songs ever written.
“The Scourge of the Light” is also a colorful record, as Jag Panzer illuminate in more ways than what you’d expect from their basic metal approach. The turbo riffing and frisky melodies throughout “Condemned to Fight” fade into the Celtic-influenced epic “The Setting of the Sun,” which depends heavily on mighty atmosphere and Conklin’s phenomenal vocals; it’s easily my favorite song. Mid-paced structures dominate “Bringing on the End” whereas “Cycles” and “Let it Out” return to the speedy sanctuary before “The Book of Kells” concludes “The Scourge of the Light” with another folk-inspired saga pinned largely on sorrowful semblance. The variety Jag Panzer shows keeps the listener eagerly awaiting whatever spin they next apply, and the total disregard of poor ideas among their different approaches makes for a well-written release with many fantastic tunes that I can’t seem to ignore.
“The Scourge of the Light” has no mask, no gimmick, no falsehood, and certainly no mercy for trends; it’s simply heavy metal in its truest form. But then again, what else could one expect from Jag Panzer? Conklin sounds wonderful as always and the remaining members do a bang-up job instrumentally and are definitely at the top of their game. While it’s clear “The Scourge of the Light” can’t brush up to the group’s early masterpiece, the record still ignites the embers of classic metal and is certainly worth a purchase for fans both old and new. Definitely recommended.
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