Released: 2004, Century Media
Jag Panzer can do no wrong. Ever since their glorious THANE TO THE THRONE I have loved every album they’ve done. The songwriting is top notch, the vocals are heaven-sent, and the lead playing is not of this earth. The tradition of making necks snap and jaws drop continues on the band’s new opus CASTING THE STONES.
The album cover for CASTING THE STONES is as expected, amazing, as is the overall sound. The rhythm sound and drum sound is excellent. For the untrained ear, this CD might seem like a lot to swallow since it is complex with different song styles, timings, etc. After a couple listens you will begin to appreciate the album more as melody lines take root….thus the seeds of the thought of “album of the year” are planted.
Every single song on here is a stand out for me and has something in it that had me going “whoa, Jag Panzer fucking rule”. From a topical stand point, since I am a WWII movie freak, I quickly latched on to the Maiden-ish track “The Mission (1943)”. There is a line in the chorus that says “The Guns of Navarone”, which is of course about the fictional movie of the same name. For reasons unknown to me, that move is considered a classic, but is in desperate need of a remake since it has a lot of flat acting and piss-poor special effects. The storyline/book however, are great and is the subject matter covered here. Anyway, I’m not here to review WWII movies, so onwards we march.
The CD offers a multi-textured mix of metal right from the well-selected opener “Feast or Famine” which builds up from the intro to a full on double kicking power metal track with layered vocals, backing vocals, a ripping solo, everything that is great about Jag Panzer. There is a nice drum intro on “Vigilant” complete with the tolling of a bell….very metal! The middle section of the song breaks down with some piano and orchestration. The use of dynamics like these is yet another reason for the supremacy of Jag Panzer. The melody at the beginning of “Achilles” starts out sounding like a grooving version Amorphis meets Spiritual Beggars. This is a short song coming in at under 3mins. Again, the subject matter is something that is cool. Use of history in metal lyrics is always something I get into. There are a couple of strong hints of a Nevermore influence on the track “Tempest” with what sounds like some 7-string guitar riffing employed in the Nevermore style. Perhaps this is a result of the heaviness of the music mixed with some progressive elements, ideas that Nevermore have developed to perfection as well. “Starlight’s Fury” begins with an Yngwie-like lead melody that sounds very cool in this context. That’s where the Yngwie comparison begins and ends; as the song goes into a very busy-sounding riff unlike anything you’d hear our neo-classical virtuoso play.
Despite being miles ahead of many other “power” metal bands, Jag Panzer do not seem to get the “superstar” status that they deserve. Perhaps it’s marketing? Perhaps it’s because their power metal is powerful, and not filled with simple happy melodies? Either way, know that they are at the top of their game with CASTING THE STONES and have possibly released their best album ever.
Note: CASTING THE STONES is currently for pre-sale on http://www.jagpanzer.com
for only $12 US and it comes with a poster! Hopefully my order shows up soon! For those who’d rather wait, it’s not long now. The CD hits these shores on October the 19th.