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Released: 2001, Century Media
America’s heavy metal cult heroes have returned with their latest CD, MECHANIZED WARFARE. In essence, this album continues along the same path as their previous CD THANE TO THE THRONE (released in 2000). This band basically stands alone in what they are doing. They are not just another power metal band, no way! This is essentially 80’s HEAVY metal with modern day qualities putting it into a category with bands like Symphorce and Steel Prophet mixed with the 80’s sounds of Iron Maiden. The more I listen to this album, the harder I find it to draw comparisons to other bands. This definitely stands on it’s own and I don’t hesitate to say this is a step up from their previous release. When I first popped this CD on I was like “yeah this sounds pretty good.” It wasn’t until after 4-5 more listens that I really started to form the opinion that this was not just good but GODLY!! If you breathe heavy metal, then you owe it to yourself to give this band a chance!!!
Upon playing this CD there is one VERY obvious improvement and that is in the lead guitar department. This is awesome stuff and the highlight of the CD for me this time out!!! The lead guitar tone is killer. The soloing has lots of “progressive” ripping solos with more arpeggios and more fluid soloing all around. I don’t know if this was a result of an improvement in technique or if it was a result of the reigns being set free on the soloist, Chris Broderick. Amazing sweeping and melody is found in “Take To The Sky”, ripping leads in “Scarlet Letter”….I could go on and on, but you get the point. Hail to Mr. Broderick for taking the lead guitars to the next level!! The only other thing with regards to the guitars I will mention relates to the track “The Silent”. This one has what reminds me of a Megadeth guitar feel and sound (a la “Angry Again”), most noticeable on the opening riffs. Besides that one comparison everything on here sounds entirely Jag Panzer. Again, the vocals of Jag Panzer’s Harry “Thy Tyrant” Conklin are pure steel. If you like classic metal vocals from such metal gods as Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson then you will love Harry’s voice. He is definitely underrated and should be saluted for the metal god he is. For some reason the vocals on “Scarlet Letter” strike a chord with me, largely due to the melodious chorus. Not only are the lead vocals on here perfect, but there are a few places where there are backing choirs. They really are outstanding as on “Unworthy” with a “monk chant” type of feel and on the diverse closer “All Things Renewed”.
There’s not much else to say about this CD except to again stress that if you like traditional heavy metal then you have to give these guys a chance. Sure there are power metal and thrash metal elements sprinkled throughout this album, but overall this is straight up pure steel.
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