Released: 2000, Century Media Records
Jag Panzer are a band that achieved moderate underground success in the early 80's then disappeared. They have gained somewhat of a cult status and to some are legends. In 1996 the Ample Destruction line-up (their first CD from 1984) reformed to the excitement of their fans. I haven't heard this band's other two Century Media releases from the 90's (The Fourth Judgement - '97 and The Age of Mastery - '98) so I cannot compare Thane To The Throne to these recent works. I can tell you however that this is up there in terms of it's greatness with the likes of Nevermore and Iced Earth! The band is a contender in today's true metal resurgence and are not grasping for past glories. All the glory is right here on this CD and it's quite impressive!
Thane To The Throne is a concept CD based on Shakespeare's Macbeth. I was forced to read that book in high school and like most stuff I am forced to do/read/whatever I hated it! I obviously didn't commit this story to long term memory, so I cannot elaborate on the tale of Macbeth. The storyline is not what makes this CD for me, it's the music. Jag Panzer's sound is traditional metal all the way. The vocals on this CD are very strong. They don't soar high like Helloween but are more powerful in a Dio meets Iced Earth sort of way. Considering vocalist Harry Conklin has been belting out metal since the early 80's his voice is in excellent shape. With talent like that it's strange that his name is not more well-known. Some might call the music on Thane To The Throne power metal, but this has more in common with the Iced Earth flavor of metal than "happy" sounding power metal. The CD is 17 tracks long - the majority are songs but there are a number of storyteller parts between songs. The stronger tracks on this CD include the crunchy "King At Any Price." I really like the harmony singing part on the track "Three Voices of Fate." This has a major Blind Guardian feel to it. The riff at the beginning of "Fate's Triumph", which is the main riff in the song, is incredibly catchy and is one of those that make you want to just bang your head. The added violin part in this song also fits over the riff nicely without overpowering the guitars. The lengthy solo in this one is pretty cool as well. There's one part in the solo where the time changes and the lead follows over the change flawlessly. This is another of the strengths of this band. These guys can totally shred, when required of course....this is not mindless shredding. The second last track on the CD, "The Downward Fall", is entirely acoustic. It sounds like it has influences from classical and the Spanish flamingo style. Pretty impressive even if this was not a "metal" track.
None of the songs on Thane To The Throne made me want to hit the skip button - more like the repeat CD button! I had this stuck in the player for quite a few days and it keeps growing on me. It's too bad this style of metal is not more accepted here in North America because this CD is simply great! Watch for them to tour Europe soon and check http://www.jagpanzer.com
for more information on the band.