Jag Panzer, a tour de force in the U.S. power metal movement, has consistently set the standard for the genre since their inception in 1981. Hailing from Colorado, the band has over four decades of experience churning out classic, hard-hitting metal that has won them legions of fans and a revered place in the annals of our beloved underground scene. Their signature sound, characterized by the precise, rapid-fire guitar work of Mark Briody and the awe-inspiring vocal range of Harry Conklin, has played a significant role in shaping the U.S. power metal landscape.
Drawing from the rawness and energy that has long been the weapon of choice of the American masters, ‘The Hallowed’, their first full length in 6 years, proves that this powerhouse of heavy metal is still a force to be reckoned with. John Tetley (bass), Mark Briody (guitars), Harry Conklin (vocals), Rikard Stjernquist (drums), and newcomer Ken Rodarte (guitars), each bring a unique touch that weaves together into an impressive tapestry of sound.
The album, a concept piece set in a post-apocalyptic future, is a bold departure from the band’s more traditional themes, but a gamble that pays off beautifully much like ‘Thane to the Throne’did back in 2000. With a unique storytelling approach, the band tells the story from the perspective of animals, a compelling choice that adds an extra layer of depth to the music. This theme was further elaborated with a comic book released alongside the album, providing the human perspective to the story. In order to promote the album, these guys went old school and sent out a special sound card to journalists, keeping the post-apocalyptic theme going with some retro tech. The novelty and creativity of this project are indicative of a band that refuses to stagnate, and it is a testament to their ongoing commitment to innovation and evolution, all while maintaining the classic standards of a consolidated sound.
“Bound as One” is the opening track, setting the stage with speedy riff work that could blow the doors off a tank. Songs like “Ties that Bind“, in turn, borrow a little from the more direct passages of Iron Maiden, while “Onward We Toil” features intricate yet intimate lead work. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein, with a total of ten tracks that will take you on a ride through most of Jag Panzer’s musical background and characteristic songwriting style.
All tracks serve as a testament to Jag Panzer’s mastery of the genre. Tunes like “Stronger than You Know,” “Onward We Toil” and “Edge of a Knife” are full of the power and intensity that fans have come to expect from the band, but they also carry a sense of urgency and haunting beauty that resonates with the album’s themes. The closing track, “Last Rites” is a nearly ten-minute epic that wraps up the album in a grand and gripping fashion.
‘The Hallowed’ was recorded across multiple studios, with drums and bass recorded at Sonic Phish Productions, rhythm guitars and vocals at Mark Briody‘s own Hound House Studios, and lead guitars at SteamPunk Audio Labs. The album was mixed at Morrissound Studios in Florida and mastered at Maor Appelbaum Mastering. While this is not a problem in modern times and current technology, the overall production value does seem subpar at times, but the analogic sound achieved is transformed into something charming and could be considered an ode and continuation of the heydays. Eventually, the dynamic range can fall quite a bit and hurt the songs, though.
Jag Panzer’s longevity and consistency are impressive, with the band weathering numerous lineup changes and the shifting sands of musical trends to remain a relevant force in the metal world. Their ability to evolve while staying true to their roots speaks to their deep understanding of their craft and their commitment to fans.
In summary, whether you’re a fan of traditional metal, dystopian narratives, or just a good old-fashioned air raid siren that only “The Tyrant” Conklin can deliver, ‘The Hallowed’ will have something to offer you. The album is a rather brilliant addition to Jag Panzer’s discography. It carries the band’s signature power and intensity, while also pushing into new territory with its unique concept and storytelling approach. As one of the pioneering bands of the U.S. power metal movement, Jag Panzer’s impact and legacy are undeniable. They have not only helped define the genre but have also inspired a new generation of metal bands, cementing their status as one of the most revered and classic bands in the scene. Their music continues to resonate with fans old and new, proving that true power metal, much like the band itself, is timeless. Highly recommended.
Songwriting & Lyrics9/10 Amazing‘The Hallowed’ carries the band's signature power and intensity, while also pushing into new territory with its unique concept and storytelling approach.
Overall Sound8/10 Very GoodWhether you're a fan of traditional metal, dystopian narratives, or just a good old-fashioned air raid siren that only “The Tyrant” Conklin can deliver, ‘The Hallowed’ will have something to offer you.