Jag Panzer - Scourge of the Light
Power Metal
10 songs (48'47")
Release year: 2011
Jag Panzer, Steamhammer/SPV
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

As much as I was drifting away from power metal lately, I was ecstatic to hear, and happy to report hereby, that Colorado veterans Jag Panzer are making a comeback. I don’t possess any knowledge why the band took a seven year break after 2004 Casting the Stones. If it is some fans criticizing the band for hardening their sound on that album, I did not necessarily feel it was a detriment, however, it wasn’t the best Jag Panzer album in my book either.

At any rate, if our site awarded a Comeback Album of the Year and if such award could be made on the basis of just a few days into a given year, I could see myself assigning the tag to Scourge of the Light. Chances are, if some other prominent act decides to make a comeback, this album will continue standing tall in comparison with whatever challengers throw its way.

On Scourge of the Light Jag Panzer managed to put together succinct, no fat, collection of strong and diverse songs without obvious weak spots. Just like they did it on Mechanized Warfare (now this is my favorite Jag Panzer album), only with the sound showing further improvement courtesy of Jim Morris of famous Morrisound Studios.

Scourge of the Light has a number of harsher jolting numbers, like the opener Condemned to Fight, where unyielding double bass in the verse melds into the flowing smooth chorus, Let It Out, or Cycles, where the stark gallop unfolds slowly, unhurried, making the aforementioned harshness and sound quality count. There are still slower, heavier, storytelling songs like Union, where trademark harmonies flow unimpeded, or Bringing on the End, somewhat reminiscent of The Scarlet Letter, with vocal melody floating over mysterious mid-Eastern slightly chugging riffs.

And then, there are best epic numbers, with unbelievably anthemic choruses which make you proud you became a metalhead in the first place. For Jag Panzer the epic is not about the length of a song, as barely over 3 min The Setting of the Sun has the feeling in abundance. You can’t help but feel that Call to Arms, with its female mourning opening sounds and follow-up cutting riffs, invokes the images of weathered warriors lining up in the final shieldwall. The very subtle female choir, acoustic, clean and tender beginning of The Book of Kells add symphonic elements and make a powerful closing statement. And I am also very happy to report the violin is back, in limited but effective fashion.

I can’t comment on the technical difficulty of Jag Panzer leads, but even with the departed Chris Broderick (Megadeth), I still hear them as gliding smooth when needed (Condemned to Fight) or unleashing a fury when you least expect it (Bringing on the End).

I realize I am approaching the sacrosanct here and could be exposing myself for criticism, but if there was a vocalist to pick up Dio’s fallen mantle it is Harry Conklin. There is absolutely no doubt the man is in fine form on Scourge of the Light, but further yet he is pushing himself to heights previously unexplored. From sinister whispers to vampiric altitude, his voice is a pinnacle of Burn, which uncorks with a foreboding piano melody, impactfully repeated by the full instrumentation later. Song after song, The Tyrant demonstrates that without losing the range he has seemingly added more power in the bottom end (The Setting of the Sun).

I genuinely root for Jag Panzer, and wish Scourge of the Light does not become a one-time shot in the arm, but instead propels them further out of the second tier where Century Media seemingly had them stuck for so long. Hopefully, the label change and the long layoff have done enough to revitalize the band for a while and there is plenty of gunpowder left in these old bags.

Killing Songs :
The Setting of the Sun, Call to Arms, Burn, The Book of Kells, but you really can't go wrong here
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Jag Panzer that we have reviewed:
Jag Panzer - Ample Destruction reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Jag Panzer - Chain of Command reviewed by Mike and quoted 75 / 100
Jag Panzer - Casting the Stones reviewed by Mike and quoted 79 / 100
Jag Panzer - Decade of the Nail Spiked Bat reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
Jag Panzer - Mechanized Warfare reviewed by Chris and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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