Jag Panzer

Casting the Stones

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Few bands have had as successful a second chance in the music business as power metallers Jag Panzer (many had no such luck with their first and only chance, come to think of it). Having originally thrown in the towel in 1984, the Denver natives were quietly resurrected an entire decade later, and, with 2004's Casting the Stones, they amazingly arrive at their seventh studio effort since -- quite a heart-warming story, dontcha think? Toss in the fact that, thanks to their consistent and quality output, Jag Panzer are as close to power metal royalty as American bands get (along with Iced Earth), and the precedent for continued excellence is firmly established -- and thankfully delivered -- by almost all of this album. Standout songs like "Feast or Famine," "The Harkening," and "Tempest" instantly and effortlessly rekindle the group's ever-glowing heavy metal flame with the usual combination of dense riffs, tight harmonies, dynamic drums, and frontman Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin's patented air-raid siren voice. At times reminiscent of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, at others Black Sabbath's Tony Martin, his muscular delivery never has any trouble rising above the melee. And the very nice gesture of inviting short-tenured singer Bob Parduba (who briefly replaced Conklin for 1987's until recently unreleased Chain of Command LP) to provide backing vocals on first single "The Mission (1941)," and also on the excellent "Starlight's Fury," is further evidence of the familial atmosphere within Jag Panzer. Elsewhere, "Vigilant" proffers the set's first of many blinding showcases for fleet-fingered guitarist Chris Broderick, "Starlight's Fury" adds a little piano playing to the mix, and, although the promising "Achilles" is over disappointingly fast, "Precipice" makes up for it with a truly epic performance. In short, Casting the Stones doesn't pull off any miracles or anything, but makes true Jag Panzer's promise of dependable consistency.

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