Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Atomic Fire Records
Legendary US Metallers JAG PANZER are back with their 11th studio album called “The Hallowed”. Well we have to wait six years for this one, as their previous studio release “The Deviant Chord” was out back in 2017.
The album actually highlights a conceptual storyline that can be read on a comic book with the same title that the band themselves released back in late 2022. Founding guitarist Mark Briody explains: “The Hallowed” is a concept album, so our approach was very different from the last few releases. With a concept album, we like to score the music to the story, which is a different songwriting style for us.
Six years on the waiting, a concept story and a comic book. Yeah and what about the music? Someone may ask.
“The Hallowed” is a great album. It captures a remarkable combination of the classic JAG PANZER songwriting formulas -that mostly identified the band’s classic releases (“Ample Destruction”, “Chain of Command”)- with the great moments of the band’s latest discography. There are also parts on the songs of the album, seriously connected to the the band’s classic 90s -and early 00s-. “The Fourth Judgment”, “The Age of Mastery” and “Thane to the Throne” are serious influences on this new release.
I also can hear a wide range of the Heavy Metal sound of today as it is presented on the later works of bands like FIFTH ANGEL (“The Third Secret”album), GLACIER (“The Passing of Time” album) or SAVAGE GRACE (“Sign of the Cross” album). Or even from newer bands like MAGNABOLT and IRON BRIGADE (by the way they also have released an album called “Chain of Command”).
The type of Heavy Metal the JAG PANZER releases in “The Hallowed” album, takes no prisoners. It is powerful and inspired. It is driven by some marvelous guitar work that pretty much identifies all of the songs plus the amazing vocals of Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin, that take each and every song in here, to the very next level.
Yes. I have to point that Conklin’s vocals is one of the stronger -if not the strongest- features in this album. His vocal melodies are terrific and they really offer to the songs a strong musical personality. But there are two very important features in the voice of this guy that make him an unstoppable force: First of all the voice’s color. Yes you are listening Conklin singing and he sounds absolutely the same as he sounded back in the “Ample Destruction” days. Secondly the voice’s range. Yes he still hits those high notes like he did back in 84. End of story.
Opening track “Bound As One” is setting the world on fire from the very first second. A fast pieced composition that brought into my mind the glorious “Ample Destruction” days.
“Stronger Than You Know” possibly one of the most impressive songs on the album, highlights some amazing lead parts. I have to point the lead guitar work of (now) full-time member Ken Rodarte signs on the entire album, fitting perfectly with the classic Mark Briody riffing. With big shoes to fill since Joey Tafolla’s departure after the release of “The Deviant Chord” album, Rodarte has certainly became a rising power for JAG PANZER.
“Prey” and “Ties That Bind” songs, mix a variety of tempos and drum beats highlighting a touch of complexity that makes the big difference on those two compositions. As a powerhouse drummer, Rikard Stjernquist (a member since 1987) and original bassist John Tetley have a kinetic connection with each other so you can get ready some remarkable rhythm section parts not only on the above mentioned tracks but on the entire new PANZER release.
“Edge of a Knife” and “Onward we Toil” can simply marked as JAG PANZER classics of the new era.
“Last Rites” is one of the richest compositions of the entire album, full of amazing guitar parts, great vocals and an adventurous structure.
Production and artwork
Jim Morris mixed “The Hallowed” at the famous Morrisound Studios in Florida, bringing everything together in a triumphant package, while Maor Appelbaum (HALFORD, CANDLEMASS, ARMORED SAINT) mastered the album. I can say that the production is great and is doing justice to the album’s music.
The staggering album cover artwork of Dusan Markovic (ANGEL WITCH, VIRGIN STEELE), who previously lent his talents to “The Deviant Chord”, is a perfect complement to the songs contained on “The Hallowed” and continues the band’s long history of delivering great metal and great visuals. Longtime underground metal artist Travis Smith (MEGADETH, OPETH, OVERKILL) was brought in to handle the layout of “The Hallowed” and I got to point that the result is great.
“The Hallowed” is a great Heavy Metal album: It captures the classic JAG PANZER magic, adding a mature and powerful touch to the overall result that pretty much highlights a focused and inspired hard working band, able to offer lots of more new music!
JAG PANZER die hards and Heavy Metal fanatics will love this record!
The album will be out on June 23rd via Atomic Fire Records.