Long running power/heavy metal band Jag Panzer return with their twelfth album The Hallowed, a follow up to 2017’s The Deviant Chord. Nearly six years have passed and also being on a new record label to boot could mean there are changes afoot, but Jag Panzer are here to deliver their signature sound once again.
This time around the concept of the album has to do with a post apocalyptic world where being lost in nature and overcoming it from the perspective of the animals sees the band treading new conceptual ground. The Hallowed is their most ambitious album since 2000’s Macbeth epic Thane To The Throne.
Opening track “Bound As One” is bombastic and features plenty of Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin on vocals as he has been the band’s driving force in conjunction with bassist John Tetley since 1981 and more consistently since 1995. As the album progresses to “Ties That Bind,” you get a more vocally driven performance with a sort of ballad played with slowly strummed heavy riffs giving The Tyrant room to croon.
“Stronger Than You Know” opens with a few dive bombs as Jag Panzer up the ante with more furious speed and technicality. This kind of track feels more in line with the Euro power of bands like Primal Fear with the talk of strength and power; they don’t always lean super heavy into power metal, but this is a very tasteful version of doing that without being cheesy.
“Edge of a Knife” gallops into your subconscious telling tales of a potential snowy demise for the unfortunate ones, maintaining a midtempo pace throughout all while banding together with chanted lyrics about how even in troubled times you are able to remain true to your group and cause. “Dark Descent” is one of the most straightforward songs on The Hallowed. Furious speed takes control with backing vocals being shouted after guitar pyrotechnics finish as The Tyrant begins to soar above the band, making for a truly complete effort and one of the best introductions to the band.
Closing track “Last Rites” is a nearly ten minute piece, something the band hasn’t done since 2011’s The Scourge Of Light. It’s a slow burn of a track that becomes an epic with wonderful guitar work from Mark Briody and Ken Rodarte. Rikard Stjerquist’s drums mark a death march for the main characters before the guitar solo enters to anoint the fallen before the song’s last crescendo. As a concept record, The Hallowed reminds listeners exactly what the band is capable of more than 40 years into their career.
(released June 23, 2023 on Atomic Fire Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Listen To Jag Panzer – “Edge Of A Knife”