The Deviant Chord
Born in Colorado in the early eighties, Jag Panzer was the product of the NWOBHM and are considered one of the original Power Metal bands in the United States. They have been through many changes throughout the decades but, despite that, they have remained one of the most consistent sounding bands in the entire realm of Metal music. Their grand return, The Deviant Chord, is a monster of a record and it comes on the smoldering heels of what fans had assumed was the end of the band. Much like Iced Earth, U.D.O., and Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer just doesn’t seem to age.
The Deviant Chord picks up right where 2011’s The Scourge of Light left off. It kicks off with “Born of the Flame,” a dual guitar anthem that is steeped in the bands NWOBHM influences. Admittedly, the song takes a verse to get going but by the time you hit the end of the first chorus it’s a steamroller of lead guitars and harmonic background vocals. The band keep it up with songs like “Fire of Our Spirit” and “Far Beyond All Fear,” both of which are anthemic Power Metal fanfare, just the way Jag Panzer fans like it!
The band wisely keep the album from getting stale with a couple of tracks that break from the norm. The heavy, stuttering metal music and soaring, almost operatic, vocals of the title track are a good example of this. Unlike the band’s more uptempo numbers, this one is an epic journey that swells musically in the middle. It’s laden with haunting vocals, Dickinson style howling choruses, and well….deviant sounding chords! “Long Awaited Kiss” is another such moment, landing somewhere between power ballad and medieval sounding fanfare. The lead guitar work on this song is absolutely fantastic, perfectly balancing skill and emotion.
Overall, this is another great album from Jag Panzer. This band has never really risen to the upper echelon of Metal bands and it’s a crying shame. For those in the know, The Deviant Chord is the real deal and you are definitely gonna dig it. If you enjoy NWOBHM and Power Metal bands and you haven’t checked out Jag Panzer then this is a good place to start, they are still at the top of their game.
Reviewed by mark1340
First Things First
Loud & Proud Records
R & B singer, and former member of Prince’s New Power Generation, Liv Warfield and Heart’s Nancy Wilson have joined forces in Roadcase Royale. Don’t let the supergroup moniker fool you though, this band sound like exactly that….a band. With two powerhouse vocalists in tow, I really expected the album to sound like a bit of a battle in that respect. In reality, what you get are two completely different voices that compliment each other brilliantly. There are quite a few highlights here and with a pedigree like this band has, avoiding pitfalls is probably relatively easily.
“Cover Each Other” is easily THE singular highlight for me, featuring smooth, yet soulful guitars, and heartfelt vocals with just a smattering of piano. Warfield’s voice is at it’s absolute best here. It sounds deep and commanding, yet still feminine enough that it doesn’t steamroll you like a man’s voice might. I just can’t get enough of this song. The live recording of “Mind Your Business” is soulful and funky, yet still really accessible. Even though this is far from my favorite style of music, it digs deep and makes it impossible for you not to bob your head along.
“Hold On To My Hand” adds a little bit of Gospel idealism to the mix and serves to remind the listener that there are many dimensions to Roadcase Royale. I’d be negligent not to also mention Heart’s megahit (and Nancy’s calling card) “These Dreams.” This song in any form is soul-shatteringly brilliant and it fits well here in it’s acoustic version.
Overall, this is a fascinating album. It took a few spins to really sink in. Once it gets it’s teeth in you though, it simply doesn’t let go. It’s got a subtle brilliance that will appeal to wide array of music lovers. If you love soulful, thoughtful, authentic, and genuinely musical songs then don’t miss out on Roadcase Royale’s debut album, First Things First.
Reviewed by mark1340
Through Worlds of Stardust
So let me take you back to a time when Glam Rock bands were making excellent music that people were disregarding because of their haircuts and ball-buldging pants. Bands like Kingdome Come, Steelheart, Thunder, and pre- The Final Countdown Europe were the very direct descendants of Led Zeppelin and they played their parts really, really well. Enter 2017 and Steelheart proves that they should still be viewed with that kind of regard. Through Worlds of Stardust is a firm reminder that Steelheart was much more of a Rock band than a big ballad machine, despite being known for the latter.
Through Worlds of Stardust is a Rock and Roll album through and through. One listen to the twisted, psychedelic guitar work and sultry vocals of “Stream Line Savings” and you’ll be hooked. The band tear it up from start to finish, taking no prisoners right from the get go. “Come Inside” is another big, ballsy anthem with wicked guitar tones and soloing (as well as classic double entendre!). “Got Me Running” has a bit more of a contemporary sound in that it sounds a bit more textured musically, employing a big hook chorus to work alongside moodier sounding verses.
But where are the big ballads like the one that made them famous?! Have they turned their back on that era? Nope. There are a few of them here (after all they couldn’t leave your girlfriend hanging, right?!). “With Love We Live Again” stands out from the norm here for it’s orchestration and it’s country-tinged beginnings. It’s coupled with the mid-tempo ballad “Lips of Rain,” which isn’t the album’s best moment in my opinion but it’s closer to what you’ll remember from the radio hits of yesteryear. The piano ballad “I’m So In Love With You” takes the album out in low-key fashion and it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s simple piano and vocal approach is very intimate and it lets the vocals really shine.
If you dig bands like Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake (1986 and on), The Quill, Scorpion Child, and early 2000’s Enuff Z’Nuff then you’ll certainly find a lot to connect with on Through Worlds of Stardust. This is a great Rock and Roll album that hits all the right high notes and plays like a champion from start to finish.
Reviewed by mark1340
Release Date: October 13, 2017
So, I will freely admit that when Fozzy made their debut, I was pretty sure it was a joke. I was more than a little sad that Rich Ward was involved. The band persisted though and damn if they didn’t turn out to be a really good band. Chris Jericho has become an excellent vocalist and there is no denying that the songs are catchy as hell at this point. That’s all not to distract from the fact that they can deliver the goods live. Judas, the band’s sixth album, continues in the vein of modern hard music (think Disturbed, All That Remains, and Sevendust) that the band started to move towards on Sin and Bones.
Like all good albums, the tracklist here is pretty much exactly right. Judas plays like a full-length record that is meant to take you on an emotional journey, an idea sadly lost on many artists/producers/labels these days. The band put their best foot forward by giving us the title track first. “Judas” is a big arena rocker with just enough of a hint of Stuck Mojo’s bounce to make old school fans smile. The bounce is driven along by Jericho’s spot on vocals, cementing the idea that he is the real deal. Everything about this song makes you want to raise your fist and bob your head along (even if you are in your car driving down the interstate and people gawk at you while passing….not that I would know, I’m just assuming).
“Painless” is another highlight in my opinion. It’s a little darker than most of the album but it’s dark atmosphere and down tempo feel make the chorus really, really shine. Jericho’s voice soars over top of the pummeling rhythm section. Oddly, they manage to make the song feel more like thankfulness than lament. “Burn Me Out” brings some disco rhythms to the party and, for a moment, allows the electronics to share the stage more prominently. It’s a very radio-oriented song but it’s also really excellent. “Weight of the World” is similar in style, but it doesn’t quite get to the top of the mountain like “Burn Me Out” does. If that’s not your thing, Fozzy give you a straight up metal tune, “Wolves At Bay” to make up for it.
Overall, it’s really impressive just how much this band has evolved over the years. Judas isn’t a perfect album, but the band manage to perfect their niche while, at the same time, taking enough risks to keep their sound from getting stale. If you have enjoyed their last few albums, you will certainly like this one. Also, if you listen to rock radio regularly then you should get out there and buy this album because you’ll love it.
Reviewed by mark1340
I Am Growing, Honestly
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Hailing from the “lower regions” of Texas, Sine Cura are making their debut with this independently produced EP. I’m seriously starting to believe that there is something in the water in Texas because pretty much every band that comes from there, no matter the style of music, are excellent. It’s sort of the Canada of the United States. I Am Growing, Honestly is a fascinating EP full of Emo-tinged Alt-Rock with a Pop goodness that pretty much makes it impossible to not enjoy.
The EP is mostly full of the energetic, up-tempo Rock of “Drive,” “Pressing Flowers,” and “Growing Pains.” They come complete with catchy choruses, bouncy rhythms, and jangly melodies that make you want to bob your head and scream along. The more exploratory “Headache Remedy” and “La Luna” helps the EP to shine the spotlight in a different direction. They have a deeply intimate feel that really speaks to me and firmly reminds me that Emo in the right hands can still be great. I absolutely love these two songs.
If you are a fan of bands like Smoking Popes, Newfound Glory, Further Seems Forever, or The Maine then you should definitely check out what Sine Cura has to offer. I Am Growing, Honestly is an EP that is well worth your time and I am looking forward to hearing what this band has to offer in the future.
Reviewed by mark1340