HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

JAG PANZER
The Scourge Of The Light
SPV

First record in seven years, with Chris Broderick famously decamping for Megadeth, ushering the return of Christian Lasegue, guitarist for the band in the latter '80s. Unfortunately for those who like to see growth through the passage of so much time, it ain't here, Jag Panzer turning in a pummeling, rhythmic record of completely expected signature power metal of the epic and true metal headbanging sort American bands deal in, versus the keyboard priss of the European variety. On the positive, the album is a clinic with respect to old school metal vocals, two guitars and what they can inform each other, and finally double bass work and its relationship to tom patterns and cymbal splashes, the inventive presentation of Rikard Stjernquist often overwhelming the tracks. Or rather, take a song like 'Union' and it almost sounds like it's written with continual stop/starts (fillable by drum breaks), firmly in mind. And I guess that's my nagging background dissatisfaction identified: very little flows here (exception 'Burn'), the constant stammered jack-hammering of the thing causing lack of memorable hooks, Jag Panzer sounding epic all the time, like a fancier version of Manowar but with the same lack of huggability.
Rating 6

VICIOUS RUMORS
Razorback Killers
SPV

First album in five years for Geoff Thorpe and his San Francisco solid metal troupe finds the band sticking to their grim and resolute metal munch. Gone is journeyman James Rivera from '06's Warball, replaced by Brian Allen, who is yer perfect match if old school American power metal be the game. Ripper Owens is an apt comparative, as Allen growls and howls in equal parts, also recalling Rob Halford in belligerent Painkiller mode. Musically, what you get is middling Metal Church, Anvil and Anthrax up toward Testament, lots of chugging, lots of throwing metal looks, lots of uneasiness from this camp that it ain't the kind of old school I can take seriously, the original definition of power metal, namely US grade from the mid to late '80s, lacking the tongue-in-cheek aspect of Euro power metal or the melody of the NWOBHM. It's transmission shops to New Jersey strip malls, cinder block construction to throwing boxes around in a warehouse. Heck knows what any of that means; all I know is this sounds like headbanging as work and not play, made all the harder on the ears through clacky bass, too much mids and drums drenched in reverb.
Rating 6

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