There is a very simple and obvious answer to the question “which are the most underrated bands in the heavy metal universe”. Riot and Jag Panzer of course. Bands that could easily be a part of the major league but for reasons unexplained didn’t reach the deserved status. At least artistically-wise they remain at the very top and every new album is a milestone for our beloved music. After several years of anticipation, Jag Panzer returns with the successor of the superb The Scourge of the Light and curiosity reaches critical levels. Let’s see what the team of Briody, Conklin, Tetley, Stjernquist and Tafolla (together in a studio album after 20 years and the Fourth Judgement opus) holds for us.
It only takes moments to spot the links to its predecessor, a positive thing nevertheless. Tyrant kicks off with reins on the opener Born of the flame but it doesn’t take long before he unleashes his full potential through his trademark singing and multi layered vocals that have branded the band’s style since its reanimation in the 90s. Tafolla is shredding out of control and his dazzling solos remain faithful to the Fourth Judgement aesthetics. The credit for The Deviant Chord though must be attributed to the mastermind, the driving force of the Jag Panzer machine, Mark Briody. The result has contributions from all the members but Briody erected the backbone of yet another classic Panzer creation. He crafted the painting and then handed it over to his excellent team for the crucial finishing touches. The album is tight, perfectly balanced in terms of intensity and atmosphere, with the ideal duration and without any sagging at all which is the curse of many releases from bands of the same caliber.
Heavy Metal is in desperate need of bands that don’t copy and don’t recycle. It is in need of leaders. It needs The Deviant Chord as much as it needs its successor, hopefully in a reasonable amount of time. Jag Panzer did its part. Now is the time for the fans to act accordingly.