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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Reviews: Jag Panzer, Vandenberg's Moonkings, Air Raid, Wild Lies (Review By Paul)

Jag Panzer: The Deviant Chord (SPV/Steamhammer)

Album no 10 from Colorado Springs power metal outfit Jag Panzer, who’ve been around in some shape or form for over three decades. In fact, their origins can be traced to 1981. The current line-up contains three of the band that were there at the beginning, vocalist Harry Conklin, Mark Briody (rhythm guitar and keyboards) and bassist John Tetley. It’s reasonably entertaining if a little one dimensional, although dated in feel and sound. That’s until you get to Foggy Dew. Yes, the Irish folk song and lament which chronicles the Easter Uprising of 1916 and which Sinead O’Connor and The Chieftains, Shane McGowan, The Dubliners and just about everyone in Ireland has covered. I just can’t work out if this good, bad or brilliant. No such problem with Salacious Behaviour, one of the best/worst power metal tracks I’ve heard for years. Conklin’s voice isn’t the best although he hits a reasonable number of the high notes, whilst the band are tight. Long Awaited Kiss is just bollocks though. 6/10

Vandenberg’s Moonkings: Mk II (Mascot Records)

Three years since the imaginatively titled Moonkings comes the even more creatively named Mk II. Featuring the exceptional guitar work of Adrian Vandenberg and the same personnel as 2014’s release, Mk II follows on where the debut left off. More middle of the road hard rock, filled with the expected lyrical content. Jan Hoving continues to hit the notes that Coverdale no longer can, to the extent that at times you must check you are not listening to 1987 Whitesnake. The comparisons with Coverdale’s mob are impossible to avoid. It’s another highly refined piece of work, but it’s all been done so many times before. Tracks like What Doesn’t Kill You, Love Runs Out and If You Can’t Handle The Heat are pedestrian and with all the lyrical charm from three decades ago. Vandenberg is a superb guitarist and shines throughout but this album isn’t anything to get over excited about unless you love your cock rock. 7/10

Air Raid: Across The Line (High Roller Records)

For a band who only formed in 2009, Gothenburg’s Air Raid have focused their sound firmly in the 1980s. Traditional heavy metal, sitting squarely in the NWOBHM category, Across The Line is an album that will either get you excited or leave you wondering what the fuss was about. The band have a duel guitar approach ala Maiden, Saxon and about a million others at the time. Yep, it’s harmonies all the way and it’s decent stuff. The re-recorded A Blade In The Dark contains a galloping Maiden feel which whilst nothing new, makes you smile with guitarists Andreas Johansson and Magnus Mild giving it their all as they swap solos and riffs. Vocalist Fedrik Werner who only joined the band this year has a touch of Demon’s Dave Hill about his vocals which I really appreciate. Elsewhere, opener Hold The Flame, Hell And Back and Black Flame all follow the blueprint. It’s tried, tested and perfectly good heavy metal. 7/10

Wild Lies: Prison Of Sins (Wild Recordings)

Wycombe isn’t usually regarded as a hard rock outpost but Prison Of Sins, the debut release from quintet Wild Lies may help to change that. Full of hard-edged anthemic songs with a huge sound, oozing with melody and radio friendly hooks, the band display an impressive confidence. Matt Polley’s clean powerful vocals certainly have echoes of Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and that is exactly the sound that springs to mind if you are searching for comparisons. Opener Voices sets the scene, pacey and stuffed full of chunky riffs, whilst Heart Cry contains elements of Metallica, AX7 and Sixx AM. Yes, the band are aiming high, with a stadium sound that is enhanced by an excellent production. Inner Lizard varies the style, hints of Shinedown and Alter Bridge on this one with the band maintaining the arena rock volume. Meanwhile Save Your Breath just demands your attention. Prison Of Sins is a superb debut, not a ballad in sight and an album which is well worth checking out. 8/10

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