Condemned to Fight
When listening to a Jag Panzer album, you know immediately what you're in for. This band has been blending the hard-hitting sound of the NWoBHM with the beauty of melodic power metal for almost 30 years now, and their long-awaited 9th full-length studio album, The Scourge of the Light, continues in this fashion. Although sticking to this sound definitely confines Jag Panzer's sound to a somewhat small scope, few bands tend to their dedicated fanbase as well as these American lads have been doing since their iconic debut album back in 1984. Jag Panzer has been consistently delivering high-quality power metal for so long that it's hard to criticize them for not revolutionizing the genre each time around. Fans of Jag Panzer will love The Scourge of the Light for sure, but don't expect any new ground to be broken in the process.
The music here shows distinct influences from the NWoBHM (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc.), European power metal (Helloween, Blind Guardian), and touches of American power metal (Iced Earth and Savatage). As such, this is nothing new for Jag Panzer, or the genre in general, but they deliver their music so professionally that it seems a bit nitpicky to criticize their somewhat derivative approach. The Scourge of the Light is filled with enough melodic hooks, captivating compositions, and breathtaking guitar solos to keep my attention for many spins. My biggest knock (aside from the lack of innovation) is that a few compositions are missing a bit of the power needed to fully immerse me, but excellent songs like "Condemned to Fight" and "The Book of Kells" make up for any dull moments in the end. Of course, the musicianship from all aspects is excellent.
One thing that really took me by surprise on The Scourge of the Light is that it was produced by Jim Morris of Morrisound Studios, but that's obviously a positive surprise. He's an excellent producer, and the sound here is unbeatable.
The Scourge of the Light isn't a revolutionary album or the best thing Jag Panzer has ever done, but it further secures the band's place as one of the most consistent and ready-to-deliver bands in the power metal genre. A few more memorable compositions and a more innovative approach would've impressed me a bit more, but as the entire album is of high quality, 3.5 stars are well deserved. Now that the seven year wait is over, it's safe to say that Jag Panzer are back and still a force to be reckoned with in the power metal scene! Fans of the genre definitely won't want to miss out on yet another gem by this amazingly consistent act.
01. Condemned To Fight
02. The Setting Of The Sun
03. Bringing On The End
04. Call To Arms
07. Let It Out
10. The Book Of Kells