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Jaguar: This Time (remaster)

Let's get something out in the open right away, This Time by British metal band Jaguar isn't really metal at all but rather a neutered attempt at AOR tinged rock that has all the slick production values of a Danger Danger record and about as much nastiness as you would find in the chorus of a Journey song. Yes, Jaguar include themselves in the "British New Wave of Heavy Metal," and to be fair, maybe that's where they started, but by 1984, their sound had transformed into something that resembled what would be played in a high school gymnasium. It certainly wasn't what appealed to your average metalhead, and the band got a hard dose of reality when their fan base all but deserted them upon release of this record. Matters might have been helped had the songs been highly memorable or catchy, but honestly, you finish listening to this record and not much sticks in your memory. Everything seems so pedestrian and that's a shame because the band obviously has talent. Paul Merrill's lead vocals are certainly emphasized. He does a nice job projecting his voice, which is clear and strong, but it doesn't hide the fact that songs like "Driftwood" and "Stranger" suffer from mediocre hooks. Another unfortunate aspect about this record is the drumming, which never sounds raw or inspired. Much of Chris Lovell's performance seems weak and robotic. Maybe it's the fault of the glossy production, maybe Chris' heart just wasn't into the new sound of the band, or perhaps it's simply the way the band wanted the tunes to sound, but for whatever reason, it's apparent that the songs sound a little stiff from a percussive standpoint. What's humorous is that Jaguar resisted being branded with a radio-friendly label like "AOR rock," so they took matters into their own hands and referred to their sound on This Time as "dance metal." Well… okay then.

In all honesty, any band must be given high marks for trying to reinvent their sound and continually striving to evolve. However, presenting such a shift in tone from a debut album to a sophomore release is probably not the wisest of options, especially when your fan base seemed quite enamored with what you were doing originally. If anything, call yourselves by another name and label it as a "side project." If you're familiar with Jaguar's first album, Power Games, liked it, and have been pondering whether to check out This Time, just be forewarned. It sounds nothing like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest and is more akin to something out of the early Bon Jovi catalog (pre-Slippery When Wet). The highest recommendation goes out to fans of synthesized, driving rock who still yearn for the production style of the 80's. Sonically, the music is tightly constructed (perhaps to a fault). There are some flashy guitar moments on tracks, such as "Another Lost Weekend" and "(Night Of) Long Shadows," but fans of straightforward metal or progressive rock should stay away, for the only thing that's musically progressive about Jaguar is their shift in sound and presentation from Power Games to This Time.

Track Listing
1. This Time
2. Last Flight
3. A Taste Of Freedom
4. Another Lost Weekend
5. Stand Up (Tumble Down)
6. Sleepwalker
7. Tear The Shackles Down
8. Stranger
9. Driftwood
10. (Nights Of) Long Shadows

Added: March 17th 2009
Reviewer: Keith Schwier
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2433
Language: english

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