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Jag Panzer: Casting The Stones (Century Media, 2004) reviewed by: Vinaya

Track Listing
1. Feast Or Famine
2. The Mission (1943)
3. Vigilant
4. Achilles
5. Temptest
6. Legion Immortal
7. Battered & Bruised
8. Cold
9. Starlight's Fury
10. The Harkening
11. Precipice
Jag Panzer fans have had it pretty good lately. Hot on the heels of the long awaited official release of their Chain Of Command album comes this, their latest aural offering. And for those who head-banged happily to the band’s last few releases, Casting The Stones will not disappoint.

Like the band’s namesake, Jag Panzer’s latest is dark, heavy and imposing. The production rumbles proudly with hi-fidelity power, and the band’s performance is as passionate and intense as ever, if a bit over the top. Opening cut “Feast or Famine” sets the stage for this diverse, but traditional metal record, and things get better with “The Mission (1941),” an engaging World War II story in heavy metal form. (Note: To learn more about the song’s subject matter, check out the 1961 film “The Guns Of Navarone,” based on an Alistair MacLean novel). From there on, things really take off, and this time out, the band actually manages to modernize their sound somewhat (mainly through state-of-the-art production and judicious use of detuned guitars), without ever bringing the word “sellout” to mind. And as guitarist/composer Mark Briody stated online not long ago, Casting The Stones has more than its share of harmonized guitar parts, something always welcomed with open arms by a Thin Lizzy nut like me.

Admittedly, however, I wasn’t immediately taken with Casting The Stones, and to a certain degree, I still find the band’s use of chugging staccato riffs and vocal melodrama a bit excessive. And as talented as he is, lead guitarist Chris Broderick really overdoes it with the flashy, sweep-picked solos in some places, although when he is on, he nonetheless makes a brilliant contribution to the songs. On the upside, this is one of those albums that get better with repeated listens. The rich production is loaded with subtle surprises (keyboards, acoustic guitar, strings, etc) that listeners might miss at first, bombarded as they are with thunderous riffs. And there is no shortage of standout tracks. “Achilles” is a memorable metal anthem launched by soaring harmony guitars. “Precipice” is an epic tour de force that manages to incorporate sitar, acoustic guitar, and a gong; and how can you go wrong with a combination like that?! And I dare say, “Cold” would be a sure-fire radio hit if only it had Ozzy Osbourne’s hype-garnering name to it. (Fancy a duet, anyone?)

Casting The Stones may not be the album to make Jag Panzer America’s latest media darlings (unless, perhaps, they score the Ozzy vocal duet I alluded to), but it will go a long way towards earning the band increased respect among hard music fans, which I suspect is more along the lines of what the band wants anyway.

Useful factual note: “The Mission (1941)” and “Starlight’s Fury” feature backing vocals by Chain Of Command-era vocalist Bob Parduba.

Mostly useless personal note: The intro to “Feast or Famine” sounds uncannily similar to a song from one of my favorite metal records of all time, Hazzard’s self-titled debut from 1984, and specifically the song “Killer.” What the hell’s that supposed to mean?!? Heck, even I can’t say for sure.

Rating: 8



--Vinaya 09.27.04
About this Writer:
Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: JAG PANZER
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Ample DestructionJag Panzer
1984
Eric Compton5/1/2004
Casting The StonesJag Panzer
2004
Vinaya Saksena9/27/2004
Chain Of CommandJag Panzer
2004
Vinaya Saksena9/15/2004
Scourge Of The LightJag Panzer
2011
Eric Compton2/2/2011


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: JAG PANZER
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
The Deviant ChordJag Panzer
2017
Eric Compton10/5/2017


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: JAG PANZER
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
Jag PanzerJag PanzerChris Galea3/15/2006
Mark BriodyJag PanzerEric Compton9/27/2004


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