Despite having been away for six years, Jag Panzer still displays their signature trademarks on The Deviant Chord. There’s a lot more shredding in the solos and lead guitar thanks to Joey Tafolla making his first appearance with the band since 1997’s The Fourth Judgement, but the songs continue to be driven by soaring vocals, pounding double bass drums, melodic guitar and bass work, and a striking balance between neo-classical theatrics and good old fashioned American balls.
The songs also showcase the different sides of the band’s sound and add up to what may be the most varied album in a near forty year history. “Born of the Flame” and “Far Beyond all Fear” start the album off with a one-two punch of speed metal, “Divine Intervention” and “Dare” are singalong anthems, the title track aims for a more dynamic feel, and “Foggy Dew” is a folk dabbling that seemingly seeks to be the power metal answer to Thin Lizzy’s take on “Whiskey in the Jar.”
Of course, there are a couple tracks that aren’t quite as effective. “Long Awaited Kiss” is a serviceable power ballad, but the time it spends lingering on the chorus brings to mind the similarly bloated climax of Judas Priest’s “Last Rose of Summer.” I also can’t tell if the mid-tempo pounder “Blacklist” has lyrics that are too aggressive for the music or if the music isn’t aggressive enough for the lyrics. It’s still a good song either way but I can’t help but feel like it could’ve been a more savage display in the vein of something from the Ample Destruction years.
Overall, The Deviant Chord isn’t as glorious a comeback as The Scourge of the Light was in 2011 but it does make for an enjoyable follow-up for Jag Panzer fans. While I may have my minor nitpicks, the songwriting never feels phoned in and the performances on the faster songs are enough to prove that the band has the stamina and chemistry to keep up with their younger peers in the power metal scene. Hopefully they’re here to stay and continue to prove why they deserve their status as American metal legends.
“Born of the Flame”
“Far Beyond All Fear”
“Fire of Our Spirit”