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Panzerballett - Starke Stücke CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.11 | 58 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars A promo of the new Panzerballett album Starke Stücke came through my letterbox this morning and it hasn't been off my CD player since. Along with Paul Hanson's 'Frolic In The Land Of Plenty', Panzerballett's second album are my favourite jazz fusion releases heard so far in 2008.

But then Panzerballett plays music distinctly different from Paul Hanson's fusion. 'Metal fusion' would be a minimum definition, but that term misses so much. PB have moved to one of the big German jazz specialist labels ACT Records, (home of EST for instance) for their second studio album, and been encouraged to include some 'standards' and arrange these in PB's own style, along side their own compositions/arrangement. Album playtime is therefore shared approximately 50:50 originals to standards.

Their particualrly vigorous use of standards is rather inspired, as you have now a clearer view of where they have come from and where perhaps they are taking their form of metal jazz fusion. Two standards that have caught my ear, and so suffered repeat plays, are Henry Mancini's Pink Panther theme and Joe Zawinul's radio friendly Birdland. In a clever piece of thinking they have taken these two tunes, and deconstructed them. Birdland now consists of familiar phrases from the original tune, repeated several times played very heavily and then sometimes with a strong hint of math rock; (although in an odd way I also feel this tune is being played similiar to how Acoustic Ladyland might attack it, if that band cared to played thrash metal!) Btw it works very well asa start before they get round to their own improv. PB's scrubbed down Pink Panther now comes with a severe heavy and sharp edge, it too also works well; indeed you have to think twice that this came from a film score played by a studio orchestra. In addition, you will find other tunes have undergone a Panzerballett revamp, including those from the songbooks of Black Sabbath (Paranoid), Scorpions (Wind Of Change), AC/DC (Thunderstruck) and Deep Purple (Smoke On The Water- in a form that won't have you banned from the local guitar stores, if you could play it). In a delightfully perverse way, a couple of these tunes have been been arranged and played virtually in the absence of heaviness, instead becoming straight ahead electric jazz. One of Panzerballett's own compositions to catch my ears is Friede Freude & Fussball, which kicks off (a deliberate pun) with a simple theme based on the common football fans' chant heard at most stadia through Europe, Saturdays and Sundays, and then it builds!

An excellent album especially for those who like the heavy/metal end of jazz fusion. Further, an album which may provide the gateway for math rock fans who want to sample and then progress into jazz fusion.

4.5 stars - but definitely needs more time before I'm prepared to say this a 5 star essential album - but let me say four tracks are already I-Podded as favourite tunes.

Dick Heath | 4/5 |


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