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Panzerballett - Starke Stücke CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.11 | 58 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars My buddy Martin (Alucard) had warned me of this band a while go, but I must say that I didn't have a chance to investigate PB before, and early this year, I held off until this month of September, because I knew I would see them on the 4th RIO festival in Carmaux. Having seen the concert, I bought their second album immediately after the show. This strange mixture of jazz and metal music is the brainchild of guitarist Jan Zehrfeld, and the results are surprising enough, even though in concert, it came as completely similar to what I expected, although I had never heard a note (at least knowingly) from the band. The two guitar and sax attack is rather predictable once you've actually understood where the band is heading into, especially when the bass gets funky ala Living Colours.

This first album is definitely a first attempt, and is made almost entirely of covers adapted to the then-tentative sound of PB, if you'll except two or three tracks. Among the covers are such diverse songs, as far apart as possible, ranging from the Pink Panther theme and Birdland (the WR hit track) all the way to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Purple and Scorpions hits. You'll have a hard time recognizing the Pink Panther theme from the original, and indeed sometimes you'll get a piece of the theme to link the Zappa-meets metal lunacy of the adaptation. While the covers are relatively unrecognizable outside the main themes, it still is rather interesting to hear their musical lunacy. They tend to soften (read jazzify) the metal tracks like Winds Of Change, and harden (read metalize) the jazz tracks such as Birdland.

As for the original compositions, they rank from RIO/Avant realm (somewhere between Zappa, 90's Crimson and some 00's Californian prog/Cuneiform groups) to more metallic moments ala Sepultura, RATM and RCHP with some light cookie-monster barfs here and there. Generally it simply sounds way too complex, as if they chose to complicate things for the sake of being difficult to permeate. At times, the music can be fun, but, ultimately, the sheer repetitions of ultra-complex movements are saturating even the experienced ears. Overall, I tend to prefer the group's original composition to the treatment of the covers they chose to metamorphose. Maybe PB's merits lies in the fact that they could lead quite a few metalheads into getting acquainted with jazz idiosyncrasies (but most likely it will be a one- way street), and that attempt alone is very laudable, despite being a tad too obvious for my liking.

While PB's music is certainly one of kind and doesn't really resemble anything you've heard elsewhere, I can't say that I'm overwhelmed by the "formula", because that's pretty well what it sounds like? A chemical formula of a recipe, one that isn't immediately digestible by this aural stomach of mine, one that seems created from apparently un- mixable ingredients, and these don't actually mesh or melt into each other very well, if at all. In concert (at least the one I saw), the group constantly changes from the metal realm to the jazz idiom, but fairly rare are the actual harmonically successful meetings between the two opposite ends of their musical spectrum. And this first attempt does only confirm what I saw in concert. While musically impressive and definitely worth the investigation, I remain unconvinced and, to be honest, a bit under-whelmed.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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