USPM from Colorado
Look around. There’s nothing else here. This is it – the peak. Ample Destruction is perhaps the most apt album title of all time. Forty-minutes of unrelenting and pure metal that exemplifies what power is supposed to mean. With their debut album, Jag Panzer effectively defined an entire genre and regional scene. Ample Destruction is the quintessential United States power metal album. When introducing people to the style, this is always my go-to album. It captures the very essence of the movement like no other.
The first time I heard Ample Destruction I was barely 14. I felt like I got punched squarely in the jaw. This isn’t what power metal was supposed to sound like – where were the keyboards and layered choruses? I didn’t understand what I had gotten myself into at the time, but I was totally enthralled. This started my true obsession with the old-school metal sound. Jag Panzer sounded so familiar, but there was just something extra here.
Ample Destruction’s sound is deeply rooted in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), with some similarities to bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Tank, yet it is entirely its own animal. Jag Panzer took the NWOBHM and added their flair to it. There is hell of a lot more bite here. The riffs are aggressive and they never let up. Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin’s vocals are massive and powerful. United States power metal represented an evolutionary step and reaction to the NWOBHM. The base and foundation are very much the same, but everything is exaggerated and taken to the next level. Some bands were more progressive, some opted for bigger vocals with catchy choruses, and Jag Panzer went for simple, cutthroat aggression.
Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin receives regular accolades for his mighty performance on this album and rightfully so. Conklin’s vocals are some of the absolute best around. His midrange is powerful and emphatic with plenty of soaring highs to compliment them. The Tyrant has drawn some comparisons to Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden due to the similarities in their voices, but that is honestly an injustice for Conklin. Dickinson is a legend in his own right, but doesn’t hold a candle to the prowess of The Tyrant.
Ample Destruction is filled to the absolute brim with killer riff after killer riff. It’s difficult to pick out a highlight track as they all flow together in one, singular metalstorm. There is very few moments for reprieve as Jag Panzer keep it at 100% for nearly the entire album. The guitars, played by Joe Tafolla and Mark Briody, are masterful and a worthy match for Conklin’s performance. The bass, as became standard for most US power metal, is very prominent in the mix. John Tetley’s bass guitar works to compliment the guitars and drummer Rick Hilyard is certainly no slouch as his drums round it all out. The production is thick and undoubtedly old-school sounding. It does a wonderful job bringing together the instrumentation while letting Conklin take the lead with his soaring vocals.
There’s nothing pretty about this album. It’s bare bones, in-your-face, balls-to-the-wall power metal that operates at maximum efficiency. That’s where its beauty lies. It is the very antithesis to the current direction of mainstream power metal. This album destroys virtually everything else out there and that is unlikely to change any time soon. The classic of classics.
Album Rating: 100/100
Favorite Track: Harder than Steel