The world has changed a lot in the past 40 years. Empires rose and fell, cultural icons appeared and disappeared, music trends come and gone. The same is true for personal musical tastes. I’ve known people 20 years ago who grew out of metal as they say, or “evolved” musically.
There is a person who evolved as well this last 40 years without succumbing to trends, without looking for the ephemeral and forgettable success. The man who stayed true to the music and the people who are following him. That man is the Tyrant, and this is his story through his music.
The Early Years
Panos Anagnostopoulos: What was the band that made you want to start playing music?
Harry Conklin: KISS!!
P : Since you are childhood friends with most of your band mates do you recall them sharing the same influences as you?
H : Yes, Mark Briody and another best friend Mark Krabbenhoft were also into KISS.
P: How was the situation with heavy metal music in Colorado back then?
H: Non existent. There was tape trading and albums but radio was all pop…
P: It was 1983 when you first entered the studio to record Death Row single and the Jag Panzer debut EP. What do you recall from those days?
H: We were in our 20s when we wrote the songs for the demo. I was a hell raiser partying crazy man back then. I cared for no one but myself. The lyrics are an example of my own personal lifestyle.
Jag Panzer – Jag Panzer EP (Tyrants) (1983)
And suddenly it happened, appearing out of thin air. Metal was changing, evolving from the foundations laid by NWOBHM. The United States entered the world scene, with the thrashing metal, mainly in the general Bay Area and with power metal, nationwide. I find it fascinating that Queensryche’s S/T EP, Savatage’s Sirens and Jag Panzer’s Tyrants were all released in the same year and fall under the vague umbrella of USPM, setting the cornerstone for hundreds of bands that followed.
Following the one- track single Death Row, Tyrants is the 4 track EP which introduced Jag Panzer’s signature style to the world. Raw and relentless, the Tyrant’s voice and Mark Briody’s riffs are the first thing that catches your attention and the principles that the band’s career will be built upon.
Initially titled “Jag Panzer”, it was renamed to “Tyrants” for the reissue of Mausoleum Records in 1992, following the band’s first incarnation. The EP’s latest reissue by High Roller Records includes 2 demo songs and 5 unreleased tracks.
The speedy “Battlezones”, the classic “Death Raw”, my personal favorite “Metal Melts the Ice” and the epic “Iron Shadows” are songs that we consider them classics nowadays- and deservedly so, but back then, they served a different purpose: to prepare the world for what would come next.
P: Tell us about the time Azra records from California offered you a deal. How was releasing an album for the first time?
H: We were excited to be on a label and have a talented guitarist playing leads. Mark Briody and I poured our hearts out and it was cool to see many others agreed with us
P: And then the parent label of Azra, Iron Works, released the landmark Ample Destruction.
H: Yeah it was very cool and there was nothing like us out there at this time. Metallica and Overkill was starting to make a splash but it was difficult for us to make an impact on the scene.
Jag Panzer – Ample Destruction (1984)
They say don’t judge a book by its cover. They are wrong in this case. The 4 figures who ride in sunset wreaking havoc and destruction on their path, explains perfectly what this album is all about. When aliens will visit Earth and ask “ what is this metal music we’ve been hearing about”, this is the album that we should put on our record players to make them understand. This is the perfect album, the 10 out of 10, the one and only, Ample Destruction.
Explaining what this album is about, is pretty much like explaining what metal is about. Its passionate. Its savage. Its addictive. Its melodic. Its non stop riff after riff, filled with the screams and howls of a mad man, set on the path of total world annihilation. These are the anthems of the legions of hell that invade our world and set it ablaze.
The band caught the vibe of the american bands that began to spawn all over the country and managed to release an album that sort of “bridges” the ferocity of the speed/ thrash metal bands with the melodic NWOBHM bands from across the atlantic. Classic songs like “Harder than Steel”, “Licensed to Kill” and “Warfare” are only the tip of the metal iceberg that this album is. No fillers, no frills, just a pure classic metalog of the highest grade.
The only thing Ample Destruction lacked was promotion equal to the musical quality of the album, and as a result the band felt they did not receive an icing of the attention they deserved.
P:Then you recorded three demo tapes of which, one of them got released only 6 years ago as an album by High roller records.
H: Some songs took years to evolve. There were lineup changes that made an impact on the overall way JP sounded and until Mark, Joey, Rikard, John and I got back together writing.
P: How come this album was not released officially back then?
H: Not enough material and interest in the band at that time…
Jag Panzer – Shadow Thief
It seems crazy, right? How could anyone in their right mind listen to Ample Destruction and not immediately sign this band to a multi record deal? Shadow Thief was recorded between 1984 and 1986 and it remained shelved for 27 years, before High Roller Records managed to give this album a proper release.
As you will see in the next few scroll downs, Jag Panzer are famous for evolving and twisting their sound. Other bands would have exploited the “Ample Destruction sound” or copy themselves in an attempt to recreate their last album, but instead they decided to incorporate new elements to their music.
While in Ample Destruction the Tyrant stormed in and grabbed the microphone and demanded the audience’s attention, in Shadow Thief the microphone is instead handed to him, given that every single note written in this album is done so with his voice in mind. And Conklin seems to appreciate the gesture, and gives his up to that point some of the most melodic performances up to that point, namely “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind’ the ultra catchy chorus and the great power ballad “Take This Pain Away”, in which its the first time the Tyrant shows us how wonderfully he can use his ultra melodic and passionate voice, something that will play a huge role in Titan Force’s success, but more on that later.
“Lastful and Free” which kickstarts the album is a melodic speed metal anthem made by the same kind of steel of Ample Destruction, while the amazing banger “Viper” sounds like it was mistakenly packed here and not in Judas Priest’s Defenders of the Faith.
In the midst of bad record promotion and lack of proper marketing, the album got an independent cassette release, and Jag Panzer went on hiatus..
P. So which came first next? Was it Satan’s Host Metal from Hell or the Riot try out?
H: Metal From Hell
P: How did Satan’s Host came to be? What do you remember from those early days of the band?
H: Pat (Evil) was at many Jag Panzer shows and liked my voice. He and I got together and created greatness.
Satan’s Host – Metal From Hell (1986)
Can power metal sound evil? Metal from Hell was definitely one of the most wonderfully weird releases back in 1986. The best way to describe this album is a combination of Mercyful Fate and Hell’s aesthetics, combined with the aggressiveness and raw riffs of early Venom and Bathory. Harry Conklin embraced his identity of Leviathan Thisiren and gave a nightmarish performance of infernal proportions, howling, screaming and shouting like a proper metal madman. Its like someone unleashed his creativity and potential and the result is one of the most unique metal albums of any subgenre. The riffs skillfully ride the rail between razor cutting speed thrash to commanding and epic mid tempo melodies.
Side A of the album features classics like the facekicking “Black Stele” and the powered up speed metal of “Into the Veil”, as well as the title track which so perfectly represents the fusion between the multiple subgenres that Satan’s Host represent. The last track on this side is the psychopathic “King of Terror”, and by now the virgin listener will understand the reason for this article, the magnificent vocal capabilities of Mr. Conklin.
Adding to the elements of diversity of the album, the songs have a weird case of inconsistent mix and production and this is more evident on the second side of the album, however songs like “Hellfire” and “Souls in Exile” sound excellent in any mix.
This is the album I most often suggest to people when they ask me for something different, while staying within the comfort zone that provides a great classic metal release.
P: Then you teamed up with your touring partners-in-crime Titan Force and released two monumental albums after 2 demos. What do you recall from back then?
H: The Titan Force guys were also fans of Jag Panzer. They opened for JP many times. When I quit Satan’s Host and Jag Panzer had Chris Cronk in the band singing then I jumped at the chance to write with Titan Force, who have been loooong time friends.
Titan Force – Titan Force (1989)
Before I start this review, let me disclose something. In the classic conundrum of “Which X albums you would take to a desert island” this album always finds its way to my suitcase. Because the desert island albums are not about riffs or choruses or melodies. We evaluate differently. We use terms like emotions and time enduring and replayability. And this album simply has them all.
This album is when Harry Conklin proved once and for all that he deserved a place to the eternal pantheon of metal’s greatest vocalists. Τhe Tyrant overflows with passion, the guitar duo of Mario Flores and Bill Richardson delivers some of the most innovative leads and riffs ever while the galloping bass of John Flores gives the album its most progressive vibes, completed by Stefan Flores’s extremely creative and memorable drumming.
The songwriting is nothing short of excellent, filled with unexpected song progressions, ingenious songwriting and even an immaculate production, along with some of the most heartfelt lyrics that we’ve seen in metal of any subgenre. One of the greatest progressive US power metal albums that have ever been released, which serves as an excellent entry album to the subgenre.
The Nineties: Metal’s Lowest Point
Titan Force- Winner / Loser (1991)
Searching through the vast ocean of metal albums, it becomes harder and harder to find good sophomore albums. Our music is filled with one album wonders and follow up albums suffer from the syndrome of trying to surpass the debut album, and in a way, the band falls into a trap set by themselves. Luckily, Winner / Loser is a success story.
Following the same album-making recipe as the debut, the Tyrant’s voice sounds higher than anything still, though the album’s direction heads a bit more into the progressive and experimental, therefore you get less raw howls and more “sophisticated” singing style. Some samples were introduced as it was customary in many prog-power albums in the early 90s and the production is just a tad bit more polished, but the songwriting and the passion still there.
Just listen to all time classic songs like “Fields of Valor” and “Eyes of the Young,” and notice how masterfully Conklin controls his voice compared to his earlier releases. The riffs of Mario Flores and Bill Richardson tenderly encompass all the tracks, giving the songs a “space to breath”, something that is very distinctive in the album’s final composition “Dreamscape” where beautiful leads glue each verse together.
Titan Force bids us farewell with another masterpiece, an album that manages to shine despite the huge shadow cast upon it by the predecessor and is considered a must-have by all the fans of the subgenre.
P. You said on multiple occasions that as Titan Force you had material ready to release a third album. Was that the 1994 demo or there are other unrecorded songs? Any thoughts on releasing it now?
H: There are vocals demoed enough for a full release. Titan Force are awaiting drums then guitar to be added to the keeper tracks and then I will recut my vocals and add bass then mix/master then release. When, is based on all those factors.
P. How did the turn of the decade affect you personally and musically, given the fact that the classic 80s bands were getting out of fashion?
H: That genre will always be present in my mind. It has left an indelible imprint in my mind and for good reason. The melodic nature of the genre and it’s amazing songwriting.
Riot – The Tyrant Sessions Single (1992) / (2005)
Conklin’s first collaboration with Riot came around 1987 when he was invited for some tryouts and some shows with the New York powerhouse. The deal didn’t go on because of one of the worst managerial decisions ever made in heavy metal history, but a relationship with Mark Reale was formed, which led to the recording of two songs in 1992, which would not be released until 2005 with the title “The Tyrant Sessions”. Both songs would ultimately be re-recorded for Riot’s Nightbreaker album with Mike DiMeo on vocals.
Conklin sounds godlike in both “Medicine Man” and “Magic Maker” and it makes you wonder what could have happened if he had stayed in Riot back in 1987…
P. Was Riot a productive experience for you? In hindsight do you regret getting involved?
H: Mark Reale was my hero guitarist. He played with soul and his songwriting was fantastic. When he asked me to collaborate I was honored and as always gave my most to the songs. No regrets.
P: Then you released Midnight Wind with Satan’s host again before returning to Jag Panzer.
H: (Midnight Wind follows) the same pattern as “ Chain of Command” for Jag Panzer. No funding. No label.
Satan’s Host – Midnight Wind EP (1995)
Conklin puts once again the black satanic cloak of Leviathan Thisiren and along with his friend Patrick “Evil” Elkins released in 1995 the Midnight Wind EP, which was originally recorded in 1987 but wasn’t formally released due to the record company’s bankruptcy.
Midnight Wind consists of 4 new songs, along with “Black Sunday” – a (then) unreleased Jag Panzer song (which you can also find as a bonus track in Ample Destruction’s latest reissues) and a cover of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”. The songs follow the same chaotic evil alignment of the debut, as well as the same production issues.
Songwriting is great once again, especially in the case of the thrashy “Faces of Fire” and Manilla Road-ish “Witches Return.”
P:With your next career move, you returned to Jag Panzer and released The Fourth Judgement and The Age of Mastery under one of the biggest labels at that point (Century Media Records). You incorporated some new elements like the addition of violin and choirs. How do you remember that era?
H: There has always been large choral arrangements on most of my material. Jag Panzer has a little known secret: there is a gong sound on ALL of our releases. How epic is that!?!
The Return (1996) Demo and The Fourth Judgement (1997)
Following the departure of Harry Conklin and Joey Tafolla, Jag Panzer released Dissident Alliance in 1994, an album that left a lot to be desired. However, the Tyrant got back with the gang and they recorded a 3 demo cassette titled “The Return” in 1996 in Mark Briody’s words “just for fun”. The demo featured two new tracks, “Future Shock” and “Ready to Strike,” along with the previously recorded song “Shadow Thief.” Century Media, one of the largest labels at that point, got their hands on the demo and offered the band an album deal, resulting in The Fourth Judgement.
The album is now considered one of the classics, with songs like “Black” and “Despair” along with the 3 songs of the demo offering some of the best USPM of the stale 90’s decade. This time, Jag Panzer mix their music with some elements that we encounter more often in the European version of power metal, like more melodic choruses and guitar-work as well as some neoclassical elements mainly due to Joey Tafolla’s shdredding guitar style while Conklin sounds very fresh while maintaining his characteristic vocal style.
Jag Panzer will earn a touring spot supporting Gamma Ray, one of the biggest names of European power metal and Hammerfall who enjoyed worldwide acclaim following their debut album Glory to the Brave, but despite that, they will remain in the underground mainly because of the fast that mainstream metal at that time was (sadly) very different what Jag Panzer was offering.
The Age of Mastery (1998)
Jag Panzer returned the following year with “The Age of Mastery” with future Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick replacing Joey Tafolla once again under the banner of Century Media. Once again the album is very good but it feels a bit inconsistent within itself. Maybe because this is the first time that Jag Panzer released an album only within a year after their previous, maybe because they felt they were given a second chance and rushed to grab that opportunity or just maybe they felt for the first time that they gained momentum and wanted to invest on that.
While the first two tracks “Iron Eagle” and “Lustful and Free” are great and very consistent with the more melodic musical direction that The Fourth Judgement introduced. The rest of the songs, while not bad, they feel a bit out of place. Jag Panzer surely decided to try and sound more modern and the experiment sometimes succeeds and sometimes doesn’t. There are some great ideas in the album, like the anthemic chorus of “Chain of Command” or the melodic intro lead in the title track, but the standards that Jag Panzer set with their previous releases makes this release feel somewhat rushed. Mark Briody stated that, “Everyone was going to do whatever they wanted to do and add it to the record,” so maybe that’s the reason we talk about great ideas but lack of consistency.
The album was received with very positive reviews and the band once again had a big tour, this time with Iced Earth, one of the emerging leaders of the power metal scene at that time.
Turn of the Millennia: The Early 2000s
P: Thane to the Throne, which followed up, was your first concept album. How was that experience?
H: While Jag Panzer was on the road with Iced Earth, Rikard (Stjernquist, drummer) thought up the idea and challenged us to do a project like that. The main songwriters Mark Briody and Chris Broderick wrote a ton of emotional pieces and gave them to me to arrange according to the feeling of the play. It was a daunting task but we all think in the long run Thane to the Throne became an epic masterpiece
Thane to the Throne (2000)
Thane to the Throne tells the story of the Shakespearean play “Macbeth” in Jag Panzer’s first and only concept release. Mark Briody and Chris Broderick did a great job in writing the music and Harry Conklin did the same for lyrics that fit the adaptation of the Scottish play and provide an epic feeling throughout the album.
Musically, this is the album where Jag Panzer move towards a more modern direction and leave the ‘80s behind. The production is probably the best that the band had the chance to employ up to that time, which allows an extra layer of mythical aftertaste to be added.
“King at a Price” stands out as one of the best album songs with “Thane Of Cawdor” and “Three Voices Of Fate” coming close to the top. Conklin performed admirably and it proves once more that storytelling is his strong point.
P: Mechanized Warfare sort of combined elements from all your previous albums after 30 years of your career. Do you feel that by that point you redefined your sound compared to the 80s?
H: We have always just followed our hearts and how our experiences mold us and redefine us, apart from what we did on Thane to the Throne. We never really say the album will go this way or that. If it is reminiscent, then it is accidental
Mechanized Warfare (2001)
A year after the release of Thane to the Throne, Jag Panzer recorded their sixth album overall and the fourth straight album under Century Media. The band has evolved their compositions to sound more modern and more in sync with how power metal was played at the beginning of the 00s.
“Take to the Sky” is a great powerful opener that prologues the album and “Frozen in Fear” which follows is Brodderic’s time to shine. “Unworthy” and “The Scarlet Letter” are the albums highest points, with both songs considered to be classics today and performed regularly by the band live.
Overall a very solid album, with many memorable moments, though fans that are only familiar with the bands 80s releases will need some time to adapt, but it will totally pay off in the end.
P: Casting the Stones sounds more complicated compared to your earlier releases musically, though it has a back to the roots feeling probably because of the lyrics. What are your memoirs of that period?
H: My lyrics became more prolific and somewhat prophetic. I (we) had young children and that in itself can change your outlook on life. Casting was also rich in Chris Broderick’s songwriting and became a springboard for his career. Jag Panzer always pours their souls into everything we do.
Casting the Stones (2004)
It is mentioned a couple of times how Jag Panzer gradually evolved their sound through these 4 decades of their career and Casting the Stone marks one more shift in the musical direction. Around the time that Kamelot released Epica (2004) and Halo (2005), Lost Horizon had A Flame to the Ground (2003) and Symphony X put out Odyssey (2002), power metal was pretty much redefined from what we call USPM. Casting the Stones is release in the same musical spirit as the said albums and it’s a pretty good one as well, if you like the mid ‘00s PM style.
As Mark Briody will say, Casting the Stones is an “intense album” where heavy parts sound heavier and melodic parts more melodic. Harry Conklin has “modernized” his vocal approach, but still there are some moments like “Legion Immortal” where his style is reminiscent of his time in Titan Force. Broderick really shines in his parts and with a full resume will leave the band to join the powerhouse called Megadeth.
One of the highlights of the album is “The Mission,” a galloping, melodic anthem and a staple of Jag Panzer’s live setlist.
The Modern Era: 2010 and Onward
P: The Scourge of the Light feels like a continuation of the late 90s albums, a more melodic release. Was that intentional?
H: JP just writes from the heart. I know of no intention. You may have to ask Mark Briody. As far as I know we take it one step at a time.
The Scourge of the Light (2011)
After 7 years of inactivity, SPV’s sub-label Steamhammer signed Jag Panzer and the band took the chance and released The Scourge of the Light album in 2011. The times were a changin’ once more: YouTube was already the go-to place to discover traditional bands and consequently the interest in underground metal band was increased. Metal festivals like Keep it True and Up the Hammers which featured bands like Jag Panzer gained more popularity, and the so called NWOTHM scene was taking off. However, the other side of the coin was that the information overload caused a lot of good releases to go unnoticed. Despite receiving good press reviews, the band didn’t have the chance to tour for the promotion of the album. Mark Brtiody will even go on to say that if it wasn’t for Oliver (KIT) and Manolis (UTH) they band would have given up and call it a day.
The Scourge of the Light serves as a sequel to Casting the Stones in term of musical compositions, and dwells a bit further into the realms of prog-power. Christian Lasegue was chosen as a replacement for Broderick, and he does it very well , while Conklin, on his 27th year as a singer chooses a more balanced way to vocally approach the songs.
Intro song “Condemned to Fight” and Dio-esque “Call To Arms” are the best songs in an album that doesn’t really have a weak moment.
P: In the same year,Satan’s Host also released By the Hands of the Devil. This was your first album with Satan’s Host since 1986’s Metal from Hell. How did this reunion happen after so many years?
H: Joey jilted us again. I found out I was free to record w/other bands and not bound to Century Media exclusively. Oliver Weinsheimer (Keep it True) had an idea to do a “Metal from Hell“ reunion show. Pat agreed and had some material he wanted to add for the show. We kept writing and now I am recording and performing with multiple acts whom I have had many years experience with. Joyous!!
By the Hands of the Devil (2011)
For 25 years Leviathan Thisiren and Patrick Evil went on separate ways, with the latter continuing to release records under Satan’s Host moniker in the style of Black/Death Metal. Naturally, with the return of Conklin to the vocals, the band’s sound returned to the roots that they planted with Metal From Hell.
The album was received with very positive reviews and the style of the “satanic” ala Mercyful Fate heavy metal was becoming very relevant at the moment, especially with the release of Hell’s Human Remains only 10 days later.
Conklin sings like he was held hostage by Jag Panzer’s more progreesive releases, and once unleashed, screams and howls like a menacing hound, while Pat plays great black metal riffs, polished enough to fit the Tyrant’s voice.
The album is going very strong from the start to finish, with highlights “By the Hands of the Devil”, “Fallen Angel”, “Inferior Worlds” and “Before the Flame” shining their dark light brighter.
PS. The cover of The Beatles’s “Norwegian Wood is one of the weirdest and most entertaining metal covers of all time, be sure to check it out.
P: Your next step was Celebration and Virgin Sails again as Satan’s Host. Did you feel at that point that this was a permanent job with the band?
H: Celebration was the crossover album from Satan’s Host. Meaning I sang songs from past works with Eli Elixer.. We wanted to give the fans a taste of Satan’s Host history as seen through the voice of Leviathan Thesiren!
Celebration: For the Love of Satan (2011)
The return of Leviathan Thisiren got the band busy and the release of “By the Hands of the Devil” whet the bands appetite for more releases. To capitalize on the momentum they created, Satan’s Host released a compilation called “Celebration: For the Love of Satan” 6 months later, featuring renditions of songs from Metal from Hell and rerecordings of songs with the band’s previous singer Eli Elixer. The album also featured two new songs, “For the Love of Satan” and “Convictions”, which are of the same level, style and quality as the songs in By the Hands of the Devil. The song selection is very good, and the production is definitely better but I can’t help but feel that it took something from the magically raw release of Metal From Hell.
Virgin Sails (2013)
Virgin Sails came out 2 years after the reunion featuring all the members of the previous album once again. I remember that in 2011, people joked about the blackened power metal that Satan’s Host were playing, but Virgin Sails came with the realization that such a sub-genre actually exists, despite the fact that the band doesn’t adopt it. This album is darker, more sinister, more devious than its predecessor and, dare I say, better in terms of composition and overall feeling.
Conklin gives a grand performance even by his own superhuman standards, while the rest of the band sets a grim and unholy stage for him to perform. The lyrics have transformed from the ol’ ”oh, bless us mighty satan” to these infernal occult chants that directly puts you in some dark and barren setting.
It’s hard to pick a best song, but I will single out “Island of the Giant Ants” because everything i wrote about this album before, in this song we find them in abundance.
P: Predating God part 1 and 2 is your second “concept album” since it deals with the same concept. How did you came up with the idea?
H: Pat was the orchestrater of that album.
P: Part 1 one also features one cover to Grim Reaper. Are you a big fan of the band?
H: An old favorite of ours and a gift to the fans for such a fitting title. [Editor’s Note: They covered the infamous “See You in Hell”]
Predating God Part 1 and 2 (2015)
This is the moment of truth. Forget what the purist might tell you about Metal from Hell. This album (in two parts) is the best thing that Satan’s Host released. Ever. The unique sound of Satan’s Host that was invented by Patrick Evil’s and the demonic screams of Leviathan Thesiren is even more present here, with some additions of doomier riffs here and there.
The concept of the album is that humans creation and evolution was somewhat manipulated at some point in history, and all the songs revolve around that idea. The lyrical composition of the band matures with every release, dealing with darker and more complex matters.
Conklin wears the unholy goat-shaped mask of Leviathan Thesiren and again doesn’t refrain from growling and screaming when needed to create the perfect unholy atmosphere.
The first couple of tracks (“Hell’s Disciples,” “Embers of Will,” “Valley of Blood”) have this ultra-dark feeling and pick when Virgin Sails left off. “Predating God” is one of the best songs Satan’s Host ever written, and my favorite from part 1- I feel that Conklin can easily sing anything from prog rock to doom metal.
Moving on to the second part of the album, the songs become more complex both musically and lyrically, while they are still staying true to their melodic tunes, filled with double drum pedals and black metal blast beats.
“Fanning the Flames of Hell” is the speedy intro to the gates of hell while “Soul Wrent” sounds like an unreleased doom Mercyful Fate song. In ‘Descending in the Shadow of Osiris” Conklin confesses his admiration for Bruce Dickinson, which closes the album with probably the best song of both parts.
While part two has more engaging moments and it’s the better part overall, it wouldn’t work without part one setting the mood for a “Make Hell Great Again” masterpiece.
P: And then suddenly, you announce new live shows with Jag Panzer and you release Deviant Chord, an ultra melodic record similar to what we define as power metal here in Europe. Who would you cite as an influence at that point?
H: Why not? I am willing and ready to perform with more than one band if I can schedule it right.
The Deviant Chord (2017)
So here’s an unpopular opinion: The Deviant Chord is the best thing that Jag Panzer composed after The Fourth Judgement. I might like it because i consider Joey Tafolla one of the best solo guitarists around or because I have a soft spot for European power metal which this album has some correlation with.
Or, it is because Conklin experiments with high pitched vocals again in Jag Panzer album after quite some time. But instead of everyone else writing music that fits the Tyrant’s singing style, everyone does his thing: Mark riffs, Joey shreds, Rikard bombards and John holds the gang together.
Not a single song overstays its welcome, on the contrary, every song is as short or as long as it should be. “Born of the Flame”, “The Deviant Chord”, “Fire of our Spirits”, the ballad “Long Awaited Kiss” are all great songs and damn, it’s been a long time since I listened to a new power metal album that I can’t pick a favorite. The band even went on and recorded a cover to the Irish song “Foggy Dew” which is great that they did, because I just love Irish traditional songs but I would consider it the albums weaker moment, mainly because the song has a sense of patriotism and anti war sentiment that i just find it kinda weird being performed by a band like Jag Panzer.
So do yourself a favor, cast out your prejudice regarding traditional metal bands releasing new albums and give this great album a listen with a clear mind, and I am sure at least something will click for you.
P: How did The Three Tremors collaboration with Sean Peck and Tim “Ripper” Owens happen? How different was the experience recording an album like this compared to the rest?
H: Sean was standing in for WARRIOR at Keep It True Festival. We met in the airport on our way back to the States and he told me of this project he had in mind. I said, “Hell yes I’m in.” We exchanged contact info and stayed in touch. He sent me music and basic vocal guides and then the ball started rolling.
P: How was sharing the stage with Sean Peck and Tim Owens?
H: We ALL are metal fans and are selfless to a fault. 3 Tremors is more a brotherhood than 3 separate guys that have metal history in their belts. We get along famously.
The Three Tremors (2019)
Taken its name by a rumored project that was supposed to feature Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Geoff Tate, the Three Tremors instead formed by Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth), Sean Peck (Cage, Denner/Sherman) and Harry Conklin.
Ever since the album was released, I felt that this is this is the vocalist equivalent to a G3 tour (which featured some of the worlds greatest guitar virtuoso). Instead of solo after solo, were we have scream after scream. So it is easy to understand that this album, while it is a great idea, its target group is somewhat limited. The songs are written in a way that each vocalist will get the chance to perform his part and do his thing. The “Tremors” seem to be having a lot of fun and enjoy the process of performing together in this Judas Priest love letter album.
However The Three Tremors debut is not without its highlights and songs like “Wrath of Asgard” and “Sonic Suicide” stand out from the rest.
P: Any news on the long awaited Satan’s Host new album?
H: Laying down vocal tracks on “ This Legacy Will Never Die” album as we speak.
P: Among the numerous landmark albums that you recorded, what was the one that you felt that it will be your big breakout while you were writing it?
H: Every fucking one of them brother.
P: There is a tendency of newer bands playing in a traditional 80s style, while 80s bands tend to release their new albums with a more modern approach. What do you think is the reason for this?
H: Melody will never go out of style.
P: Have you seen any new bands that you felt they can be the next big thing?
H : I’m not at liberty to say. Too many to mention.
P: Final words to you Harry, thank you for the 38 years of great music.
H: You are VERY welcome and it’s not over yet. Just keep your ears and mind open.