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Panzerballett - 2014 - "Breaking Brain"

(55:24, Gentle Art of Music Records)


1.  Euroblast 7:10
2.  Typewriter II 6:11
3.  Der Saxdiktator 8:41
4.  Mahna Mahna 2:37
5.  Smoochy Borg Funk 6:12
6.  FrantiK Nervesaw Massacre 7:42
7.  Shunyai Intro 2:05
8.  Shunyai 8:26
9.  Pink Panther 6:20


Jan Zehrfeld  guitars 
Josef Doblhofer  guitars 
Alexander von Hagke  saxophone 
Sebastian Lanser  drums 
Heiko Jung  bass 
Trilok Gurtu  percussion 

Prolusion. The German band PANZERBALLETT can trace their history back to 2004, and from 2006 and onward they have released new material on a fairly regular basis, in addition to being an active live unit. So far five studio albums have been released by the band. "Breaking Brains" is the most recent of those, and was released through the German label Gentle Art of Music in the late fall of 2015.

Analysis. When invited to a panzerballet, expect some rather unpredictable movements. The name of this band does indeed indicate that their chosen style of music is one that is rather unconventional, and, at least for me, the image of a collection of massive Panzer style tanks attempting to take on the elegant movements needed in a ballet performance fits the music explored on this album quite nicely. This band's specialty is to blend jazz-rock, avant-garde prog and metal. Not in an equal blend that incorporates certain details from one and the other into an amalgam explored and expanded upon in depth and details, but rather to explore those types of music in various blends and incarnations in each and every composition. Needless to say, perhaps, but one aspect of this band is that their compositions tend to be quite challenging and demanding experiences, featuring multiple developments and a steady movement towards new ground as a constant companion. In full metal guise the band is precise but tight, with controlled dramatic guitar riffs, mostly of a staccato nature, leading the way, appropriately supported by rhythms equally tight and almost militant in execution. Fairly often the band will kick off their compositions in more or less that manner, and gradually develop towards more of a jazz-rock sound. The saxophone might be introduced to add an initial overlay, with or without a back and forth or intertwined arrangement with a guitar solo or plucked guitar details of a more delicate nature can be introduced at some point. Sometimes both developments will occur, on other occasions alternative combinations will be employed. But the composition will gradually move towards a gentler expression, with subtle alterations or more dramatic shifts, eventually leading us into a more gliding and elegant section with an emphasis on chamber rock. From which the composition now will begin to move towards a metal oriented expression again, usually by introducing a metal riff to build up around as the foundation for the gradual journey back to a metal-oriented style. The songs will ebb and flow in motions of this kind, some to a greater extent than others, with a wild array of quirky sequences along the way. Not that everything is challenging I should add, as we're treated to a fair share of elegant gentle guitar and flowing guitar solo passages just as much as we're subjected to experience eclectic, aggressive saxophone and guitar riff attacks, but when both those rather contrasting arrangements have a tendency to appear in the same composition, at times on multiple occasions, the brain will still partake in what many would describe as a fairly wild ride. As for some particulars, Typewriter II does indeed feature the sounds of this tool of ancient times as a part of the proceedings, and while the piece Mahna Mahna may not sound like something you think you know, I suspect, most will recognize the playful theme on that one from the very first few tones, one of those songs that is almost universally known, but where few actually know the song's actual name. The playful world music rhythms and nonverbal vocals on Shunyai Intro are a charming detour, whose traits are also featured in variations on the following Shunyai, and at last Mancini's classic theme song Pink Panther is given an at times intriguing run through the Panzerballett machine as well. Not all parts manage to recreate the magic of the original here, but some of the multiple passages and takes contained in those concluding six or so minutes are highly inspired.

Conclusion. The music by Panzerballett I have experienced so far indicates that this is a band that is keenly aware of what they are doing, and that they hold a high quality as composers as well as performers. As such the albums I have experienced by them so far are also fairly equal in style and execution. This latest one may perhaps feature few more instances of material with a broader appeal, or at least more sequences where the different aspects of their sound are marginally more separated and less eclectic, but not to the point of deviating all that much from what can be expected in my opinion. It is a quality production, for those, who appreciate and enjoy an instrumental band that maneuvers between tight, quirky progressive metal, jazz-rock and RIO, this CD by Panzerballett is one that warrants an inspection. Highly recommended!

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 1, 2016
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Gentle Art of Music Records


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