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Panzerballett - 2020 - "Planet Z"

(51:12; Gentle Art of Music)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Prime Time 5:23
2. Who the Jack Is Migger 6:37
3. Mind Your Head 3:34
4. No One Is Flying the Plane 7:08
5. Walkurenritt 2:43
6. Urchin vs. Octopus 6:20
7. Alle Meine Andchen 5:50
8. Coconut 6:32
9. SOS 7:05


Jan Zehrfeld  guitars, bass
Virgil Donati - drums
Marco Minnemann - drums
Morgan Aagren - drums
Gergo Borlai - drums
Hannes Grossmann - drums
Andy Lind - drums
Florian Fennes - saxophone
Sam Greenfield - saxophone
Georg Gratzer - saxophone
Anton Davidyants  bass 
Joe Doblhofer  guitars
Jan Eschke  piano, synth
Michael Lutzeier  saxophone
Larry Munoz - saxophone 
Mark Oates - trumpet 

Prolusion. German artist PANZERBALLETT has been an ongoing venture since 2004, with founding member Jan Zehrfeld as the key figure and just about the sole consistent part of the band over the years. New Panzerballett albums have appeared at regular intervals, and their seventh album "Planet Z" was released by German label Gentle Art of Music in the summer of 2020.

Analysis. As the band name implies, Panzerballett isn't exploring any style of music one may describe as conventional. Musically we are dealing with a band just as fond of their metal as their jazz, and with an equal passion for progressive rock idioms and free form jazz oriented expressive instrument details. Avant garde is an expression often used for artists that are exploring challenging musical landscapes, and to my mind that is something of a key word for Panzerballett as well. Avant garde, and rather challenging at that too. Panzerballett manage to balance the elements they use rather well, which separates them from many others that create and explore music that defy musical boundaries. We do get compositions that twist and turn so many times that you can get dizzy, and some of the soundscapes crafted focus on dramatic and jarring effects while also hitting us with a good handful of different melody lines. With a few of them being noise oriented at that. But even in the most challenging of times there's always at least one element that adds momentum or flow, and sometimes a softer texture whose existence is to be the calm of the musical hurricane we are presently a part of. Be it a flowing guitar solo, a driving bass line, a more simple rhythm pattern to contrast the expressive layers of sounds or simply a saxophone overlay adding an element of harmony on top of the turmoil beneath. In addition, several of the most challenging passages here are followed by calmer, softer and even tranquil sections, the calm both after the storm as well as the calm before the next storm is about to appear. Some of the creations here have more of a free form and jazz feel to them, even if the instrumentation and arrangements may well be fully metal oriented, and a select few will have somewhat more of a traditional but expressive progressive metal sheen to them, the jazz-tinged elements there mainly restricted to more subtle and less dominant instrument details. Just about all the songs can safely be described with the words challenging and avant garde though, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly the word compelling is one that I will add in addition to those. At least as I experience "Planet Z" this is an album where there is always some form of order in the chaos, as well as subtle elements of chaos in the orderly landscapes visited. There's a brilliant balance of elements throughout, and there's always one or more elements that presents themselves as appealing and compelling elements, to the extent that the end result becomes almost hypnotic and engaging. A certain taste for jarring, bombastic riffs and expressive saxophone details is probably needed to get the same kind of enjoyment out of this album as I did, alongside a taste for high quality musicianship from all the instrumentalists involved. Which is also a vital part of this production: You need musicians at the top of their game to be able to pull off an album of this kind to get a compelling end result.

Conclusion. Panzerballett will probably be more of a niche band, due to the highly challenging nature of the music they create. But for those who are equally fond of jazz and metal, and who tend to adore music described as challenging and avant garde in nature and spirit, for those I feel rather safe in stating that Panzerballett's latest album is a production that the greater majority will enjoy. The album also strikes me as a good introduction to this type of music for those who find such a description intriguing.

Progmessor: September 2020
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Panzerballett Gentle Art of Music


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