Wow, how to create internal struggles for one of your reviewers. If you have been reading the previous review I wrote for German technical jazz progmetallers Panzerballett, you might have noticed that there is kind of a weak spot I cherish when it comes to their music. I adore the technical djenty guitar parts that are fused with heavy fusion and a large dose of humour. But now Panzerballett has come up with Christmas tunes that have been Ballettized, or extremized as they refer to themselves. Actually I do own some albums that hold holiday music; the Merry Axemas CD's, a Gary Hoey album and a Brian Setzer one as well. All bought because of the talented musicians that are presented on them, barely played though. Now Panzerballett wants to cheer me up with X-Mas Death Jazz.
After several spins, btw it's early November writing this, I have to conclude Panzerballett does add the extra twist these traditionals could use, but still I wonder how bandleader and guitarist Jan Zehrfeld persuaded special guests like Mike Keneally, Mattias IA Eklundh and Evanescence's Jen Majura to participate on some of these tracks. Although the original music doesn't appeal to me, Jan, in combination with second guitarist Joe Dobhofer and sax player Alexander Von Hagke really perform well and transform the songs to match their own distinguished musical style. I just have to credit them for that. On the other hand, the vocal part on the album makes sure the music still is accessible for the “normal” musical aficionado. Let It Snow is grunting gives me a huge smile, but in general the vocal additions don't do the trick for me.
Guess I want to keep this a short one, because, although the musical aspect is as brilliant as ever, you still are listening to Frankensteined versions of traditional holiday music. However, if you can see past the theme, you get a great freaky jazz metal album. Summing up, if you want to have a wonderful death jazz Christmas, or perhaps just want your mother in law to leave very early this year, you should get this album and play it loud. Notice, expiration date December 27. Heavy Holidays to you all.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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