Panzerballett - Planet Z

(CD 2020, 51:15, Gentle Art Of Music GAOM 068)

The tracks:
  1- Prime Time [feat. Virgil Donati]
  2- Who The Jack Is Migger? [feat. Marco Minnemann]
  3- Mind Your Head [feat. Morgan Agren]
  4- No One Is Flying The Plane [feat. Gergo Borlai]
  5- WalkŘrenritt [feat. Hannes Grossmann]
  6- Urchin vs. Octopus [feat. Gergo Borlai]
  7- Alle Meine ─ndchen [feat. Andy Lind]
  8- Coconut [feat. Marco Minnemann]
  9- SOS [feat. Gergo Borlai]

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With Planet Z, German death fusion ensemble Panzerballett returns to the basics, meaning main man Jan Zehrfeld on guitar and except for two songs also on bass guitar, further hosting a number of very fine guests, all high regarded names from the musical scene.

Alongside Jan we find ourselves some of the best drummers around, like Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati and Morgan ┼gren. What remains in Panzerballett's music is the thin line between fusion and progressive rock music, where on one side Jan's heavy guitar parts form the core of each composition, the jazzy counterpart comes from some intriguing sax players and even piano and keyboards have delicately entered into Panzerballett's music.

The album kicks off with Prime Time and the cooperation with drummer Donati on this one might have triggered the album tittle, for this track is the ultimate combustion between Donati's Planet X and Zehrfeld's Panzerballett. Donati's signature drumming definitely fits this challenging album opener. Bass player Anton Davidyants, who has worked with Donati before adds some fine bass on this one. What a perfect track to start with. During the following Who The Jack Is Migger? Minnemann adds his tremendous skills. Basically this is a kind of signature Panzerballett tune, as far as we can speak of signature. Fine heavy riffs, great sax parts and a fine guest solo by Joe Doblhofer, Panzerballett's second live guitarist. The fun part in this tune comes from the reference hidden in the tittle, check out the track, it is not that hard to find. Former Zappa band member and more recently Devin Townsend drummer Morgan ┼gren presents on Mind Your Head a song that again balances between fusion , jazz and powerful progressive rock parts, but in their own particular way, catchy and accessible. When we continue with No One Is Flying The Plane a piano is introduced. A much needed instrument to tame the seemingly chaotic parts. A wonderful track which needs a few spins to appreciate the jazzy piano and raw sax alongside a diversity of guitar lines, sounds and a master drummer like Borlai. How to interpret a classic composition? Check out on WalkŘrenritt and find out how it's done. One of the heaviest riffs leads in Urchin vs. Octopus, although the fusion parts are never far, this is a stunning powerful composition, led by Borlai's powerhouse, adventurous drumming, this song holds one of the most inspiring guitar solos of the album. Where I was referring to heavy riffs on the previous track, Alle Meine ─ndchen also holds one of those Zehrfeld signature nasty riffs. Alongside former band member Andy Lind on drums, I guess this is the first Panzerballett composition that features a synth solo. Minnemann returns on Coconut, perhaps the most fusion track on the album, Jan's guitar almost sounds sophisticated and even the sax parts have a clean sound. The album's final track is SOS where the staccato guitar, sax and drum refer to the morse code that represents Save Our Souls. A nice way to incorporate this into a song, or being inspired by the code the write a song around this well-known code. The smoother middle section again sound pretty brilliant.

Planet Z is one of the most inspired Panzerballett albums I have heard, both progressive metal and heavy weird fusion are equally represented and blend together perfectly. Certainly a music highlight during these dark desperate times.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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