by Aaron Gidney
Buckle up – this one is going to be bumpy ride!
Perhaps the most musically insane album I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in 2020 – welcome Panzerballett! Munich’s finest Jazz Metal project have released the album you never realised you needed to hear.
Planet Z is the band’s seventh studio release which contains amazingly crafted album titles such as X-Mas Death Jazz and Tank Goodness!
Sounding like a Mahavishnu Orchestra/King Crimson/Planet X/Meshuggah instrumental hybrid, Planet X is probably the most diversely bonkers thing to grace your turnable (insert preferred listening device here).
There equal amounts of jazz horns and death metal riffs abound and bizarrely it works extremely well. It’s also rather refreshing to have an instrumental only album – I think vocals would have made this nigh-on impossible for the brain to absorb any more instrumentation!
There’s plenty of odd time signatures, polyrhythms and atonal riffage that would make even Robert Fripp proud on most of the tracks.
If Avant-garde is not your thing, you’ll most likely need to look elsewhere and even more so if you don’t like Jazz or Meshuggah. Also, if you’d assume this is metal posing as jazz – you couldn’t be more wrong. The very essence of jazz experimentation are clearly on display and one can hear both the looseness of improvisational jazz and the tightness of Progressive Metal – it’s a combination that works.
There’s also plenty of humour hidden amongst the bazillion notes – the track Walkürenritt humorously apes Wagner’s Ride of Valkyries as it’s main musical motif. Track 2 is also hilariously called Who the Jack is Migger – which is so silly its actually really funny!
Musical groove is not lost – there are some 4/4 sections – although disguised as polyrhythmic headscratchers – a trick well used by Meshuggah often to great effect.
There’s clever King Crimson-esque guitar interplay on Urchin vs. Octopus which took me straight back to The Construkction of Light era Fripp and Belew.
The synth solo on Track 7, Alle meine Ändchen is glorious and totally unexpected – well done Jan Eschke!
Overall, crushingly heavy in places, face melting Jazzy improvisation in others – the fact this was committed to tape makes the mind boggle at the musical complexity and dexterity of the musicians involved, and in particular, leader Jan Zehrfeld. Interestingly, there also appears to be a different drummer on every track in true Spinal Tap fashion – with notable mentions for Prog Drumming Lords, Marco Minnemann, Morgan Ågren and Virgil Donati.
Bonkers, clever, diverse and quite possibly a work of genius – you do not want to miss this!
1. Prime Time 2. Who The Jack Is Migger
3. Mind Your Head
4. No One Is Flying The Plane
6. Urchin vs. Octopus
7. Alle meine Ändchen
Jan Zehrfeld – guitars (all tracks), bass (except 1, 4)
Virgil Donati (1)
Marco Minnemann (2, 8)
Morgan Ågren (3)
Gergo Borlai (4, 6, 9)
Hannes Grossmann (5)
Andy Lind (7)
Florian Fennes (1, 3, 5, 7)
Sam Greenfield (2, 8)
Georg Gratzer (9)
Anton Davidyants – bass (1, 4)
Joe Doblhofer – guitar solo (#1 on 2)
Jan Eschke – piano (4), synth solo (7)
Michael Lutzeier – bari sax solo (4)
Horn section on (4):
Larry Muñoz (saxes), Mark Oates (trumpets)