The German traditional Power Metallers PANZER fronted by the legendary SCHMIER of DESTRUCTION release their new album Fatal Command on October 6th on Nuclear Blast. You can read our review HERE. Casper had a killer chat with Schmier recently. You can hear this below.
Get your denim and run for cover: They are rolling again! Two and a half years after their infamous wake-up call Send Them All To Hell, heavy metal saviors PÄNZER have returned to the scene. Their agenda: Make metal great again! Their crew: Stronger than ever! Their ammunition: The furiously roaring successor Fatal Command. The prediction: This will leave no stone un-turned!
Schmier needs no introduction. Like few other figures in the world of heavy metal, the DESTRUCTION front-man is essential to this music, simultaneously being one of the genre’s icons and an embodiment of its virtues. A lot has happened since he founded DESTRUCTION in the southernmost corner of Germany way back 1982 and thus invented German thrash metal along the way. And not for the best, as Schmier sighs. “Contemporary heavy metal sounds like kindergarten,” he gruffly complains. “Just look at the bands getting really big right now: Pop melodies and nonsense.” This is why PÄNZER are here. A band, formed for just one purpose: To celebrate and to praise true heavy metal.
Their first attack was launched in 2014. With Send Them All To Hell, the band (at this point simply known as PANZER) seemed to appear from nowhere and unleashed everything there was to say in their hymns of steel. Next to singer and bassist Schmier, guitar legend Herman Frank (VICTORY) and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann provided the necessary force to devastate the land and to bring back the 80’s in all its traditional glory. Only one year later their steel was forged on the stages of Rock Harz, Summer Breeze and Metal Hammer Paradise, igniting the crowds with ferocity, hunger and youthful enthusiasm. Schmier fondly remembers the early PÄNZER gigs. “Suddenly, these old stagers were incredibly nervous again,” he laughs and adds: “Sometimes, it’s necessary to wake up old men like us. It’s what keeps you young and alert.”
They didn’t continue without casualties, though. Herman Frank left the band in 2016 to solely focus on his solo endeavours. “It’s never easy when you see one of the leading figures of a band go,” the singer muses. “Me and Herman were the songwriters, it’s only natural to ask yourself how it’s all going to continue.” Well, it did – thanks to the fun the two remaining members had with THE GERMAN PANZER, as the band was called by now. “We realised we needed the band to let certain things out.” Consequently, they needed a replacement. And found it right under their noses: Swiss guitarist V.O. Pulver (GURD, POLTERGEIST) not only produced their roaring debut, he was also helping out live on several occasions. Schmier didn’t stop there, though: “We felt the need to feature a second guitarist to focus on some solo work.” They found what they were looking for in Sweden: Pontus Norgren, HAMMERFALL’s guitar wizard and a real bloke. “Pontus is huge! He nailed down most of his solos while being on tour with HAMMERFALL through the United States. He built a little studio in the back lounge of their tour bus and was working his ass off after every single show.” It’s true what they say: You don’t have to be in the same room any more to record a great album. But you have to share the same vision and ambition. Still, with a Swedish and a Swiss guy on board, the band’s name was obsolete once again. Enter PÄNZER. The most powerful incarnation of this rolling heavy metal mass yet.
What’s really remarkable is that every single member in this band is doing it for his first love ever: Pure fucking heavy metal. Thus, Fatal Command is a dream come true for all you 80’s disciples out there, a massive offering of aggression and melody, a bow before NWoBHM and German legends ACCEPT. “Playing this music evokes a lot of memories. Of course we don’t sound modern or original, but we don’t want to in the first place! The sole purpose of this band is to praise our roots. We are playing the music we grew up with.” This they do with vigour and a vengeance: Wouldn’t it be for the solid and huge production, this album would appear to come straight from the 80’s! High velocity, razor-sharp riffing, triumphant leads and refrains smelling of raised fists, leather and rivets. “We knew from the very beginning that we had to surpass our previous efforts,” Schmier recalls the creation process of Fatal Command. “Hence, we focused completely on the two guitars.” Which roughly translates to: Twin guitars, twin guitars, twin guitars! “Herman had a very specific style of composing to which he clung quite fervently,” the frontman continues. “I mean, that’s alright, he’s a brilliant songwriter. This time around, though, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do. We wanted to cover the whole of the metallic 80’s – and did quite well, I think.” Schmier, ever the master of understatement!
Fatal Command is breathing heavy metal like few other albums of recent years do. It’s a monolithic record on which the tempestuous music, the provocative artwork and Schmier’s social-criticism come together under a metallic and indestructible hide courtesy of Little Creek Studio in Basel, Switzerland. One thing, however, is setting Fatal Command apart from the perfect heavy metal record: “There’s no ballad! But as the singer, I wanted to spare mankind,” he laughs. Consequently, PÄNZER prefer to hit the throttle and concentrate on kicking as much ass as possible. Fatal Command is wearing the insignia so many current bands are lacking, a bold statement against wimps and posers. What’s missing to become the absolute heavy metal war machine? A full-grown tour, of course! Until this will become reality next year, PÄNZER swear a solemn oath on Fatal Command. They will be true to heavy metal in good and in bad times, in sickness and in health. They will love it and honour it all days until death parts them. Amen!