Even though Jag Panzer – Colorado's own Iron Maiden and Accept wannabes – have been around for more than two decades, don't kick yourself if you're not familiar with the band's work. Sure, 2000's Thane to the Throne and 2001's Mechanized Warfare gained the group some new listeners, thanks to a deal with Century Media, but these leather-clad hard-asses have actually been making NWOBHM-influenced albums since 1983.
After a major U.S. tour with Iced Earth and In Flames in 2002 and a rousing yet cheesy performance at the BW&BK 6-Pack Weekend festival in Cleveland in June 2003, Jag Panzer apparently feels the time is ripe to give listeners a lethal dose of their musical past. Which, truth be told, isn't that much different from the band's musical present. Decade of the Nail-Spiked Bat is a two-disc set on which the quintet gives a sonic facelift to 20 long-deleted songs from such early albums as the Tyrants EP and Ample Destruction. In some cases, these re-recorded songs have been dramatically reworked from the originals – but if you've never heard the originals, what do you care?
Insightful yet brief liner notes by guitarist Mark Briody help put these songs into some sort of perspective, and it's easy to trace the band's evolution of heavy metal heroes – from Judas Priest to Accept to Maiden. Unfortunately, it all begins to sound the same after awhile. Singer Harry Conklin's voice is solid but too operatic at times, and if you've ever seen these guys live, you know he needs to lighten up a tad. Still, Decade of the Nail-Spiked Bat offers a good indication of where this band has been and where it's going. Not surprisingly, the aural journey isn't too far.