Pänzer is back with its sophomore album, Fatal Command, and this time the guys have gone back to their early roots as fans to tap into the vibe of the NWOBHM and traditional metal sound that influenced their own bands. Pänzer was born in 2014 when Destruction mastermind Schmier teamed up with former Accept members Stefan Schwarzmann and Herman Frank. The trio unleashed its debut album Send Them to Hell, that same year. The album was mixed and mastered by guitarist V.O. Pulver who joined the band as a second guitarist when performing live, but it soon became clear that Frank had a different vision for the band and departed. Pulver joined full-time, and the group snagged Hammerfall guitarist Pontus Norgren to add the dual guitar sound that the band wanted. This month, the quartet released Fatal Command, and album that blows away its predecessor and blends those classic metal influences with Schmier’s rough-edged thrashy vocal style. Metalholic recently caught up with the band’s frontman and bassist to chat about the new record.
This is the first time you really got a chance to do some songwriting with your buddy V.O. Pulver. What was that experience like?
When we had the big decision, are we going to continue the Pänzer thing, V.O. Pulver was already the guitar player that helped us out on all the lives shows as the second guitar player. I asked him to write songs with me because we produced so many albums together and we have long history together. We’ve been friends for 30-something years, but we never wrote a fucking song together, like a real official song. We did stuff together but never anything of major importance, so it was kind of a nice challenge. ‘Satan’s Hollow’ the first song we wrote…we wanted to see if it works. I think chemistry, in life in general, is important with everything you do in your job and all your tasks. It was actually very easy to write songs together because we have the same backgrounds, the same roots. I still believe in the recipe; if your good friends and musicians, you write the better songs.”
You guys sort of go back to your New Wave of British Heavy Metal and traditional metal roots on this album.
We’ve played this kind of heavy metal for so long, but we don’t play the classic stuff. Now going back to the classic stuff is like being a kid in a candy store. We go back and play the stuff that we grew up with. The stuff before we were musicians. The stuff that influenced us for the rest of our lives. That’s of course the new wave of English heavy metal. The British stuff was super important to all of us. It’s not just the classic bands like Iron Maiden and Priest of course. Priest was my main influence for many years and still is. But you also have the underground bands that maybe didn’t get so much recognition; Angel Witch and Raven and Jaguar and more, like Tygers of Pan Tang. They were super important in our roots. That’s what we’re paying tribute to. Also the early American heavy metal bands were very important, like Metal Church. I think the first Metal Church album came out in like 83, 82, and it was very important to us because it had this classic heavy metal influence with a new level of musicianship. We tried to pay tribute to all of this.”
What was the most challenging part of making Fatal Command?
I think the challenge was, for me as a thrash singer, I don’t want to sell my soul. I want to be Schmier, and it should sound like Schmier on Pänzer also. I don’t want to stretch my voice to be sounding too clean or melodic. It has to have the balls. It has to have this dirty voice that I have. When we wrote the songs, I always had the melodies in my head, and when we finalized everything I was very glad that we were all on the same level. I could sing the song cleaner, and I could sing the songs more melodic, but then it wouldn’t be me. Then you could just use another singer that is better as a singer technical wise, but we wanted to keep the songs a little dirty. My vocals are not always perfect on the harmony and stuff, but Brian Johnson from AC/DC isn’t either. The dirty rock and roll spirit has to shine through those Pänzer songs.”
You can check out the full interview with Schmier below as he talks in-depth about the new record, having two guitarists, the state of the world, and more.