This is actually the fifth outing for American Power Metal band Judicator, a band formed around the core of guitarist Tony Cordisco and vocalist John Yelland who, as legend has it, met eight years ago whilst waiting to get into a Blind Guardian gig and decided to form a band that encapsulated what they loved about the band they had in common. On the evidence here, it’s certainly mission accomplished, as long as you remember that Blind Guardian have not always sounded exactly as they do now.
Blind Guardian in the 90’s was a rawer, more energetic, less symphonic beast, driven on by the relentless drums of Thomen Stauch, and if you have only a fraction of the time and budget it takes to create a modern day BG opus, then their early days are certainly a better place to start. Not least because there was more of a youthful experimentation and exuberance to Blind Guardian back then, before they managed to back themselves into a bit of a creative corner. Many bands, including Judicator have noticed this and taken that core sound in the direction BG might have gone. For instance Judicator have touches of Iced Earth in their sound, which might point towards a Demons and Wizards feel, but instead Judicator follow a path blazed briefly by Persuader and Savage Circus, arriving at an Orden Ogan type area, with occasional bursts of classic 80’s speed metal of say Metal Church or Gravestone thrown in to just give things an extra edge.
The songs steer clear of cluttering orchestration and rely more on heavy drums, bass and guitar driving dynamic tempos, crowned with memorable expertly delivered vocal lines and hooks. Eschewing the Blind Guardian multi-layered harmonized choruses for a more Iron Savior type approach, which works perfectly with the technical Power Metal rhythms and arrangements – though Yelland still proves he could do the layered vocal approach if needed on the central section of ‘The Way Of The Pilgrim’. There is an honesty in Judicator’s songs that captures everything bands like Blind Guardian were about in the mid 90’s – it was all about the song, the music, the players in the band, rather than the additional symphonics and it’s fantastic to hear Judicator capture that vibe so well on “Let There Be Nothing”. Previous albums by Judicator have proved a little difficult to get hold of at times, but with Prosthetic picking this one up the band have rewarded them by serving up some great songs this time around (this album is crammed with Power Metal delights from start to finish) and I’ve a feeling Judicator will be picking up plenty of new fans all around the world when this album emerges.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)