Album Review: Judicator - Let There Be Nothing
Reviewed by Jon Wigg
Blind Guardian are known for their symphonic, huge-sounding brand of power metal and bringing massive crowds together as one in some of the greatest sing-a-longs of all time. About a decade ago, they brought together two fans at a concert and they decided to form a power metal band as a homage to their favourite band.
Singer John Yelland and guitarist Tony Cordisco took the spirit of early Blind Guardian with their speed metal roots, and produced four records of excellent quality under the name of Judicator. All of their albums are concepts, with subjects ranging from Napoleon, personal tragedy, the Crusades and Frederick the Great. Their latest offering, Let There Be Nothing, chronicles the deeds of Byzantine general Belisarius and his quest to reconquer former Roman territories in the 6th century.
The recording group was completed by Jordan Eccles on drums and Michael Sanchez on bass and guitar, although a lineup change has taken place post-recording and Eccles now resides on bass and Sanchez has departed.
So as previously mentioned, Judicator in style are very similar to early Blind Guardian. There are standard power metal sections but some definite speed and thrash parts that really fit in well. A good example is the second track ‘Tomorrow’s Sun’ which bangs along nicely and reminds me of Guardian tracks like ‘Banished From Sanctuary’ and ‘Majesty’. Yellands vocals are strong throughout and there is certainly a similarity to Hansi Kursch in both style and range.
‘Let There Be Light’ starts acoustically and has a feeling of melancholy as the story of Belisarius begins. Then the tempo picks up into an excellent opening track which really sets the tone for the whole album. This really is a disc where the lyrics matter and it’s easy to become enveloped by the tale itself, waiting for the next track to continue the story. Third track ‘Strange To The World’ starts with a riff taken straight from the playbook of fellow US metal luminaries Lord Weird and Slough Feg, before the acoustic guitars kick in and Yelland’s fantastic voice comes to the fore. A multi-part song this, with the middle section providing speed, before the return of the Feg inspired traditional US metal and finishing with a mid-paced power metal ending. Musically taking the listener on a journey is often a tough thing to do and when done right, is a wonderful thing - Maiden’s seminal 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and Guardian’s ‘And Then There Was Silence’ are great examples. Judicator do this twice on this album - ‘Strange To The World’ and ‘Amber Dusk’ - to great effect and the thought put into the music and lyrics are to be commended.
‘Autumn of Souls’ and ‘The Way of a Pilgrim’ are more standard power metal tracks that move the story along nicely but for me didn’t particularly stand out. ‘Gloria’ is another great track with the addition of female vocals, some excellent riffing and soloing and the album closes with the epic ‘Let There Be Nothing’. For an album filled with highlights, great performances from the entire band, some of the best power metal vocals you will hear, Judicator fashioned a fitting ending with this track. The album clocks in at just under 58 minutes and at the end of ‘Let There Be Nothing’, I just wanted to go back to the start and have another go.
Judicator have taken the inspiration from Blind Guardian, who brought them together in the first place, added to it and made themselves into one of the best metal bands around. ‘Let There Be Nothing’ is right up there in my ‘Best of’ list for 2020 any fans of traditional/power metal should be getting hold of this as soon as possible.
'Let There Be Nothing' is available now on Prosthetic Records.