Judiciary’s 2019 full-length, Surface Noise was an impressive debut, straddling the line between hardcore and metal in a proficient, though not entirely original manner. And while the record drew lazy comparisons to their then-rising Texan brethren Power Trip, Surface Noise landed closer to All Out War than Leeway, leaning heavier on crushing riffs and breakdowns than thrashing grooves and anthemic sing-along choruses. It was really just good, old-fashioned, heavy-ass hardcore.
In the four years since its release, it would appear Judiciary have dialed in on a more specific sound, one that brings them closer to that Power Trip comparison than before. On Flesh + Blood the five-piece take a turn towards the more metallic aspects of their style. The band has traded the pummeling riffs for thrashier grooves, and nearly every track features a punched-in blazing guitar lead. But while it’s loaded with enough pinched harmonics and dive bombs for the thrashers, Judiciary still hang on just close enough to their more hardcore roots to keep from going full-on crossover.
Flesh + Blood flies by, with half of its ten tracks clocking in under three minutes, and its with a breakneck intensity that the band pounds through the record. The majority of the songs are fairly traditionally structured numbers that benefit from a wealth of talent, and whether it’s the creative drum fills or the sailing guitar leads, the band is adept enough to make the tracks appear more interesting than they actually are. It’s not that ripping solos and driving double-kick rhythms are new for the group, but now they seem to be the focus, pushed front and center of the mix—and even of the songs themselves.
The opening duo of tracks “Flesh” and “Blood” are perfect examples. Both songs follow a similar structure, with the payoff coming in their mid-track guitar solos and concluding breakdowns. The emphasis of the band seems to have shifted from hard-hitting songwriting to technical proficiency and audience-pleasing climaxes. Even a more simplistic track like “Paradigm Piercer”, with its steadier rhythms and repeated group-shouted refrain seems to be forced in. Flesh + Blood feels like it’s vying for something bigger. That isn’t to say that the band has lost their hardcore edge, but the punishing nature of Surface Noise has been downplayed in favor of sharper, more festival-ready compositions.
But Judiciary still do what they do well. Lead single “Engulfed” showcases what made their debut so good, building along a grating riff that culminates in a high-flying guitar solo, and deeper cuts like “Cobalt” and “Steel Hand God” are as devastatingly heavy as any the band has written. Flesh + Blood is a good record, even if it at times it does feel a bit disingenuous.
Bottomline: There’s nothing wrong with Flesh + Blood, really it’s a damn fine record, but it seems be lacking the urgency and intensity of Judiciary’s debut. The focus on the more metallic slant of their sound is certainly welcome, but it comes at the cost of the more straight-forward hardcore that they excelled at.
9 commentsPost Comment
Kublai Khan but bad.
^^^ Swing and a miss
muffstuffer87 2 hours ago Kublai Khan but bad Nahh, also this band hasn't sounded like Power Trip since 2016
Missing here with the Kublai Khan and Power Trip references. Solid record.
Yep ^^ This band is doing the Jesus Piece, Year of the Knife type thing
Jesus Piece are worse than Zulu. And YOTK are a bad Kickback cover band. Judiciary smokes all of yall.
THEY ARE f*ckING AWESOME
I LISTEN TO THIS SHIT WHILE SQUATTING 405+LBS THEY GET ME OVER THAT GRIT
I'll help... The album comes out March 10th... I guess the article was already at it's word count...