On the American end of the power metal spectrum Judicator have been getting praise aplenty and for good reason. Their rich, guitar based melodic weaving sound, Blind Guardian inspired layering and depth, and rich, historically based lyrical tapestries like those of Maiden days of yore, nestled in great songwriting and a passion for the art make them one of the most interesting outfits in the genre today. Coming two years after the successful The Last Emperor (2018), Let There Be Nothing is their fifth full length since humble beginnings a near decade ago. It’s a thick, meaty album, its eight songs clocking in at just under an hour; only a single track is shorter than five minutes in length. Less approachable than its predecessor, and decidedly harder to get into, it’s not one for beginners or newcomers to Judicator’s music.
I thoroughly liked The Last Emperor, its accessibility and approachability blended well with the band’s trademark fleshy style. Some of that has been toned down here, lengthy songs packed with meaty riffing from guitar duo Tony Cordisco and Michael Sanchez, the latter blasting flesh tearing leads akin to the old school heavy metal vein. Add to that some massive guest solos from Balmore Lemus (NovaReign), Christian Münzner (Alkaloid, Eternity's End), Chad Anderson (Helion Prime, Disforia); yeah, this album spares no expense reveling in quality guitar mastery. Fast paced melodic riffing set the stage for the epic stories told through John Yelland’s (Dire Peril, Disforia) vocals, layered and deep. The man tells the stories with pathos and embellishment befitting one who went to the Hansi Kürsch school of theatric storytelling. He has great moments, taking to the skies in a higher register - never beyond his reach - in the opening track and choruses like Gloria and Tomorrow’s Sun.
No way around it, this is a good album without any really weak songs; rather there are moments here and there that drag on too long to pad the runtime longer than it would need. Strange to the World and Amber Dusk, clocking in at over eight and nine minutes respectively could use a shortening of at least a couple of minutes. One song however stands out as one of the very finest in the band’s entire discography; the title track closing off the album blends all the older Judicator style with the newer, its story the most poignant. Calmer sections turning into chugging, thick riffage - some of their best and dare I say Maiden like - with the rich guitar harmonies set the stage for Yelland’s incredible performance, it all comes together for a veritable masterpiece to close the album off; ever marching on - I feel. The Last Emperor might still be the highlight in their discography, but Let There be Nothing certainly gives it a run for its money. Judicator always remain firmly in control of the musical direction and the sound, and while occasionally it might drag on a bit, they always bring it back with a musical punch line to settle things exactly where they want them.
Standout tracks: Tomorrow's Sun, Let There Be Nothing