Here at the Sleeping Village, we keep our most revered albums in....a very special place. Their time may have gone, but they are certainly not forgotten. On the today's docket is an album that landed pretty high on my AOTY list of 2018, and remains in near-constant rotation to this day. Hence:
I sing the praises of this album quite frequently, but, as today is its second birthday, I feel that a little more chit-chat on the matter is justified. Why? Judicator is my favorite power metal band. Full stop.
Taking the glorious bombast of the Blind Guardian (et. al.) Germanic power metal scene and combining it with subtle thrash sensibilities, Judicator perfectly balances monolithic vocal melodies with righteously aggressive riffs 'n' drums. 2018's The Last Emperor ended up at #6 on my year end list, and has continued to steal the spotlight since. Their entire discography is worthy of similar attention. Hooky yet complex tracks are the name of the game, and frankly, if you're mad at power metal because it epitomizes this formula, we can't really help ye out.
Judicator brings a light back into the concept album as a viable effort, and with their (primarily) historical focus, what isn't to love? While so much modern (and, admittedly, classic) power metal flounders between the realms of "uninspired" and "predictable," Judicator's clear dedication to the craft marks them as remarkably character-focused innovators. Judicator also appeals to a certain academic side of my existence; I wrote my dissertation on the 1st Crusade. So if you’re morbidly curious about where my fascination for the medieval aesthetic stems, there ya go.
But Judicator’s brilliant latest didn’t end up 6th on 2018's year end list simply for thematic reasons. Nay, The Last Emperor is a magnificent beast of a record, a shining example of how goddamn powerful power metal can be when executed with mature and adept hands. Glorious hooks abound, as do a wide array of lofty leads and comradious choruses. Epic bloodlust is the name of the game, and despite preconceptions associated with the genre tag, Judicator take their craft incredibly seriously, never sacrificing the sheer quality of musicianship. According to Spotify, 3 of my 5 most-listened songs of that year were cherry picked from this album. Highly, highly recommended, especially for ye olde acolytes of the Blind Guardian. Or, you know, power metal in general.
Judicator - The Last Emperor was released March 2018.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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