Not all power metal is cheesy. In fact some of it is, dare I say, powerful.

And standing true to that testament is Judicator. A band formed out of a love for, and actually at, a Blind Guardian concert.

The album that drew a lot of attention for how good it was, is not the album I am about to talk about. Rather, this is the album that has come after that one. And it is a thing of beauty. It was the sound track to my recent holiday, touring the South Island of New Zealand, and its theme of the crusades somehow manages to fit right in to the Lord of the Rings scenery.

Now, I must admit, I am a power metal fan, and I tend to be drawn to the cheesy. After all, Man o War’s The Gods Made Heavy Metal is totally my jam! So I do not shy away from the cheese, or the role play, or the leather-wearing-axe-wielding-dragon-slaying-Harley-riding-bare-chested-Viking-hero that seems to star in these types of songs.

The Last Emperor stands on its own merit. Great, powerful music with compelling lyrics, fantastic harmonies and well timed downbeats. It has it all. For fans of power metal, this is a must listen.

I first found this band due to Apple Music’s For You (which is like Spotify’s Discover Weekly) recomending me Take Up Your Cross. I did not need a second listen to save this album to collection for a full proper listen. Even now, its blasting out of my awesome speakers for probably the third time today.

The Queen of All Cities is a punishing song and just at the right time breaks with acoustic and harmonies. But to get a real taste with out leaving my lovely site, here is the last song on the album – King of Rome’s Official Video. Most power metal is a little darker than this, but the shiny eyes, the clear camera, all make it so much better.

Its really good is what I am trying to say. Everything comes together so well.

John Yellands voice is top notch, and its all clean vocals in this album (hey, high pitched is still clean!). And this boy can go high! High in the nut-twisting glass-shattering way, but its always well timed, in-tune and impressive. Add some gang vocals and even a few impressive harmonies, and you have the rich tapestry of voice. But listen closer to Jordan Elcess’ mastery of the drums. Tony Cordisco covers the lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars as well as the song writing which gives the album a style present in all songs. Michael Sanchez brings up the bass and lead guitar, but he’s not to be overlooked. On your third or forth listen, you’ll hear the eloquent bass lines that are hiding in plain sight in each song. The production on this album is top notch. It has made me a lifelong Judicator fan.

Now we just need to get them to New Zealand…

Categories: Music Review

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