Location: Texas, United States
I’ve come to a bit of a realisation as of late that the main thrash bands that catch my attention these days draw upon other genres in their overall sound and influence. By that I mean bands that are a fusion of both thrash metal and either black metal or hardcore. These are the acts that really grab me by the throat and force me to pay attention thanks to either their sheer power and energy or their raw, biting sound and speed.
Hopefully for many of you who agree with me on this matter, Judiciary is a name that you’re already familiar with. Given the stir that the band has made since their inception I wouldn’t be too surprised if you had at least heard mention of their music. If you are one of those unfortunate enough to not yet be graced by their high energy, riff heavy brand of crossover/thrash/hardcore then let Flesh + Blood serves as your introduction.
To me Flesh + Blood is the logical follow up to Surface Noise, as it both elevates and refines the sound that the band had established on the prior release. Things are grander, more dramatic, more atmospheric here, without giving up aggression or speed. There’s just a more balanced approach implemented, one that shows a band maturing as time goes on. I think that the opening track Flesh is a perfect example of this new direction, before the second track Blood is a little more of a return to form.
But it isn’t just in the band’s song writing or influences that I hear a change. The guitar tone is heavier, more crushing, the drums are more powerful, the bass a little thicker. This comes down to the instrumentation itself but for a large part it’s the production. There is a very noticeable improvement in production quality between the previous release and this latest offering and it plays a key role in the album sounding like a natural progression.
As hard of a call as it is to make, I think Paradigm Piercer is my overall favourite track on the album. It just goes so goddamn hard, it has that super headbangable, anthemic chorus that I would kill to belt out live while being knocked around in the second or third row of the pit. There’s some restraint on display here though, between the powerful choruses and the album’s verses and bridge, other than killer shredding we get some moments of atmospheric tension building that I’m all for.
Obsidian has a similar effect on me, giving me an overwhelming desire to see the song performed live. It’s not just because of those killer wailing Slayer inspired riffs or those pounding high energy drums, its also not just because of those powerful howled vocals. It’s the sum of the parts, that gives the track a powerful overall sound and an infectious energy. It barely scrapes ahead of Eschatos Hemera for second place on the album though, a track that has an unrelenting energy and force behind it and perfectly closes out the release. What holds it back for me though is that clean vocal segment 3/4 of the way through that I felt the track could easily have done without.
Overall, I think that most fans of the band will see this album as a step in the right direction. I think there may be those who liked the less produced predecessor, but I feel as if this album will grow on them over time. If you like hardcore infused thrash metal, then this album should be considered essential listening for 2023.
Listen to and order the album: