Let There Be Nothing

Power metal. I don’t think there’s a single metalhead I have met who doesn’t have a soft spot for it. When speaking with other metalheads, there are many favorites who come to mind; Helloween, Blind Guardian, Sabaton, Manowar, Iced Earth, and, hell, even Judas Priest. One’s favorite or favorites sometimes has to do with when they got into metal in the first place. For me, I didn’t get into metal and its respective sub genres until I was basically finished with high school. My favorites were Falconer and Thunderstone at that time. I still blast The Sceptre of Deception by the former and The Burning from the latter.

As you may have figured, since the opening paragraph was entirely about power metal, Judicator are firmly within that genre. I first heard them quite a few months back while perusing the metal section in one of my favorite record stores, Magnolia Thunderpussy, in Columbus, Ohio. I had no idea who they were. The gentleman behind the counter was throwing out some serious power metal that day, which led me to purchasing Theocracy, as well as Eternity’s End. He also played some Judicator. When I asked who they were, he said; “Judicator, but, sorry dude, we don’t have any in stock.” After I got home (it’s a 2-hour drive), I purchased their most recent album The Last Emperor.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Emperor, so I was excited to see their latest Let There Be Nothing in the figurative promo pile. For this one, they’ve signed on with Prosthetic Records, who have quickly built one of the most diverse rosters in all of metaldom. Their main influence is, not surprisingly, Blind Guardian. In fact, according to the promo, the vocalist John and guitarist Tony met at a Blind Guardian show. Who says metal doesn’t bring people together? Although this is a concept album, it is based on Belisarius, a Byzantine (not the band) general wishing to reunite Rome. So, no Tolkien mythology here.

The opener, which is called “Let There Be Light,” is a little long, but sets the stage. There are some folk elements mixed in, but this track is definitely more of the ballad type of power metal. The follow up, which is called “Tomorrow’s Sun,” is of the high energy power metal style, contrasting very well with the opening track.

The album really hits its stride with track 5, “Gloria,” then the following track, “Amber Dusk,” which includes a solo from Christian Műnzner, who just recently rejoined Obscura. The female vocals in the former are quite a nice change of pace. “Gloria” may have the best chorus on the album. As may “Amber Dusk.” When it comes to power metal, if you don’t have a good hook, you have nothing. Luckily, “Amber Dusk” not only has that going for it, but also some great lead work throughout. Although it is a 9-minute song, the last two minutes are the best, so wait it out.

The final track is the bookend called “Let There Be Nothing.” This is another contender for the best chorus on the album. I feel like the vocals of front man John Yelland stand out a little bit more here. His vocal performance all around is remarkable, but this track is notable for the great hook, but also the delivery. It’s a great way to end the album.

I’ll be honest… I wanted to like Let There Be Nothing a lot more than I actually ended up enjoying it. This is probably because, as mentioned above, it doesn’t really hit its stride until the fantastic “Gloria,” which is track 5 of 8. Fortunately, every track after that is solid, if not stellar. The first 4 tracks are good, but nothing exciting. The pros of that outweigh the cons. That means the album starts out slow, but picks up, so it does end on a high note.

At just short of an hour, however, it’s difficult to get through the slow start. Overall, it’s enjoyable and will likely grow on me throughout the year. As of this writing, however, Let There Be Nothing is merely a good, not great entry into the power metal universe.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
August 12th, 2020


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