Judicator
The Majesty of Decay

I have a problem with power metal in that I miss all the great albums until after the year is over and therefore am unable to include them on my year end list. However, I did happen to catch the promo for Judicator’s new one on Prosthetic called The Majesty of Decay, and I am glad I did. Why? Well, that’s a dumb question, you silly goose. I am about to tell you.

Firstly, this album is a progression from their other work, which is not to discount it. However, it’s so well done that it feels like this is the top of the mountain for which they were reaching. It’s a concept album with an underlying story, but each song also stands well on its own, even the ones that are meant to be together.

The opener, “Euphoric Parasitism,” does an excellent job of setting the stage with a characteristically slow build. The song basically stops on a dime and changes a little more than 2 minutes in. I must admit that every time vocalist John Yelland sings the line “my body’s withered like an old fruit rotting,” I expect and hope he says “Fruit Roll-Up.” He doesn’t, but that might be the only letdown. The chorus is excellent, and the key flourishes in the background blend seamlessly.

I wanted to mention track 2, the title track here, but cut that part out, which I saw coming early on.

However, what I did not see coming is track 4, “Daughter of Swords,” with its blasting, squeals, and almost tech death opening. Upon the first listen, I looked down at my iPod (make fun of the old guy, you fucks) and wondered if I somehow started another album. Once the heavy main riff comes in, it still sounds slightly like a different band, almost like Dream Theater’s Train of Thought. Cheesy as it may be (this is power metal after all), this is the best chorus SO FAR on the album.

This takes us to tracks 5 and 6, “Ursa Minor” and “Ursa Major.” If you couldn’t already tell this album is personal, the lyrics right in the beginning will hammer that home. The first part also is the first time the phrase “brother bear” is mentioned, and while it may sound lame at first, it’s clear this is meaningful. In the latter track, the repetition of the “brother bear” phrase is unexpectedly catchy and emotional.

Of course, the longest track is the last one, “Metamorphosis.” There are some great leads, some somber horns, and of course the lyrics to match. The heavy subject matter comes together here in all 9 minutes. It’s rare that a long, mid-paced power metal track is worth the time, but this one certainly is. It’s beautiful, especially those closing lines.

As I mentioned previously, I haven’t indulged in a lot of power metal this year, but Judicator might render any other exploration unnecessary. What the band has done is something I have always wanted from power metal. Sure, dragons, wizards, and yes Blind Guardian, we know you guys take a yearly sojourn to the real-life Middle Earth just to jack off. It’s weird, but it’s fine. Dedication to their craft and what not. What I really want is for it to be personal and emotional. In other words, I’m impressed, and expect this album to make several year-end lists. It’s their best work yet. Pony up some coin.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
December 15th, 2022

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