Judicator – Let There Be Nothing (Prosthetic Records)

Judicator founders Tony Cordisco and John Yelland met at a Blind Guardian show… and up to now have done a great job of emulating their heroes with a slew of power metal gems.

2018’s The Last Emperor was a particularly impressive step forward. A blaze of lightning riffery and soaring melodies, it showed that the band was evolving into something special.

It was no surprise, then, to see the US act signing for Prosthetic earlier this year. But they needed to deliver on their early promise.

And deliver they have.

Let There Be Nothing sees Judicator mix their heroic, power metal bombast with stronger trad metal and NWOBHM ingredients, and sharpen their songcraft too. The production has been ramped up. Cordisco and fellow guitarist Michael Sanchez rip into its eight tracks like their lives depended on it. It’s an exhilarating ride.

Certainly, anyone with metal coursing through their veins will feel that familiar, all-consuming adrenaline surge, as soon as opener Let There Be Light leaps into glorious life. And they’ll be enraptured by Autumn Of Souls, a hyperspeed love note to vintage Smith/Murray Maiden.

Ok, so the song structures can be ambitious at times – and many tracks break the eight minute mark.

But on the whole, the momentum is kept up.

And that’s no mean feat.

Take the title track for instance. The album’s conclusion blends battle-charge riffery with moments of high drama and bitter reflection, weaving between regal harmonies and some of the record’s darkest, heaviest moments. It’s captivating, challenging… and one hell of a way to sign off.

And all the while, Yelland blesses these tales of Byzantium conquest and treachery with one of the finest metal vocal performances you’ll hear this year. Amber Dusk and Strange to the World are particularly fine examples of his formidable prowess, songs where he can show off his full range over both gentle acoustic passages and searing, fret-scorching blitzkriegs alike.

Judicator may have spent much of their eight-year career somewhat under the radar. But they’ve put in the hard yards and with a growing global appetite for slick, exuberant NWOTHM, Let There Be Nothing could change their fortunes overnight.

With music this scintillating, they certainly deserve a wider audience.