(Full disclosure – I’m a huge JUDICATOR fan, and close friend of several members of the band. I contributed to the Indiegogo campaign that made the professional release of this album possible and have promoted them on the compilation CD that I produced and distributed in 2014. That said, my review may be slightly less than completely neutral, but it’s an honest appraisal of the work.)
At the Expense of Humanity (available March 28 via http://Judicatormetal.bandcamp.com) is Judicator’s third full length release. Their first two, 2012’s King of Rome and 2013’s Sleepy Plessow, are historical power metal that were recorded and produced by Tony Cordisco in his home. They’re great albums with a good concept and lyrics and an awesome sound, but the production was a bit raw, as is the natural way of bedroom recording projects. JUDICATOR raised over $3,000 via crowdfunding in 2014 and was able to give this disc the full professional treatment that their work deserves, and the result is amazing.
At the Expense of Humanity is the autobiographical tale of John Yelland’s loss of his brother due to cancer. The concept and lyrics are deep and thought provoking, and destroyed me emotionally. John’s vocals are uniquely his own, while having a definite influence from the work of BLIND GUARDIAN’S Hansi Kursch. The use of death growls by guest Paul Black accents John’s pain, and really supports the clean vocals.
The music itself is an interesting mix of both U.S. and European power metal styles, with a ton of progressive elements, and on occasion, just a hint of IRON MAIDEN. Tony Cordisco is at the top of his game on guitar and bass and is amply supported by the talented Tyler Sherrill on keyboards, including some great guitar work via keyboard patch. Jordan Elcess completes the recording with some solid drumming.
You want guests? Jeff Teets of MINDMAZE contributes a guitar solo to the track “How Long Can You Live Forever?”, and Mercedes Victoria’s vocal contributions to “Life Support” make this track a personal favorite. Additional contributions on guitar by producer Carlos Alvarez and Joshua Payne, and Austin Bentley on strings really help round out the album’s sound.
JUDICATOR has grown with each release, and they’ve really knocked this one out of the park. What started as a chance meeting between Tony and John at a BLIND GUARDIAN concert in 2010 has blossomed into an amazing band with more potential than most bands can even dream of, and while enjoying At the Expense of Humanity immensely, I also wait anxiously for their next release, and the next, and the next after that.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM!!