Judiciary beat the brakes off of the notion of a sophomore slump with Flesh + Blood, an album that excels in calculated aggression and melody alike.

Release date: March 10, 2023 | Closed Casket Activities | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

When Judiciary dropped Surface Noise in 2019, I thought they were the motherfucking future of hardcore. Not in a superbly innovative or original way, just a consistently powerful and fun way. While the actual future of hardcore has shown itself numerous times recently, sometimes you just need to be good. They knew their way around a guitar, vocals were mean, everything was there to make them a big name or, at the very least, a good name for hardcore fans of… hardcore.

Flesh + Blood was well on track to continue that trend after I heard the single “Engulfed”. Production was cleaner (good or bad depending on your view), no compromises to their aggression were made, and, shit, somehow the riffs and melodies were even more lethal. All right! Then things go deeper.

“Flesh” and “Blood” (kind of title tracks, but not) were also incredibly competent and cool, callous too. There’s a metallic edge to how Judiciary play, which makes for huge setpiece moments in songs like the intros to “Flesh” and/or “Blood”. I also love the breakdown in the latter, which is unadulterated hardcore. Or how about the twittering solo toward the end of “Flesh”? Even giving Flesh + Blood a cursory listen while doing other stuff, some moments just seem to grab you by the hair and turn your head around 180 degrees so you pay attention.

When you get metal and hardcore together, the natural combination is metalcore. This isn’t that, but there are some moments that call back to the 2000s and that genre’s renaissance at the time. “Paradigm Piercer” is fertile ground for that sort of comparison, but try as I might I can’t think of a band I can comfortably compare it too (I wasn’t a metalcore kid, I went from weird alt/proggy shit straight to cringe black metal kid).

The deep cuts are where this album shines the brightest. Goddamn, the drums in “Knife in the Dirt” are something else! It’s amazing what some well-paced double kicks will do for a song’s ferocity. I love how they interact with the equally rapid-fire guitars during verses, while the vocals lay waste to any space somehow not taken up by the instrumentation. Everything’s remarkably well mixed – shout out to the GOAT Arthur Rizk (who also has some guitar work on “Steel Hand God”, another banger). I don’t repeat songs often during full album listens, but I had to run “Knife in the Dirt” back a couple times.

The repeated pinch harmonics on “Stare into the Sun” color that song really well, squealing underneath the screamed vocals. They’re so good, they’re repeated almost exactly on “Obsidian”, just with a little tremolo thrown in. I’d mark that as very slight negative, but I love them so much I can’t. The biggest song, sonically and length-wise, is “Eschatos Hemera”, which translates a bit loosely to ‘time of death’ from Greek. It’s massive with a bit more space and openness for the Texas fivesome to occupy. Some subtle reverb or echo shows itself, there’s even some clean vocals in the middle, and the whole vibe is appropriately apocalyptic and final. A great end to a great album.

When metal and hardcore are on a rampage, you have to do a lot to stand out. Frankly, I expected big things from Judiciary, and they delivered with several knees of justice to the chin, dick, and stomach. This is battering, hammering metallic hardcore, fine-tuned to a surgical degree where every note is weighty and nothing relents until your music player dies. In the end, that’s just another casualty of Flesh + Blood, a top-form heavy album that’s sure to impress fans of uncompromising power and melody.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

Leave a Reply