Initially conceived all the way back in 1999 by WWE Superstar Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward (of STUCK MOJO fame), FOZZY are a band that’ve always seemed to be capable of great performances. From their early days of being mostly a covers band, to their occasionally star-studded original output as time went on, the Atlanta-formed five piece have been churning out hard-hitting heavy metal anthems for a long time now, and never really seemed to receive their due praise in many areas. Now some 18 years into their lifespan, FOZZY are back, and ready to break down the walls of your attention span with their seventh studio album Judas.
From the off, there’s an immediate sense that FOZZY as a unit have nailed what it is they’re all about. Opening number (and title-track) Judas is arguably the band’s greatest song to date, with an effortlessly brilliant chorus that begs to be yelled by rabid audiences, and some of the most fun and powerful riffing ever committed to tape by the band. This full-throttle approach to songwriting is pretty much the overriding theme throughout much of the album too, with tracks like Drinkin With Jesus and Running With The Bulls packing some of the most outrageously memorable US rock choruses this side of a SHINEDOWN record. And really, it’s in the vocal performances that Judas shines as an album – with Jericho proving himself, as ever, to be a born performer.
Even when the band slow things down a touch though, the results are no less impactful. Wordsworth Way is bordering on BON JOVI levels of power-ballad, if BON JOVI fed everything through ungodly levels of distortion; whereas Painless keeps a tiny bit more of the pace, but also contains some of what may well be Chris Jericho’s best ever vocals on a FOZZY record to date.
Perhaps one of the most intriguingly strange moments on all of Judas comes with the track Three Days In Jail however. Initially beginning as what seems like another crunchy and lumbering rock track, it soon takes a complete left-field turn as a rap vocal verse appears from nowhere. That’s not the only surprise either, as the later section of the track even goes as far as introducing a few lines of growled vocals to up the metal and increase the diversity some more. It’s not one of the strongest songs on Judas, but it’s certainly great to see FOZZY willing to experiment with their established formula some.
This turn doesn’t last long however, and FOZZY quickly return to their rocking best with the staccato riffing of Elevator and aforementioned Running With The Bulls – a track so toweringly massive in its sound, that it seems borderline-unfair to almost every other band making this style of music.
There’s room for one final salvo though, and it’s possibly one of the most unexpected, closing track Wolves At Bay – a galloping almost thrash-metal cut that seems apparently set on ending Judas on as high a note as humanly possible. It of course, does so with ease, thanks to yet more brilliant vocals and a gleefully melodic guitar solo straight from the playbook of hard rock’s greats.
Looking as a whole, it’s pretty difficult to conclude that Judas is anything other than the most consistently strong FOZZY album to date. Each track feels powerful and important in its own right, and there’s a fairly distinct lack of filler. If one main lesson can be taken from the record, it’s that Chris Jericho and co. certainly know their way around an anthem by now, and if Judas is anything to go by, things are only going to get better from here on out.
Judas is available now via Century Media Records.
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