While Judicator’s fifth full-length offers their signature brand of historically themed Power/Prog Metal, it comes at a more personal angle this time around. The story of Let There Be Nothing (Prosthetic Records) is based on the life of Belisarius, a 6th century Byzantine general who reclaimed remnants of the Western Roman Empire while wrestling with a crippling marriage. The album never quite reaches the catharsis of 2015’s At The Expense Of Humanity, but it’s nice to see their Blind Guardian worship be tempered with a little extra pathos.
With that concept in mind, it only makes sense for the music to carry a little more subtlety than usual. The band’s penchant for double bass-driven gallops and theatrically layered vocals is as prevalent as ever, but the structures are more intricate with the vocal lines are delivered in a way that’s almost downplayed compared to their usual bombast. The hooks and charging rhythms have an almost cautiousness behind them and tracks like the ironically titled ‘Let There Be Light’ come with a darker mood that clashes with the rousing crusader metal last seen on 2018’s The Last Emperor.
But even when the songwriting is less straightforward and not as reliant on outright catchiness, there are plenty of strong tracks to work with. ‘Autumn Of Souls’ and ‘Gloria’ are the most in line with classic Judicator, putting in some of the album’s most memorable choruses. On the flip side, ‘Strange To The World’ builds a fluid series of tempo fluctuations while keeping an introspective attitude, ‘The Way Of A Pilgrim’ is a crunchy mid-tempo charge, and the closing title track serves as a stirring climax as well as a trailing comedown.
Overall, Let There Be Nothing is an interesting album that allows Judicator’s signature strengths to come through a different context. While it isn’t quite as catchy as The Last Emperor or as heart-wrenching as At The Expense Of Humanity, the way it navigates between these two mindsets ultimately amounts to a more distinct experience. One of those albums might be a better entry point to the ways of Judicator, but this album is looking to be a major grower. Add an extra point if you fancy yourself some Byzantine-themed Heavy Metal.
Order here: https://judicatormetal.bandcamp.com/