There was a time when Fozzy would have been described as a ‘fun’ side-project for WWE star Chris Jericho. In 2017 that accusation would be grossly unfair, with the band building a solid reputation in the rock industry and fast approaching their 20th birthday.
In Judas, the Atlanta quintet has created what could be their best album to date.
Kicking things off is the title track: incessantly catchy and easily one of the best rock songs of the year, the track builds in to an earworm that you’ll be humming for days after.
Judas even served as a theme tune for NXT Takeover: Chicago in one of the band’s first crossovers with WWE. To date, the song has nearly double the amount of views on YouTube than any other in Fozzy’s back catalogue – a clear statement from a band that is aging like a fine wine.
The driving force is, irrefutably, founding members Jericho and Rich ‘The Duke’ Ward. The former’s gruff and wailing vocals are propelled by the latter’s huge riffs and expert fretwork, creating a swagger and confidence that’s increasingly rare on the hard rock scene.
Right across Judas are tracks that feel huge in scale. Burn Me Out, in particular, feels geared towards a sold-out arena or stadium rather than academies and universities.
Cut from the same cloth as early Linkin Park, Three Days In Jail threatens to stray into nu-metal territory, with heavy industrial influences and the inclusion of metal rap. It’s a completely new sound for the band and it’s impressive that, even 18 years into a career, Fozzy are more than happy to stray from a winning and safe formula.
Elevator is deliciously rhythmic and easily the closest Fozzy have ever strayed to mainstream radio-friendly rock. In many ways it serves as a microcosm for the entire album: the band seems to have successfully stripped away the image of a strict heavy rock outfit by blending in a more accessible sound.
The result is a well-polished and diverse effort that flies along at a breakneck pace.
Eleven tracks race by in a riff-fueled blur and the only disappointment is when Judas ends with the feeling of wanting more. More tracks. More swagger and more deliciously gut punching rock that feels like it was two decades in the making.
Packed with masterful guitar solos and growling lyrics, it feels strange to say Fozzy are most definitely ones to watch…