I have to say that I was not a aware of Judicator as a band until they have released their latest effort. Their brand new offering The Last Emperor is actually their 3rd full-length and I can truly say that we are dealing here with yet another successful band that arrives from US shores. For example their music is different from Eternal Champion or Visigoth but, yet their style is quite traditional, some would note that they’re perfect example for USPM.
Judicator has a brand-new album out, called The Last Emperor. This is your 4th record. So, could you please present your latest offering to Metal Sound’s readers from your point of view?
Tony: The Last Emperor musically is our take on what is my favorite approach to power metal. Riff oriented, extravagant melodies, a story woven throughout, and a bombastic vocal approach.
John: The Last Emperor is a concept album about The First Crusade, focusing primarily on Godfrey of Bouillon, who would become the first “king” or Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. Somewhere between Riot and Blind Guardian comes us.
This is the very first time that we have a chance to have an interview with Judicator. The band has already released four full-length albums. Could you tell us something more about the history of the band?
John The band was founded by Tony Cordisco and I, some time after we met at a Blind Guardian concert in Tempe, Arizona. The band began as a self-produced “for fun” project, but our first release, King of Rome, was surprisingly well-received. So we decided to keep going and turn it into a proper project. We kept getting really good reactions to our music, so we continued to improve and grow. Now we have a full, live band.
Could you also tell us a bit more about the style that you are offering though your music? It would be welcome if you could compare Judicator perhaps with some bands or tell us something more about your influences.
Tony:: Our primary influences musically are definitely the German style of power metal, and that is most evident on this CD–though definitely some folky and thrashy influences come through strong. However, as our past albums have shown, we have a pretty wide range, as on ‘At the Expense of Humanity’ you can hear direct influences from bands like Cynic, Opeth, Death, Porcupine Tree, etc. ‘Sleepy Plessow’ also had a quite bit more traditional metal feel to it and was able to showcase some more of Iron Maiden/Judas Priest type sounds, as well as some more atmospheric and folk influences. Our next album will definitely have our widest array of influence yet. People who have found our ‘experimentation’ dry or ponderous in the past will probably be massively disappointed, but those who are itching for that will find themselves happily pleased I think! I like to bounce back and forth between straight forward and tight, to a little more loose and expanded in scope. It keeps things interesting for me as a songwriter.
John: I would say that Freddie Mercury and Hansi Kursch were the most immediate influences on my stylistic approach to Judicator, but also Kai Hansen and Bruce Dickinson. I have a myriad of other influences that affect my growing personal style. Despite these influences, I try very actively to mold my own unique style.
I haven’t yet purchased your latest CD but as far as I could notice you based your lyrical background themes about history (btw, is there any physical copy of your latest arrival?). I’m personally very curious about it so tell us a bit more about your lyrical inspiration.
John: Yes, we have physical copies of all our discography, but keeping up with demand is sometimes surprisingly difficult! This is a good thing though.
History is a favorite subject of ours for album concepts, but we don’t limit ourselves to that category. Our third album At the Expense of Humanity is a reflection about my experiences watching my brother slowly die of cancer, and the album we are working on now is taking shape now as a sort of fairy tale. History will always be a favorite though. I would like to continually come back to that arena.
Since I’m not so familiar with the band could you tell us have you already played some shows anywhere or is the band active live? It would be very nice to hear and see you (live) somewhere.
John: We have toured a couple times through the western United States, and we hope to play some festivals in other parts of the country between this album and the next.
There are currently no plans to tour, but hopefully that will be a possibility after next album.
Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) sang some guest-vocals in one of your songs. His vocal-style has perfectly has adapted to Judicator’s style. So, tell us, how did it happen that Hansi has done guest-vocals for Judicator and how the entire working with him was?
John: I got in contact with Hansi back in 2014 when he did guest vocals for a band I was in called Disforia. He sang guest vocals with me on “The Dying Firmament,” on The Age of Ether. Since then, him and I have stayed in contact, and any time we’re in the same town we try to hang out. In 2015 Tony and I traveled to Denver to see Blind Guardian perform, and the three of us all hung out together.
As far as “Spiritual Treason” goes, Hansi had the availability to do the guest vocals, so it was luckily no problem. He really liked the song and its lyrics, so that helped too!
Tony: Hansi is a class act, very humble and gracious, and it’s been an absolute dream come true to spend some time with him, speak with him both personally and professionally, and eventually collaborate.
Since you have already recorded four full-albums could you tell a bit more about your other offerings?
John: Well, King of Rome is about Napoleon Bonaparte’s return from exile on Elba and the ensuing battle of Waterloo. Sleepy Plessow provides a brief overview of Prussia and Frederick William I “The Soldier King.” This consequently introduces his son Frederick the Great, who is the subject of most of the album. Our third album At the Expense of Humanity is about my experiences watching my brother fight cancer – a battle he ultimately lost. It also details how the family was affected.
The cover artwork done for the brand-new issue is indeed interesting and quite nice. So, could you tell us who has done it and what would you like to express by the visual side of the band?
Tony: Cover artwork has always been an opportunity for improvement for us and with this album I felt like I finally achieved something that truly fit the music and stood out as an ‘album art of the year’ contender. I wanted it to both reflect the power metal nature of the band, and the historical nature, but also with that personal spin–hence the fantasy elements and the actual faces of the band members appearing in it. I’d love to experiment with more art styles going forward.
I would like to thank you for the interview and I hope to see you somewhere live! I wish you the very best!
John: Thank you so much! I hope we can perform near you someday. Let’s get a beer and hang out!
Tony: Thank you so much! Cheers and keep the riffs playing!
- Interview by Marko Miranovic