[Album Review] Judgement Day ‘Polar Shift’

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Described as “string metal”, Judgement Day are a three-piece outfit that is comprised of a cello, a violin, and drums based out of San Francisco, CA. Brothers Anton and Lewis Patzner began playing string metal on the streets of Berkley, CA. As their popularity grew, so to did their ranks. They welcomed in Jon Bush began to play drums and the band was able to perform amplified shows at various clubs and venues in the area.

With several albums and compilations under their belt, Judgement Day is back with their latest offering, Polar Shift (iTunes pre-order). With 14 tracks and nearly 40 minutes of music, does this string metal offering work or end up sounding dangerously out of tune? Read on for the answer.

Let me start by saying I’ve always felt that classical and metal are two genres that can very easily compliment each other with some astounding outcomes. Bands such as Symphony X, Dream Theater, and, in some ways, Opeth, have shown that a complex, almost symphonic orchestration can yield gorgeous and fantastic results that require multiple listens to fully appreciate.

So I dove into listening to Polar Shift with a great deal of enthusiasm. After all, this was something out of the normal range of Bloody-Disgusting reviews and I’m all for a challenge.

The album opens with “Ghost Hunt”, a short track that immediately sets the tone of the album. The strings sound warm and have great intensity but the drums sound almost programmed. There is no organic feel to them whatsoever. As a result, the song ends up feeling somewhat flat. Unfortunately, this problem plagues the album as a whole. The lack of warmth from the drums is a contradiction to the rich flavor of the strings, one that doesn’t work.

The melodies and songs themselves have some beautiful moments with wonderful harmonization between the cello and violin, such as in “Xenophonic” or “The Jump”. The song titles also have a lot of nerd-cred references, such as “The Treachery Of Kyodai Ken”, “Forest Battle”, and “Darmok”.

While I wouldn’t classify Polar Shift as “string metal”, I will say that it takes the concepts of what makes metal, well, metal and plays with them, ending up with something that is quite fascinating.

The Final Word: Although the weak sounding drums hinder Polar Shift, Judgement Day have a very fun album that is great for those who want some metal without the crushing distortion.

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