Man, Fozzy has come a long way. Hell, even further than I would have ever guessed. Brought to you by the demise of Stuck Mojo and Speedstick (I mean, Sickspeed), this Y2J-fronted heavy metal/hard rock outfit hit the scene with a ’00 debut of metal covers. At the beginning, Chris Jericho’s voice took on the character of his influences: Dio, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, and (especially) Ozzy Osbourne. By 2005’s All That Remains, things began to change. The band focused on original material consisting of poppy melodies, occasional rap metal leads, and Jericho’s own take on Ozzy Osbourne’s infamous voice. These elements were then exaggerated by 2010’s Chasing the Grail—which found the band beginning their transition to poppy, Linkin Park-ish “metal.” Sin and Bones took it to the max and the follow-up album, Do You Wanna Start a War, tossed in whiny growls for good measure. Unable to stay put with a formula, Fozzy‘s seventieth anniversary finds the band trying to incorporate everything they’ve ever attempted. That sounds like quite the feat, but this is Fozzy.
There’s only so far you can go when you write Linkin Park rock/metal. That said, Judas is one of the more fluid albums the band has ever put to tape. It flows the way you’d want a rock album to flow. It doesn’t overdo it, like the balls-and-booze Sins and Bones, nor does it overcompensate (for lack of balls), like the growly Do You Wanna Start a War. And it has the passion to at least be convincing. There’re a few hard-rock flops but the band actually attacked Judas with the same ferocity as Do You Wanna Start a War. But, the wimpy growls are gone and Judas is the better for it.
The disc kicks off with the very catchy single, “Judas”—the representative of what’s to come on this new release. It’s poppy metal with touches of Linkin Park melodics and a focus on choruses. The latter usually building to a final climax and usually repeating a dozen times. Of the more straightforward numbers, “Judas,” “Wordsworth Way,” “Burn Me Out,” and “Elevator” are the better ones. They have good drives, catchy choruses, and all of them have big, arena-sized finales. There’s nothing spectacular about them, but they are solid fun. The first two are similar in energy, direction, and melody—delivering all that is groovy, sappy, and radio-friendly. The latter two are more upbeat, with a poppiness that perks up the album’s mood. “Wadsworth Way” is a sap-happy rocker, “Burn Me Out” is the encore to a pop-metal rave, and the Ozzy-like “Elevator” is about as sing-along a song as “Judas” could ever be.
Other than that, the album is pretty typical. “Drinkin with Jesus” and “Weight of my World” are decent pieces. But the rest of the songs are pretty forgettable. The final three songs, in particular, seem to continue to fall away until I finally look up and realize the album is over. One track, though, stands out above the rest. And not because it’s the best. Instead, it’s because Fozzy is the bastard child of Stuck Mojo and shit gets really weird when Rich Ward is allowed to do whatever he wants. “Three Days in Jail” doesn’t just have some old rap metal moments, it has a shitload of them. So many, in fact, that “Three Days in Jail” stands out like a sore thumb. One moment, it feels like another Fozzy rocker; the next, it’s everything Limp Bizkit could never be. On top of that, this is the only track on the album to use the growling vocals from Do You Wanna Start a War. It’s all over the place but it’s interesting enough for a second spin.
For sure, most of you will find loads of shit wrong with these songs. Beyond the petering-out conclusion to the album, the biggest issue, for me, is the lyrics. Jesusfuckingchrist… I know Fozzy isn’t exactly the band to take serious, but things like “I’m becom– / I’m becom– / I’m becomiiiiiiiing” and “I’m your elevator” sound like sick Grier jokes. But that’s Fozzy in a nutshell: fun and carefree, with bad lyrics and subpar songwriting. But it works (if you like your metal brainless and energetic, and chockful of chair-shots to the nuts). I know a lot of you sad sonsabitches love this shit because these dudes are definitely selling albums. So, you might as well embrace it and buy Judas. Because it’s one of the better records in the band’s arsenal.