Review: Surface Noise

Category:  Music
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 at 10:44 AM
Review: Surface Noise by Ben McCullough

The cover of Judiciary's Surface Noise features The Statue of Liberty's bloodied face and cut out eyes surrounded by images of the machinery of war: bombs, bullets, guns, knives and fighter jets.This collage of dismal images also contains many emotional faces and people that will surely make you uneasy. This comprises the cover art for the west-Texas hardcore band's debut LP. 

It is incredibly satisfying to hear this album at the start of 2019 considering 2018 was one of the best years for hardore as of late and Surface Noise is a perfect way to start off the new year. I expected nothing less from Judiciary considering their only other releases, an ep from 2016, and a split with the band Mortality Rate from 2017, consisted of only hard hitting tracks that they released independent of a label. 

Judiciary’s music sounds like the bands Forced Order, Power Trip and God’s Hate got together to birth an evil spawn. Surface Noise is packed full of piercing guitar solos, fierce power-riffs, and breakdowns of almighty stature; all things necessary to stand out amongst the plethora of heavy bands in today’s scene. Guest vocals from the vocalists of Knocked Loose, God’s Hate, and Mortality Rate are also featured. 

The album opens with one of my favorite tracks, titled, “Social Crusade.” The song is about the “vicious cycle” of social hierarchy in our society, a cycle that has been molded by the evil powers that be. This is a major theme that is consistently addressed throughout the album.  

The song opens with a violent metallic riff and a drum roll leads into a blaring grunt from vocalist Jake Collinson, which opens up to the whole band ripping along. Halfway through the song, a guitar solo cries out and the rhythm guitar shreds under it. The solo ends and Collinson screams, “I’ll sink my teeth into your world.” The song then breaks down into a fit of violence that left my mind in a state of chaos. 

There is little to no subtlety in the words of Collinson. On the next track, “Karma’s Knife,” he talks about what will come to the likes of those that he references in “Social Crusade.” He even says what he himself would do: “You’re in our world now, no escape, in your wrong you drown” and “I spare no mercy for a spineless fool, how does it feel to be the prey? On the other side, it’s your time to pay.”   

Hardcore is the perfect outlet to express feelings of anger and frustration, and it is impossible for you to miss the point when the words are literally screamed in your face. Surface Noise is as good of an example as any when it comes to a hardcore record being direct and forthright about harsh truths and reality. 

In the past as in the present, we live in a world of deception, driven by authority to benefit those in charge: in charge of the wealth, the power, and the minds of people. When will the system and the people who run it pay? Judiciary says nigh. 

“War (Time is Nigh),” the third and final single released for Surface Noise and also the final track on the album, is another one of my favorite tracks. Galloping guitars march forward with power, emulating the sounds and energy of war. Occasional riffs break the madness, but only for a moment. The lyrics not only blame those at the top for the “all out war” soon to come, but also those who promote war and domination. 

Held at the hands of few, the keys to annihilation. Gained a seat at the top through deception and persuasion.” In the next verse Collinson says, “Held at the hands of you, the keys to annihilation. Chomping at the bit for world war and domination.” Also referring to “you,” as in the people who buy into the thrill of power through war, he claims that “fear has bested all in your narcissistic world.”   

My favorite track on Surface Noise is “7.65mm,” the song grooves along while somehow keeping its edges razor sharp. The way the drums perfectly match the guitars gives the feeling of something being stomped to death, while the transitions between each verse creates the smooth “groove” aspect. Collinson reiterating “Dig deeper than the surface,” really drives in the point. 

There are only several things that for me, keep this from being a perfect 5/5 album. The breakdowns on “Stronger Than Thou” and “Temple” both work wonderfully with the songs, but I feel like I have heard them done many times over. The album is 9 tracks long but the track “Zero Hour” is only a minute long instrumental and “Pure Fury,” although it being one of my favorite tracks from Judiciary, is a remastered song from their split with Mortality Rate. This makes for a total of only 7 new tracks.   

This album does not break new grounds in the world of hardcore, but it pushes the intensity of thunderous, rage-filled music forward at full steam. 

Standout tracks: Social Crusade, 7.65mm, War (Time is Nigh)

Ben McCullough | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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