"Judge was set apart from the other youth crew bands of the time, basically because we were, well, 'darker' I guess is a good word. The dark side of the force. The music wasn't 'paint by the numbers' thrash, it was heavy and brutal. The lyrics also weren't the typical messages of idealized hope popular at the time: they were brooding and angry, fueled by a sense of frustration and anguish." - Porcell, some lines from the line notes from the discography.
Mike Judge - Porcell - Matt Pincus - Sammy Siegler - Lars Weiss - Jimmy Yu
||The Nile Theater: Judge
Interviews and Reviews
Judge "What it Meant - The Complete Discography" CD
Fuck yes! I'm a huge Judge fan so I was psyched as hell to see this thing get put together. For those that may be unaware, for whatever bizarre reason, Judge was formed as somewhat of a project band in the late-80's when Mike Judge and Porcell were in Youth of Today (who had taken on somewhat of a breakup/hiatus at the time), and went on to become one of the heaviest and most legendarily in your face straightedge bands of the time period. This disc collects the band's entire recorded output and presents it in chronological order, sans the infamously rare "Chung King Can Suck It" LP, which is tacked on at the end of the disc along with one unreleased demo track from 1988.
First up is the "New York Crew" 7", originally released on Porcell's Schism label in 1988, and recorded entirely by Mike (vocals/drums) and Porcell (guitars/bass). This EP introduced Judge as a total powerhouse with vicious standards like "Fed Up" and "New York Crew", while closing with a great cover of "Warriors", by Blitz. Then it's onto the classic "Bringin' it Down" full-length (1989, Revelation Records), which is one of my all time favorite straightedge records. At this time the band had brought in Sammy Siegler on drums and Matt Pincus on bass, and the recording is clearer and heavier on this outing than any of the band's other output, so even though it sounds dated it absolutely stands the test of time and marks the band's most crucial era. All nine songs are fucking awesome, from the crushing midpaced intro in "Take Me Away" to the pulsing bass and darker metallic edge of closer "Where it Went". And who could forget the faster and more traditionally structured hardcore fury of the title track or "Hear Me"? This LP definitely achieved an excellent balance between hardcore and metal. The attitude is all hardcore and most of the music is follows suit, but the heaviness, not to mention the more aggressive feel and lightly metallic riffing to tracks like "Give it Up" and "The Storm", among others, is definitely about as tactfully powerful as you can get when drawing from metal based influences. And of course, you know me, the ballad-y clean intro and sweet melodic lead that kicks off "Like You" is pure fucking gold, making it by far the most melodic Judge track ever, and of course, that's right, my personal favorite!
After that it's the "There Will Be Quiet..." EP, released in 1990 by Revelation. On this 7" the band added a second guitar player (Lars Weiss) and took a slightly chunkier and more dissonant direction in the awesome "Forget This Time", which had a surprising solo break and everything. "The Storm II" is an extended re-recording of the LP track that's similar, but a little more menacing vocally. The last track is another cover, the unexpected "When the Levee Breaks". I fucking hate Led Zeppelin, so this track is certainly not Judge's best - it's a bit of a long and rocked out clunker to be honest - but I can still listen to it. Possibly the most notoriously rare and sought after collectible by hardcore record collectors, this is the first time I've ever heard the "Chung King Can Suck It" LP from 1988. This was originally what was going to become the "Bringin' it Down" LP, and let me just say this: Thank christ they re-recorded that shit, because had they not I'm not sure the band would've been as revered as they were. The drums are thin and flimsy, the guitars are thin, the bass (laid down by their first bassist Jimmy Yu) sounds alright but usually gets lost in the shuffle, and the same goes for the vocals, which are also a little thin. The drums are so loud in the mix, too! Shit, it's so damn annoying, and nowhere near as forceful as the final version of the record. The best thing about it, however, is that it contains two tracks that were never re-recorded: "Holding On", which blends fast and energetic hardcore with some quick little rock leads, and "No Apologies", which is a little heavier in approach and has a killer breakdown. I have no clue why they didn't re-record these songs as well!?
Anyway, the layout looks fuckin' great and includes plenty of old band photos, the original record covers, all of the lyrics, and some liner notes courtesy of Porcell. Of course it would've been incredible had they been able to get Mike Judge himself to come out of the woodwork to throw in his two cents, but Porcell does a pretty good job of reflecting on that time through Mike's eyes as well - much of which had to do with the manner in which the forthright straightedge lyrics were misconstrued to incite violence rather than focusing on the personal aspects that reflected on internal hardships. But from either perspective, whether it's, "Smoking that butt, it makes you mature, A slave to sex and you tell me you're pure, You slam that beer, it makes you a man, I'll try to keep my cool but you better understand," or, "It feels dark, alone here with these thoughts, Looking through the wrong end, And I feel that way again..." I can't fault the lyrics at all, and it makes perfect sense why so many people immediately latched onto the band back in the day. Overall this thing's been handled extremely well, and it's awesome to have all of this material on one compact collection. Great work. I love Judge... and you should, too. Any younger kids who are into the straightedge scene that don't own "Bringin' it Down" are fuckin' insane and should buy this discography immediately. (9/10)
Running time - 70:12, Tracks: 28
[Notable tracks: Fed Up, Warriors, Take Me Away, Give it Up, The Storm, Like You, Where it Went, Forget This Time, Holding On, No Apologies]