Fozzy are by no means a new outfit on the scene of hard rock/metal, in fact Chris Jericho and co have been an active band since the late 2000's, trying their best to make a stage for themselves instead of being acknowledged as "The band that really famous wrestler sings in". It's come with ups and downs, and despite main stage appearances on the bill of Download Festival and some supercharged tracks like 'Enemy', Fozzy have never quite managed to fall into the tapestry of a band that look set for true stardom.
New record Judas does its best to shake away the shackles of being simply "Chris Jericho's band" and become more of a group effort in its own right - giving Fozzy the kind of credit they have been searching for since day one. Judas certainly holds some moments within its grasp where there is true musicianship here, and a high level of cohesive energy that at times makes you feel like you're within the bands formation. But by the same token, the record never makes a true leap into greatness, and finds itself staring into the abyss on more than one occasion.
The title track finds the record, and Fozzy in general at their absolute best - simplistic guitar lead verses bridge into a chorus with a hook that demands you sing along with it, it's the best the band have ever sounded. However with 'Judas' being the opening track, sadly the record finds itself struggling to climb up a steep hill of expectation from there on out. From here the album hops between the good, the bad, and the bland - with not much coming in the sense of star power.
'Drinkin With Jesus' is as predictable as its name would suggest, with lyrical content that at this point isn't just outdated - it's been done to death and would feel more at home in an 80s cover band set than in the current day. Tracks like 'Elevator' and 'Weight Of My World' do scarcely little to capture your imagination either, and while some bands are able to take filler songs and twist them into including at least a couple of interesting peaks - this is something that Fozzy struggle with largely on this record.
It's not all a downward slope from the title track though, Jericho's vocal performance on 'Painless' remains impulsive and charming, while 'Running With Bulls' has the hard rock, gritting guitar tone that gives the track a sense of intent and despair. It's the times that Fozzy find a blend between modern and classic that Judas has its hit moments, and when they hit - they hit with recognisable force.
Judas isn't going to be the record that stops Fozzy from being Chris Jericho's side project, or at least: it shouldn't be. Fozzy are a band that have a real gem of a metal song within them every two or three years, but have never been able to translate one banger into a ten song ensemble of throwbacks and kicks forwards. The story of the band may not have changed here, but Judas does little to offend newcomers and less to offend pre-established fans.