The last few years may have been a taxing time for The Judex, ravaged by the fickle ebbs and flows of human nature, occasionally rudderless and perhaps questioning their future. But when it was time to put new music out, they always seemed to put their own problems behind them and just got on with the job of making a fantastic racket. And so, here they come again, doing just that.
Voodoo Macbeth is the sound of the band firing on all cylinders again, six sonic salvos of belligerent and brilliant rock and roll that take the 50’s doo-wop template, pour 60’s garage band gasoline on it, light it with an incendiary flash of proto-punk swagger and then serve it up with one foot on the monitor and one fist in the air, low slung, full of attitude and ready for action.
Phil Rudd once told me that the difference between rock music and rock ‘n’ roll was the swing of the beat and the groove of the music. It is what made his own band, AC/DC, most definitely the latter, rather than rock or, (god forbid!) metal. The Judex should be similarly labelled and for the same reasons.
The opening, title track, lays out the template, Lord Byron playing the part of Evil Elvis, whilst The CBL3 (I’m sure that you can work it out considering their home city) act as the sonic shaman kicking out their own ghost dance jams in this sonic evocation as the ghosts of the blues dance with our rock ‘n’ roll ancestors. Big City Sweetheart stomps round to a ball-busting bass line and Pagan Heart Serenade is the sort of song that shows up the whole of the punk movement for the chancers that they always were; the thing that the movement was supposed to wipe from the face of the earth, rock ‘n’ roll music, here out-punking even the most punky of punks.
There’s even room for a 50’s style serenade with Little Iodine to round things off, obviously set to the usual incendiary guitars from El Flyin and sung with tongue firmly set in cheek…or perhaps not. But like Sweet Hatchback on the previous album, a song in this style at least once per album seems to be a signature move.
What makes this new line seem more authentic than the previous, is their ability to surrender to the moment, to take a lead from the arch-Wiz himself and abandon themselves to the primal scream state which is required to do this sort of music justice. And do it justice they do.