Ever since the dawn of time, there has been a connection between metal and classical music. Typically you’ll find these two genres melded with the band being backed by a full orchestra, as is the case with Metallica and the Scorpions. Rare is it that one finds the songs originating from the classical artists themselves, and you can certainly tell when you see a string section attempting to rock out behind James Hetfield. That’s where Judgement Day comes in. As the title of this review suggests, these guys are not pretending. Hell, they don’t even need a full string section. All they need is one violin, one cello, and two huge sets of testicles. To be fair, there is also a drummer, he himself with a huge set as well (note: this is pure speculation as no inspection took place).

[audio:http://www.yukonpromotions.com/mp3/01%20JudgementDay-OutoftheAbyss.mp3|artists=Judgement Day|titles=Out of the Abyss]
Judgement Day – “Out of the Abyss”

I first saw brothers Lewis and Anton Patzner my freshman year of school at Berkeley when pedestrians could frequently catch their street show in front of Noah’s Bagels on Telegraph and Durant. Never would I have imagined seeing them open for the likes of Dredg. Be forewarned, this is not your grandmother’s violin recital. No, this proves that the instrument does not make the rocker, the rocker makes the instrument. Anton and Lewis spent a couple years working out the kinks of their unique lineup, and it seemed like they got them all worked out by the time I saw them at Bimbo’s.

It happened to be my first time at Bimbo’s 365 club, and it was a great show. The audience was somewhat dispersed between the bar area in the back, the seating area off to the side and the floor area. It was a solid sized crowd, but sometimes looking a little thin because of the large area. There was no stopping Judgement Day as they took each and every one of us in the crowd on one hell of a wild ride.

Coming up second on the bill was Torche, an Miami group bringing together various styles of rock to create an amazing amalgamation of sound. Having parted ways with guitarist Juan Montoya late last year, I was very curious to hear what they would sound like as a 3-piece. They were great. It was almost as if Dimebag Darrell did a side project with Dinosaur Jr., after exhaustively listening to early U2. They had straight ahead, no nonsense hard rock drumming, a la Jon Bonham, complete with a big kick, a fat crash, and a slammin’ full snare.

Their riffs were the most metal part of their sound, chugging along like a steam engine pulling out of the station. What caught my ear the most was Steve Brooks lead work. Melodic and appropriate – no over the top shredding where a clean 5-note run would fit much better. Jonathon Nunez and Rick Smith comprised the rhythm section and they kept locked in tight through the set, bringing in a bellowing low end accented with some great syncopation on the cymbals.

Admittedly I didn’t see much of their set, although I heard it in it’s entirety. This was because I was too busy trying to self-induce a concussion by slamming my head up and down the entire time.

Closing out the evening were Dredg, hailing from Los Gatos, right between San Jose and Santa Cruz. With a hotly anticipated new album coming out June 9th, I was very stoked to see their set.

Opening up with a new track, the guys immediately fell back into some fan favorites including Ode to the Sun and Of the Room. Their sound was impeccable – you could tell there was a reason they were headlining. With all the sweaty bodies crammed together and jumping around, there were moments of a pit beginning to develop, but it was always controlled and there was never any animosity boiling up. Just plain old fun where everyone in the crowd was synced up with everyone in dredg, creating an atmosphere of ridiculous energy; a natural high if I’ve ever had one.

The evening peaked when Anton and Lewis came out to join Dredg onstage for the end of their set. The strings beefed up the sound and gave the songs an almost entirely new identity. Judgement Day had been touring with Dredg for a bit before this particular show, playing the Great American Music Hall just the day prior, and they are a match made in heaven for any rock fan out there. If you get a chance to catch these guys separately you’ll still have a good time, but together they have a synergy that makes them each sound, and I suspect, play better. On a scale of 1-5 Marshall Stacks, this show was a 6.

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