Jugulator - Under The Verdict

Sometimes less is more, and that’s exactly what fans get from the 2nd full length album by Algeria’s thrash group Jugulator. The album is chock full of great mid paced riffs and a mix between a Metallica meets Iced Earth- think a sound from the eras of “Death Magnetic” and “The Dark Saga.” Jugulator do follow the usual thrash tropes of making the riffs a little bit repetitive but still catchy, much in the vein of Slayer, but using the vocals especially to try to breathe some life into the genre with that throaty singing as opposed to the usual high pitched bark or shriek that so many listeners are used to in the vein of Exodus or Megadeth. While “Under The Verdict” is not a speed thrash album, it has its fast moments. ‘Blood On The Red Flag” has some excellent drumming to go with the solos and overall keeps up with the pace of the guitars. The riffs are not the most original here but once cannot deny their impact such as the closing ones. Other tracks like 'Strangers Conflict' are more the cookie cutter style of thrash with an even pace all the way through, letting the vocals carry the weight of the music with the throaty singing. The fine line between rock and metal is pretty much straddled here so listeners will need to keep an open mind to enjoy that this is not wholly pure thrash or rock. Some might argue that this album could be Jugulator’s “Reload,” but “Under The Verdict” still hits harder than that.

One thing Jugulator continues to do well with their work is push more towards epic territory- for better or worse results. ‘Civil War’ is their longest song to date and pretty much carries on at a mid to slow pace. It isn’t the hardest song on the album and while its riffs are interesting in their eastern style (perhaps a throwback to the band’s earlier days as Curse Of Pharoah) that’s about all the originality it holds. This is a prime example of good an bad for the group; good that they are pushing boundaries but bad that they also sound like there is a bit of filler or rehash to keep things going. Other tracks like ‘Sunseth’ are more restrained, follow the same pattern, but are much more effective. ‘Crysis’ is perhaps the best track on the album as Jugulator make it almost a full instrumental with limited vocal work which lets fans really absorb the musicianship. The slow sections complement the slow, dark churning riffs that carry the song and probably features some of the more haunting tones that could be compared to the ‘Dark Saga’ sound references by Iced Earth.

‘Nuclearus’ ends things on a heavy note with the same drumming ferocity that is heard on ‘Blood On The Red Flag.’ Here the solos are more layered, more intense, and more in the vein of what most thrash fans would expect as opposed to the slower pieces presented so far. Overall the album isn’t too much of a deviation from what Jugulator has done so far, and is a solid continuation of their efforts. It falls somewhere in the middle as far as decent thrash. “Under The Verdict” is not a carbon copy of any particular band but it also doesn’t have quite enough to stand out to be a wow factor. Still, those who like their thrash mid paced to slow and with plenty of dark riffs and haunting, rather than annoying, vocals will find it quite enjoyable.

3 / 5 STARS

1. Strangers Conflict
2. Who Will Save Us
3. Civil War
4. Sunseth
5. Crysis
6. Blood On The Red Flag
7. Nuclearus

Self released
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Jan 27, 2022

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