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MUSIC: JUDGEMENT DAY | By Jonathan Hirsch

SHIFTING FOCUS: A DECADE OF STRING METAL

The challenge in writing about Judgement Day is deciding which of the band’s incredible qualities to highlight. So let’s start with the basics. First, it’s a string metal band—yes, string metal—which means, in no uncertain terms, that the members use traditional instruments to shred you into oblivion. Second, this band is not just a chance meeting of two incredible players with shared interests. Violinist Anton and cellist Lewis are, as it turns out, brothers.

The Patzner brothers’ work was founded in the musical tradition of their family. Individually, the two players possess an astonishing list of credentials, but of equal importance is the band’s ethos. These guys have been trailblazing the self-starter independent musician ethic for over 10 years—their whole lives, one could say. While no one thing wholly qualifies them, a pattern does emerge: the Patzners are a wellspring of virtuosity. Their collaboration highlights the kind of music and skill that can truly carry a name as final and unequivocal as Judgement Day.

Although they have been performing now for over nine years, Anton and Lewis took diverging musical paths before the inception of their band in its current form.

“Lewis and I grew up in this crazy classical world of private lessons once a week, orchestra rehearsals, recitals, and lots and lots of practicing,” Anton explains. “Our parents are both classical musicians, so they made sure we took it seriously. That’s pretty much what childhood is like for anyone who ends up becoming a professional classical player. Lewis continued on in college, going to conservatory and practicing hard. He’s a pro classical guy now. I went to UC Santa Cruz and partied and played in bluegrass and hip-hop bands. It’s cool that we have that foundation in common but maybe even cooler that we had some different experiences. You can hear all of those different influences on our records.”

In 2003, Anton and Lewis began playing with drummer John Smith. They have since seen their music grow and change over time in a number of dramatic ways. In the beginning, though, they used the term “string metal” to describe their music.

“String metal is a classification we came up with way back in 2003 when we were trying to decide on a web URL,” says Anton. “JudgementDay.com was already taken, and StringMetal.com seemed like a pretty accurate description of what we were doing at the time: fast songs in minor keys with lots of distortion, loud drums, and titles like ‘Seventh Circle,’ ‘Inferno,’ and ‘Pitfires of Hell.’ Since then, I think our music has diversified quite a bit. These days we’re all about bending and blending genres.”

Their most recent album, Polar Shift, was released in July 2012 and is a signpost of the band’s evolution. “The biggest difference is that the new album is about 90 percent unplugged,” says Anton. “I love putting my violin through pedals and amps and experimenting with tones, but it was a fun challenge to try to make an album with just acoustic violin and cello and drums. It’s the first full-length we’ve made where I don’t think everyone is going to be asking us, ‘Who’s playing guitar?’

“It’s pretty crazy what happens when three dudes play music together for 10 years,” says Anton. “You start to be able to read each other’s minds, especially live. I think we are probably the only violin/cello/drums power trio that has been playing together for so long. It’s an exciting frontier to be on.” An exciting frontier, indeed, and one we hope to be following Judgement Day along for many years to come.

 

 

 

 



 

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This article was published in:
Music Issue - Released January 2013
Issue 1 / Version 3 | Buy print copy here
Issue 11
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