Trio Christopher David, Damian James and Brian Veit released their third full length album as Judith in October, 2001. Play of Light builds upon the past work of Judith, which includes the previous 1998 La Reveuse* which has created a lot of apprehension as fans awaited this next release. Adding more of a melodic overtone to their previous work, Play of Light shows Judith's definite refinement and maturity. The production as a-plus, the sound quality is top notch and the arrangements are beautifully created, remaining edgy and razor sharp while blending all the instruments closer together into a much more polished sound than previous works.
Christopher David's voice is a powerful baritone that is even, strong and carries extremely well. This latest outing by Judith continues their reign as one of the most talented gothic rock style bands of the past decade. David's vocals are true and unwavering, lacking vibrato so that he can achieve sound of power and doing so well. The arrangement of the music is also well done, harkening back to more classical styles and applying all instruments with a strength and clarity while not overshadowing any. Guitars, bass, vocals, percussion - all keep a steady pace with each other; holding their own yet blending wonderfully. Clearly Christopher David's singing is a highlight portion of Judith's body of work.
There's plenty of tracks here that would fit extremely well within the playlists of mainstream radio, and likewise you can hear them on many college and alternative stations. Yet all retain a darker edge helped along by David's deep voice. Judith has also appeared at a number of American and European venues, so they're well-traveled and play live often. From Blackout A.D. to Whitby Gothic Weekend, The Italian Ascension of the Gods Open Air Festival and the Hall of Dreams Festival in Portugal. They've done all these, and are also planning a two-continent tour in support of the new Play of Light CD.
Favorites on Play Of Light, besides the title track which is quite good, include Switchblade for it's pleasing tone, excellent guitar arrangements including wailing yet controlled solo style notes that you can easily hear rising on high. You clearly hear this work, but at the same time it's part of the musical arrangement and blends with it while still retaining its individuality. This is an example of Judith's gorgeous arrangement style - while all instruments retain a sense of themselves, they all are part of something bigger than they could be alone. As another example of the wonderful guitars, the closing guitar solo of La Bella is slow, morose and plucked from the guitar lightly and accurately.
Fields of Green is another favorite, one of the swifter moving tracks on the album. Another example of great musical arrangement with its smooth rock musicality built around a framework of classical style and creation. Also a word - actually a whole bunch of them - needs to be said about the eighth track; Seeing Sun. Slow piano and windy background synthesizer chords open a moody piece of beautiful sound. Christopher David tones his voice to a mere whisper - a far off call. And suddenly, after a short break, Seeing Sun slides into a guitar laden dirge of energy. They close Play of Light with the powerful Drop of Passion. This is alternative rock if ever their was, with hints of modern movements built around a dark tone of moroseness. Latter portions of the song become rhythmically challenging and explore synthesizer chorales before breaking into one of the cleanest, tightest and well executed guitar solos I've had the pleasure to hear in a while.
For alternative rock with a Victorian flair, check out the latest by Judith. If you like work by This Ascension, Eyes of Pandora and other on-the-edge dark rock, you'll love Play of Light.
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* Reviewed in Legends #100, July 2000.