We review the new album from Zen Juddhism – Return of the Juddha

Return of the Juddah’ sees Southampton-based guitarist and songwriter Jude Ωne Eight back with another collaborative instalment in his Zen Juddhism series.

This latest release is the final chapter in the trilogy after 2014’s self-titled ‘Zen Juddhism’ followed by ‘…Vol.2’ in 2016 respectively – and once again, Jude provides us with a compilation of sorts.
Like an 11-track whistle-stop tour of rock, we visit various sub-genres and influences along the way. And I’d say it’s a journey worth taking. Whilst truly celebrating the pure joy of the genre, this record also manages not to take itself too seriously.

But that’s not to say it’s not a serious effort. As before, an army of fellow musicians have been recruited – including some familiar voices in Opkar Hans, Naomi Terry and Pammie who all appeared on previous records – plus some new names in the mix, with Del Malcolm and Daniel Bateman lending vocals. These singers breathe a certain life and personality into Jude’s lyricism which comments on the state of the world today and the spectrum of human emotion; pain, frustration, love and hope.

Opener ‘Love Will Save the Day’ which features Pammie’s incredibly biting vocals is a definite stand-out and it’s no surprise it was selected as a single. As the title would suggest it’s lyrically uplifting, yet seemingly melancholic in its sound – there’s a wavy, off-beat, jagged quality to this one which is complimented by a guitar that cuts deep. A melody sure to stick in your head.

Fellow single track ‘Glitter’ is also of note. Starting off punchy in the verses, it seamlessly slides into a reggae-inspired rhythm on the chorus as Opkar Hans of Kinesis 4 sings “It doesn’t glitter, but it’s gold”. But that’s just one example of the genre-hopping melting pot this record comprises.

Track 3 ‘Pain’ with its spoken word verses bring to mind an Ian Dury (and the Blockheads) vibe. ‘I Am A Man’ elicits an early 70’s heavy rock flavour bringing Deep Purple and even AC/DC guitars topped with a Led Zepp vocal in the chorus.

Track 10 ‘Ten Years’ feels like a true tribute to Bowie, in particular reminiscent of his gifted track ‘All The Young Dudes’ made famous by Mott The Hoople. Whereas closer ‘Test’ could be an unheard Blondie B-side with vocalist Naomi Terry giving Debbie Harry a run for her money.

It’d be true to say that ‘Return of the Juddha’ is made for rock lovers by rock lovers. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, yet incredibly polished – this passion project doesn’t bring anything necessarily new to the table, but damn is it creative. Rather than ‘old-fashioned’, this collection of tracks cements a trilogy paying homage to the diversity of rock music. All backed by the stellar guitar work and vision of Jude Ωne Eight.