September 16, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

In this ongoing era of musical oversaturation, oblivious and obvious genre complacency and stark convention that sometimes feels like an endless loop of the same shit in a slightly different box, there are very few, if any, artists who are truly peerless. Think about it: When was the last time you heard a new band and instantly thought it was unlike anything you’d ever heard before? While familiarity breeds comfort, and comfort can be a good thing, do we really want all of our music to be compromising and unchallenging? Has innovation been stifled by the allure of safety?

One band never stuck to genre convention, though, opting instead to invent a new subgenre at a time when hardcore was at it peak of perpetually taking itself far too seriously. Born no doubt out of a need for a fresh take on the straight edge movement spearheaded by Minor Threat in the early 1980s, Jud Jud turned the genre on its head, stripping away the pretension, militance and bullshit in favor of something far more engrossing and cerebral. The result, an all-out, riff-heavy a capella assault, has not been recreated since and likely never will be. They were, and are, without peer.

Steve Heritage of Floridian grindcore enthusiasts Assück—you may remember them from such back patches as the one sewn onto the denim vest of that kid who sat in front of you in eighth grade history class—started Jud Jud in 1986 along with another tongue-lashing virtuoso known only as “B.” Their intent was clear: To write and record the heaviest hardcore possible using only vocals. Guitar? Passé, an instrument played by FM-radio dominating, drug-addled dads. Bass? Bass anchored sex music and promoted promiscuity, which at the time was still largely a no-no in the straight edge community. Drums? Drums were expensive. Jud Jud didn’t need any albatrosses around their neck, as the pressure would impact the band’s ability to mouth their songs.

Assuming that Jud Jud’s music is one-dimensional based on the lack of instruments would be foolhardy. Throughout their discography, which spans across two collections and 18 songs, the band expertly counter their powerful juds with devastatingly heavy, gruff wahnanas, melodic donananas, tongue-rumbling brubububububs (the double bass breakdown of a capella music) and even the occasional high-pitched squeal. It’s riveting. Listening to it, unlike an estimated 98% of current music, requires one’s undivided attention. This is hardcore that truly, effortlessly stops a listener in his or her tracks.

With the proliferation of reunions in hardcore and other subgenres of punk in recent years, it would seem that a Jud Jud reunion is all but inevitable. As a band who even now are ahead of their time, a final curtain call may be just the jolt the hardcore scene needs to escape its current rut.

You can buy Jud Jud’s X The Demos X 7-inch from No Idea Records.