It's fascinating watching a professional wrestler break into mainstream entertainment, or any medium where he doesn't have to shred his body to eek out a living. Mickey Rourke's incredible portrayal of Randy "The Ram" Robinson in "The Wrestler", a film based on the secret lives of numerous pro grapplers of yesteryear (some folks attesting the late Sylvester Ritter, aka Junkyard Dog), taught us that wrestling is a brutal way to earn a paycheck.
When Hulk Hogan unleashed Hulkamania worldwide, you couldn't turn your head anywhere without finding his bronzed biker face and flexed pythons gleaming back at you. While most of Hogan's doings outside of the then-called WWF were hella-cheesy, the "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling" cartoon is the stuff of greater infamy than his dark side NWO sanction, what rooty poo candy ass doesn't like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson?
We also have Chris Jericho, who has turned a hard rock experiment into a long-running, viable commodity. Seriously, did anyone ever think FOZZY would make it to its seventh album?
The whole prospect made sense ever since wrestler entrance themes became less posh and comedic and more agro. Every wrestler who didn't opt for a hip hop promenade wanted his own version of MOTORHEAD's "The Game", which helped light up Triple H's explosive skulks to the ring. Chris Jericho, one of the quicker and flashier characters in pro-wrestling history, was a natural candidate to take a stab at rock music. Whether you're a fan or not, give him some cred. This was a bigger upset of the odds than the Strongbows taking the tag-team belts from Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito. Old school, baby.
Even before FOZZY's newest album, "Judas", hit the streets in October, the title track blitzed to the fore as Sirius XM's number one rock song; a second single, "Drinkin' with Jesus" quickly followed. Jericho and his founding partner Rich Ward, STUCK MOJO, are on fire, suffice it to say. Old-school promotion, baby.
If there's any differences to "Judas" as an album, it's that it's occasionally heavier (i.e. "Running with the Bulls" and the perfectly nasty ""Wolves at Bay"), but at large, it's status quo with one polished blast of agro pop after another. The title track has a massive swing and a gluey chorus as Chris Jericho suavely snarls and wails his way into your throat along the trail of Paul Di Leo's bass grooves. The peppy and grimy "Drinkin' with Jesus" has been done to death by FOZZY's numerous contemporaries, straight down to the replicated chunk chord patterns and stereotypical skid mark at the end of a bar. Still, there's something stupidly fun about "Drinkin' with Jesus" that puts a cheeky foot over the line of sacrilege without going too far—though it's not necessarily advisable to enter the confessional and utter, "Father forgive me, I got fucked up with Jesus last night."
"Painless", "Three Days in Jail" and "Capsized" ride some of the same tired tropes already staked out by SEVENDUST and NONPOINT. Yet, there are some worthwhile moments to this album, like "Burn Me Out", which carries a pumping dance groove and blatant pop sway that works beneath its stealthy burp chords. Call it Chris Jericho's Gaga moment. Before that, "Weight of My World" also shakes its ass, but with a harder groove and gnarly riffs with a subliminal funk thread whisking behind it all. It's by far the most interesting track on "Judas", outside of the title cut.
Rich Ward is still a fret blazer, peeling off tasty licks and wicked solos (most impressively on "Wordsworth Way") while Chris Jericho re-establishes himself as a unique voice in far-too-familiar terrain. What FOZZY is doing may be redundant, but the argument that it's working can't be taken away. It's certainly less painful than pulling off wrestling moves, finishers like Walls of Jericho, aka "Liontamers."