By Amirose Eisenbach
If you don’t believe a violin and a cello can shred as hard as a guitar, then you are in for a surprise. The band Judgment Day, composed of brothers Anton and Lewis Patzner and Jon Bush, proves that alternative string instruments can deliver the necessary intensity to captivate.
Dubbed "string metal," the Bay Area based trio produces a raw sound that’s spellbinding and innovative. Since audience members often suffer shock upon discovering that guitars are not present in the instrument roster, the band decided to include the words, "there are no guitars in Judgment Day" in the album’s liner notes.
The Patzner brothers were trained in classical music and influenced by their parents, who are also musicians. Lewis has been playing the cello since he was in second grade. Anton has been playing the violin since he was in fourth grade and has toured with the emo-indie band, Bright Eyes. Combine these two musical veterans with drummer Jon Bush, who has been playing for 10 years, and you have the hypnotic cadence that is known as Judgment Day.
Even if "string metal" isn’t your thing, it doesn’t take long to realize that these guys have created something that’s tangible, original, and ignited.
"We really want to give people a high-energy, intense experience that gets your blood flowing," Anton said. "We try to be intellectually stimulating with our music."
The spectacle of watching a violin and cello rip incredibly hard is indeed stimulating, to say the least.
The Patzner brothers have been spotted playing on Pacific Avenue, Porter College, and other local spots in Santa Cruz. Anton and Bush are alumni of UC Santa Cruz and Lewis is currently finishing music school back east at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. But whatever their location, the audience response has collectively been one of awe.
Ricky Farrell, a fourth-year UCSC student, is a big supporter of Judgment Day.
"They rock so hard, it’s an amazing feeling and actually visceral to watch them play," Farrell said.
Bush is proud to be part of Judgment Day. "Music has been the most important thing in my life up to this point," Bush said. Some of the major musical influences in Bush’s career include Nirvana, Sound Garden, Tool, and The Mars Volta.
"I’m not classically trained like the Patzner brothers and I feel very fortunate to be playing with them," Bush said.
The group’s first album, Dark Opus, which they recorded and produced themselves, was released at the end of 2004.
"This was a project to challenge us and we learned a lot from it," Anton said. The album is a melodious fusion of hard rock, metal, and classical influences that restores the listener’s faith in the new exploration of sound. Filled with fiery emotion and unpredictable rhythmic measures, the album reveals much insight into the many dimensions of musical composition.
What separates these talented musicians from millions of others out there is how humble and dedicated they are. The band members express a lack of interest in signing with a major label. They are a hundred percent devoted to making music they enjoy and have not evolved into victims of conformity due to popular demand.
"It’s not so clear cut what you have to do in music," Lewis said. "You just do what you do and if you’re lucky, you’ll like it and other people will like it too."