The world of hardcore punk is, like any subculture, a lot weirder than you might imagine. It’s easy for outsiders to write the whole thing off as a bunch of hyper-aggressive dudes recycling repetitive, same-y riffs for the last couple of decades, but the sound can be just as multifaceted and experimental as any other genre out there, if you know where to look. Jud Jud is one such project, an a cappella hardcore band that is part loving parody, part endurance test for listeners, and all straight edge.
Straight edge hardcore is a subset of the genre that is easily teased, with albums, bands, entire record labels dedicated to celebrating the act of not drinking or doing drugs. Jud Jud took this concept to its logical extreme: they were so straight edge, they didn’t even play instruments. No lyrics, either, just two voices repeating a series of monosyllabic sound, punctuated by the occasional feedback screech, drum fill, or cymbal crash.
Every Jud Jud song follows the same rough format: two band’s two pseudonymous vocalists, Steve Heritage and B., each in their own channel, trade off “Jud”s, “wah na na”s and “dun dun dun”s a bunch of times, imitating the iconic chug of the typical hardcore song. Track lengths vary from under 5 seconds to almost two minutes. Track titles further lampoon hardcore punk tropes with names like “Bass In The Beginning Song” and “High Hat Song,” but don’t write this off as some exclusive in-joke. It’s a goofy concept, a joke that anyone can wrap their heads around, done with such precision that it could have only come from true believers.
A lot of heavy music can seem overly serious and unapproachable, and novel acts like Jud Jud provide some much needed levity. Other genre-expanding adventures in heavy music include Ink & Dagger (a vampire themed hardcore band that at one point featured Eric Wareheim on guitar), a split release from Hatebeak (the death metal band fronted by a parrot), Caninus (a deathgrind band featuring vocals from a pair of pit bulls, Basil and Budgie) and Compressorhead (an instrumental rock band whose members are all robots built from recycled metal). But for all the gimmicks, goofs, and joke bands, nobody beats the simplicity and efficiency of Jud Jud.