Jesu

Jesu

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AllMusic Review by

Justin Broadrick is a busy man. Which might come as a surprise to anyone who delves into the devastatingly deep, dark world of Jesu. After a listen to Jesu's self-titled first album one would expect the man to be too depressed to get up off the floor. But after a series of incarnations -- grindcore godfathers Napalm Death and Head of David, proto-industrialists Godflesh, free jazz metalists God, dub-hop pioneers Ice, and the ambient electronic Techno Animal and Final -- it appears that Broadrick works out his angst by being prolific. And Jesu does indeed come off like therapy through sound, as lying under the surface of these bleak dirges lies an elegiac subcurrent than can be as uplifting as the angelic hymns of Sigur Rós. In fact, that Icelandic band's soothing soundscapes can be seen as the yin to Jesu's yang, the light to Jesu's dark, the white angel wings to Jesu's black pits of the underworld. But that is where any connection ends, because Jesu is anything but treacle. The songs here seek to render rib cages and remove still-beating hearts for close inspection, to discover the exact nature and location of the human soul, even if it means sure death in the process. Bludgeoning down-tuned slowcore metal, electronic noise squalls and squelch, droning organs sounding like church bells, hair-raising discordant synth stabs, martial drumming and fuzzed-out electronic rhythms, and indecipherable ennui-laden vocals all serve to cater to fans of the experimental metal of bands like Isis, Neurosis, and Pelican. Another unlikely comparison is the Cure's Pornography, with its layers and layers of echo, dense guitar and keyboard textures, funereal pace, and vocals saturated with existential dread. Song titles point to the obvious obsessions of the depressive: nihilism and misanthropy ("Friends Are Evil," "Tired of Me," "We All Faulter") and religious iconography ("Guardian Angel," "Walk on Water," "Your Path to Divinity"). Jesu's trip is a dark and lonely one, but those who survive the path through darkness are granted a glimpse of the light at journey's end.

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