on 16 June 2005
Where Godflesh were perhaps the ultimate urban band (more so than any rotten punk band), Jesu are at least one of the ultimate rural, pastoral bands. Listen to this album on headphones while watching the sun rise, and I swear to God, you will never feel more in awe of nature; how beautiful and how terrible it is. No small achievement.
Where Swans are occasionally too arch and stagey, and Neurosis too introverted, Justin Broadrick makes this kind of thing accessible as well as impossibly dense. The mudslide of guitar here recalls My Bloody Valentine, but more so. In fact, Kevin Shields would quail at the maelstrom at some points, especially the most Godflesh-like song, 'Man/Woman', wherein a swarm of guttural voices from some godawful hovering abyss hector some poor person about being "faceless, dead-eyed". (My guess is the target is a record company drone who stiffed Godflesh back in 2001.)
'Sun Day' and especially 'Tired Of Me' are among the saddest songs I've ever heard, but they don't seem depressed as much as sheerly exhausted. Listening to them recalls Jonathan Selzer (of Terrorizer magazine)'s oft-reiterated claim that only through absolute surrender can you find absolution, and Broadrick seems readier to do this than ever before. Consequently, the darkness is always tinged with a ray of hope, a faith that once one finally transcends the self - the 'Flesh? - one will attain some kind of peace. My Bloody Valentine never had this kind of emotional impact, either.
The sequencing is a bit out of whack - the weakest songs are the opening and closing ones, which really ought to be the strongest, if you think about it - but that's a distinctly minor nitpick. And 8 songs stretched over 74 minutes is a bit...too much. But that's always been a Broadrick thang.
Nevertheless, this is highly recommended, especially if you think emotional heavy music is something confined only to (gag) Life Of Agony, Coheed And Cambria, and their self-pitying ilk. This crushes any and all 'emo' effortlessly. Nice one (again), Jus.
on 8 May 2005
Jesu are something of a musical enigma; as with the debut 'Heartache' ep, the sound (barely)contained on this plastic, mass produced disc tries to pass itself off as just a good metal record, with its doomy rumblings and skull crushing, dissonant intros. However, whilst this is all well and good, Jesu are something a little more special than that. They are actually quite astonishing in their provocation of emotion - speaking as a lifelong metal fan, i can still safely say that I cannot recall having been so moved by a record that most would term metal. The crushing doom of the distorted guitars is a backdrop for gorgeous, despondant and utterly hypnotic vocal and guitar harmonies, JK Broadricks frail, resigned voice transmitting a very human beauty across the atonal void of his guitars. Whilst we have heard hints of this brilliance in Cult of Luna's 'Salvation', and its ilk, never has the simultaneous interplay between fragility and bruised but ferocious noise been so mesemerising, so directly corresponding to particular emotions. Because of its sheer emotional honesty and the depths of inner horror it suggests, 'jesu' is not an easy record to get through, despite how hypnotic it is. It may even make you cry. But underneath all the sound and fury is an intelligence, honesty and beauty that will stay with those brave enough to tackle this album for a long time to come. Its stayed with me, anyway.
on 3 March 2005
This album is a continuation of some of the themes Justin Broadrick explored with Godflesh to their logical conclusion. Although shorter than the "songs" appearing on the Heartache ep, tracks on Jesu still hang in at around 8-10 minutes creating hypnotic and melancholy atmospheres, that extend from some of my favourite Godflesh moments. Although beautiful and ambient, this is not too say that this album is not punishing and emotionally demanding. Rythmically quite slow and repetetive, topped over with hard bass lines and continuosly shifting guitar patterns drenched in well executed feedback, this is very expressive music that demonstrates Broadricks obvious talent for composition. Musical reference points are definitely any other work by Broadrick, Hydrahead Records (Isis, Pelican), Neurosis, and Swans. My only complaint would be that the restrained vocals are occaisionally a bit wobbly, but it all adds to the charm of this excellent debut album. I'll be looking forward to the next...
on 12 January 2010
Broadrick, Jesu's creator, is a man of many talents. A lot of the influence behind this band is seemingly taken from his previous project, the legendary Godflesh. Even the name of the band is taken from a song by his illustrious industrial band. The significance of this influence is paramount to the sound of Jesu and my review since the band are merely an evolved state of Godflesh, in my eyes. When Broadrick released `Heart Ache', a fantastically powerful EP in 2004, Jesu were his own creation. He was a one man band, controlling ever facet of experimentation. There have been complaints from fans and non-fans about Broadrick's unconventional style, resulting in a war of words between two separate parties. Some suggest Broadrick is untalented, whilst the rest argue the case that he is a musical genius. A lot of the criticisms labelled at the early material seem rather unjust, in my view. The band were formed in 2004 and recorded the first EP in the same year. There wasn't much time for Broadrick to make the adjustments from industrial metal to industrial based drone. The two are very contrasting genres, however much they like to incorporate themes of industrial. `Heart Ache' was said to have a poor production and inept musicianship since there were problems with sound effects and instrumentation, particularly present in the piano passages on the second song of the EP. However, in my own opinion, I believe there is a certain charm to Broadrick's unique style. His whimsical soundscapes are as heavy as a heavy thing and mesmerise to the point of hypnotism. There is a strength present in the constant thudding of the instrumentation that gives this record, the self-titled debut, a hearty backbone that allows the record to base the rest of its material on.
Drone was never a easy genre to become established in. The meaty guitars and gigantic soundscapes are sometimes too much for people to handle, but given the right state of mind, this record has the ability to enforce its emotional vulnerability on to the listener and make them feel the pain that this record is based around. Whilst I myself don't consider Broadrick to be a genius, I do consider him to have reasonable cult status and for good reasons. His sound, particularly early on, was one that seemed unparalleled. He creates distinctive drone soundscapes using a minimalist approach. The emotional complexities of the self-titled piece make up for the lack of real creativity, though there is a certain visionary skill in being able to produce something as expressive as this. I don't hereby claim that Jesu's debut is the best thing known to man, but I do state that this honest portrayal of emotions is a worthwhile listen. In actual fact, I do love this record, but for personal reasons and can accept the fact that it will not appeal to everyone, therefore a lot of my judgment is being based on that. I think there is a unique dynamism in the approach, which is consistent, if not a little repetitive (though I am used to that myself, I understand this will grate on some people's nerves). The record is built on slow impacting sections which drown out the thoughts of the listener in the shape of a rumbling earthquake like sound in the guitars. The guitars are perhaps the most pivotal section of the record since they create a fair amount of the atmosphere surrounding the songs. Epics like the emotionally raw `Tired of Me' are good examples of this wall-of-noise cliché that Jesu build their songs around.
The guitars, reinforced by powerful percussion that includes impressionable hi-hat and cymbal sections that wash over the listener like forceful waves of melancholy, mixed with angst. There are many raw qualities to this record, which in turn makes it sound even more unique against its peers. The constant rumbling sound, for instance, was a first for me to hear in this manner. It plays an imperative role in creating the wall that was previously mentioned. The bass, which is audible, though not as important to Jesu as the guitars or the esoteric programming, is accredited for some of the ample soundscapes. Broadrick's vocals are very strong. Although he's not the greatest vocalist in the world, his melodic and honest voice bounces well off the gigantic distortion caused by the guitars and systematic percussion. His voice doesn't reach as high as others' might do, but he's consistent and puts a lot of emotion into his performance, which is all you can ask for. His lush vocals tend to lull the listener into a hazy reality which boarders on the fictional. Listening to him can be equated to reading something like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. His voices takes you to surreal places and on vast journey's across barren landscapes and through majestic forests, `Sun Day' would be a good example of this. There are a number of clichés which can be used to describe the Jesu self-titled epic, like a rollercoaster of emotions. Much of the material seems to be based on creating a low feeling in the listener and ebbing it throughout their body with the vibrations of the constant distortion which plagues the listener throughout. Although no one likes to feel low, Jesu make it sound desirable, which is why I keep coming back to this record, years after having heard it for the first time. Even the lyrics show a significant pattern in Jesu's material, showcasing the undertow of the record with a splice of negativity. `We All Faulter' is a great example of this;
"And you're a disease,
but you're a disease that I'm underneath.
And you're just like,
and you're just like all the rest.
'Cause we all falter."
Highlights; `Tired of Me' and the enormous `Sun Day'.
on 12 August 2009
jesu's 'Jesu' is an atmospheric monster of an album, easily one of the best JK Broadrick albums we've ever had the good fortune of receiving. The sheer weight of this album hits you like a sledgehammer. The down tuned rythym guitars are pummelling as they churn alongside the crashing live drums. But there is another layer of guitars that glides over the heaviness and that creates this intense beauty throughout most of the songs, none more evident than on the grinding, haunting epic 'Walk on Water'. 'Friends Are Evil' might just be the thing JKB has done. It is grower that becomes unforgettable. You have to listen to it, loudly, over and over and then you'll understand. Other highlights include 'We All Faulter' and 'Man/Woman' which features JKB singing in his old Godflesh aggressive style. A moody stomper of a beast! This is without a doubt the best jesu LP so far and along with 'Heart Ache' and 'Silver' the best of jesu. Ever since it's been hit and miss. If you like the wussy jesu split EP's of 2008 you probably won't like this but if you want to hear what jesu can really offer and an album that will only get better with each blast, this is your prize. It's downbeat vibe is uplifting. Solid gold.
on 19 May 2005
This is a 5 star CD. It's absolutely fantastic, mindblowingly beautiful, epic in scope, intensely emotional...
But I've also heard these songs live, and let me tell you, it's about 500 times as loud, 500 times as intense, and 500 times as emotional.. Oh, and that many times as beautiful and epic, too. Basically, these songs are great on CD and even better live.
I recently saw Jesu supporting Isis and they made Isis sound disappointing. DISAPPOINTING. I mean, this is ISIS we're talking about.
on 11 January 2011
I loved this album as soon as i heard the first track, some times you have to play some albums a few times before you like them. I love the track tired of me, makes me feel sad but i like it, but all the tracks are good. Most tracks are bit slow but its nice music, i play this over and over I shall buy more Jesu More! MUST BUY!!!!.......
Rather surprisingly, despite being a long time Godflesh fan and having been blown away by Jesu's debut Heart Ache EP, I must admit that I found Jesu's debut full-length album to be slightly underwhelming. Picked out individually, most of the tracks here are excellent - my problem is that the album as a whole is very lacking in variety, with almost all the songs being virtually interchangeable, made up of very slow beats and huge apocalyptic 4-chord sequences overlaid with Justin's mournful melodic vocals, with only penultimate track Man/Woman changing the formula with a much needed dose of old Goldflesh-style spite and aggression. I know Jesu is supposed to be a more pastoral blissed-out version of Godflesh, and are aiming to hypnotise the listener with these massive looped riffs, but I'm afraid track after track of the same musical idea can lead to boredom setting in as well. To make a truly great Jesu album Broadrick is going to have to add some variety to the mix rather than just repeat the same song half a dozen times. Jesu is by no means a truly bad album, and is still essential listening for all Godflesh fans, but in all honesty this doesn't come near to Broadrick's best work.
NB - If you can find/afford it try and get the Japanese version, which contains an extra 2 song 20-minute CD featuring some excellent instrumental remixes.
on 4 April 2005
I can only say what i think from a personal point of view, but this album is such a let down! It never kicks off, its like the whole album (and its a pretty long album at that) never gets off the ground. It threatens too at numerous points, but the third track is about 9 minutes long, if i remember rightly, and its the same, slow pace, no depth to the song, very depressing, all the way through. Im guessing this is what their trying to do because everyone seems to love them, but i love isis, cult of luna and pelican, and these guys are just not in the same sort of league. When CoL play, you can feel the bass, and hear the power in those drums...the drummer in jesu constanly taps his symbols for an hour!