Jesu Jesu

[Hydrahead; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: metal, doom, post rock, shoegazer
Others: Pelican, Isis, Hum, Centaur, Godflesh

Until recently I had only been vaguely familiar with the work of Napalm Death and Godflesh. That's to say I never took the time to actually research their histories or biographies. It turns out Justin Broadrick is the founding member of both bands and his since moved on from each band. But despite the fact that he's been working in music so long that his welcome may seem outworn, his devoted fans still can't seem to get enough of his music. The overwhelming response to his latest project, Jesu, is no exception and will undoubtedly uncover a lot more about him than most of us are aware.

In attempting to gather some information about the history of Broadrick, I couldn't help but notice message boards lighting up and fans constantly praising his new project. Admittedly, I am not one that belongs to the list of devoted followers, nor am I wholly versed in the (apparently) vast amount of influence he's had on metal music, but I can certainly appreciate the dedication of his followers and the feelings I get from listening to this new material.

If you are familiar with the recent work of labelmates, Pelican, you'll be in tune with what's going on here. Jesu's music is intense, utilizing atmospheric effects to carry the weight of the album. To go a step further would be to call it a doom metal album met with the heady aesthetic of My Bloody Valentine. But contrary to this comparison, Jesu meets us with an emotionally charged affection that is still rarely heard in guitar-heavy albums.

One doesn't simply listen to Jesu; rather, it is absorbed as it washes over you in layers of temperate colors. These songs are lengthy with pleasant repetition, which allows them time to breathe and induces a trance effect. A perfect example of this comes near the end, with "Sun Day." This song is decidedly one of the heaviest tracks of the bunch, yet I'm still drawn to the emotive qualities that keep it from crossing over to the aggressive side of metal. And it's this difference that makes Jesu such a welcomed change from the norm.

By the end, the unexpected becomes the expected. There are no surprises hidden underneath the layers of sound, just infectious shoegazer doom that lends itself well to many repeated listens. While I may have heard a Godflesh album or two, this material is unquestionably more up my alley. However, because I've admitted that I'm not one of those fans who have followed Broadrick's career with a microscope, I may just have to find some time to delve into a few of his side-projects to see if he truly is the metal icon his fans make him out to be.

1. Your Path to Divinity
2. Friends Are Evil
3. Tired of Me
4. We All Falter
5. Walk on Water
6. Sun Day
7. Man/Woman
8. Guardian Angel

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