The prolific Justin Broadrick may well be one of the most influential men in the world of metal. Helping forge a path for Grindcore with his work with the infamous Napalm Death, pioneering Industrial Metal in Godflesh and bringing joy and woe to anyone willing to listen in his many other projects. Always at the forefront of whatever genre he decides to play, he sling-shot Jesu to centre stage with their first full-length album and attention has continued to garner for the band since then. I’m now here to see that this continues.
I have always found Drone-Doom Metal to be a very split genre. In my eyes, there are two main camps, the bands utilising very minimalist, low, dirgy drones reminiscent of slowed down riffs, such as Sunn O))), and the groups which produce a much more ambient experience, with flowing soundscapes, a very shoegaze-y feel and subtle melodies, like Nadja. I have always preferred the latter category and Jesu undoubtedly belong alongside the best in that section.
There is a huge emphasis on layers in the release, high register melodies are hidden behind low drones, making the listener really need to dig themselves into the music to fully appreciate what is happening. When you manage to do this, the effect is truly fantastic; the music washes over you, trance-inducing and beautiful.
Guitars are the most prominent instruments, with bass and standard guitars mostly dominating the mix alongside many samples (did you really expect no industrial influence?). The tone varies all over the place, the lower register parts are played with deep, heavy distortion and the higher tones are relatively clean (still lots of effects though).
Drums are rather minimal here, they are featured often, but used most of the time just for emphasis on some of the notes. Militaristic snare usage is found near the end of “Tired Of Me” which was an interesting idea also implemented cleverly.
Vocals are very few and far between, mainly used as another instrument rather than taking the front. Clean vocals are used nearly exclusively, bar “Man/Woman” which uses more half-shouts. Whenever the vocals are used, effects are extensive, with delay and reverb pretty much coming hand-in-hand with the vox sections and even some pitch modulation makes an appearance. Lyrics are not printed in the linear notes, and sensibly so. Do you print the sheet music for the songs in the notes? No, so when the vocals are similarly used, why print the lyrics?
When you first look at this release, you may find it lacking in substance with its long, repeated ostinatos and sparse vocals and drumming, but if you look closely, or just let yourself become lost in the forest of sound, then you really begin to appreciate the musical masterpiece that Broadrick has created here. It’s intelligent, non-pretentious and simply beautiful. If you are a fan of Nadja, The Angelic Process, or any shoegaze acts and projects, I urge to to find a copy and just buy it, I promise you won’t regret it.
Label: Hydra Head Records
Avantgenre: Shoegazy Industrial Drone/Doom
Official site: http://www.avalancheinc.co.uk/jesu.html
Review online since: 10.06.2009 / 09:59:05
01 – Your Path To Divinity
02 – Friends Are Evil
03 – Tired Of Me
04 – We All Faulter
05 – Walk On Water
06 – Sun Day
07 – Man/Woman
08 – Guardian Angel