Jesu - _Jesu_
(Hydrahead, 2005)
by: T. DePalma (8 out of 10)
The tragedy of Godflesh was that, even with a voluminous output of side projects for which were explored a range of alternative and more concentrated aspects of its own difficult to categorize sound, the music began to shrink from its complexity; vapidly emphasizing its most simple components; embodying its opposite and, as generally occurs, sounding more influenced by the bands that it had probably impressed earlier. So came the final 'Flesh album, _Hymns_ (2001), which digressed into nu-metal flirtations with a minor industrial vibe. A heavier rock album in comparison to some, but just a rock album -- neatly defined, easily absorbed, with only moderate appeal over time.

Jesu represents a sort of reclamation, bearing the same title as _Hymns_' (and subsequently Godflesh's) final track. At the same time, this is by no means a return to the industrial grind of_Streetcleaner_. It does showcase a depth that does justice to the personal expression of its creator, Justin Broadrick, is indelibly marked with his style and elevated to a comparative sphere with his earlier work. In fact, the songs that make up _Jesu_ suggest that _Hymns_ was not at all a regrettable approach to Broadrick, only an underdeveloped one.

A pallet of auriferous and copper colored textures covering the disc's booklet, mixed in with Broadrick's own photography, set the stage for these opaque songs of solitude. The first is "Your Path to Divinity", a slow-moving piece that establishes the familiar distortion of bass guitar like a pulley of rusty chains and has some strange accordion effect on the synths. It's not a highlight, but it's a decent enough start that eventually washes into "Friends Are Evil", which brings on some thick guitar rhythms undulating with the man-machine pounding of drums, leading into a somber verse of clean vocals harmonizing with the keys in a reflective dance. Ex-Prong drummer Ted Parsons (who was a live drummer for years with Godflesh and also played on _Hymns_) handles the kit once more, allowing the music to sound less mechanical, but not stripped of an ability to perform cold and precise beats as well as lively marches within the patient course of each track. Whereas _Hymns_ had an emptiness in the whole performance, _Jesu_ delivers a luscious, bitable mix of instruments that neither sound fully industrial nor like a standard band.

The pacing of this album is a complete turnaround from Jesu's _Heartache_ EP, which delivered course after course in just two tracks totaling over half an hour. Stretching between six to eleven minutes each, these songs are more saturnine, characterized by repetition but becoming darker with each successive track. It is wonderful. After the druggish "We All Falter", Jesu follows with the doomy "Walk on Water" and "Man / Woman", a foreboding song that begins by utilizing feedback to harmonize with chilling guitar notes before plunging into a foamy sea of distortion, and is the only song truly comparable to Godflesh, with Broadrick returning to his old vocal style.

With allegedly twenty songs already written in preparation for future releases, it seems Jesu will be on our lips for some time. As I write, listening to past work alongside this promising material, I welcome it, offering the band my highest praise in not knowing what to expect now...


(article published 17/5/2005)

2/14/2010 J Ulrey Jesu - Infinity / Opiate Sun
7/15/2006 T DePalma 5.5 Jesu - Silver
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