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Some amazing moments, but inconsistent.. - 80%

caspian, January 16th, 2007

When Broadrick announced that this album was going to be more poppy then his previous efforts, I was both pleased and disappointed. I loved the poppiness of the Silver EP, wherever it was the dreamy shoegaze of the title track (which was probably my favourite song of 2006) or the blissed out shimmer of Dead Eyes - But I also loved loved the drone that was in much of the Self Titled album. As far as I know, this is the first album Broadrick has ever tried to be really melodic, which I guess I why this album has a few lower points. Fortunately, there are some great moments here too.

There's a few things you notice straight away with this album. The first thing I noticed is that is sounds much more organic then previous releases. The drums sounds a lot rawer and a lot more live sounding, the guitars aren't as processed as they where in previous albums, and the vocals sound more natural. Another thing you'll notice is the big increase of electronics. There's always been plenty, but here, it's common for them to drive the songs, with the guitars taking a back seat. The synths are sounding better and better too- check out the opening of Mother Earth, which is full of chiming guitars and some really blissful synths, or Stanlow, the last and best track on the album, which has the electronics playing some catchy and melodic stuff over the usual downtuned guitars. Finally, the vocals- In keeping with the whole pop feeling, they're mixed nice and high, with less effects on them, which is both a good and a bad thing. Broadrick's voice has improved with every release, but the effects always added a real unique edge to his voice, which isn't there anymore. Also, some of his lyrics aren't too great, which wouldn't have mattered much previously, but not that they're audible it's a bit harder to take.

All these changes don't matter that much if all the songs are great. Well, most of them are, but there's a few disappointments here, that's for sure. Oddly enough, this album appears to be quite back loaded, with most of the best tracks later on. The first two tracks are probably the worst two songs on this album, and indeed the worst songs Jesu has ever made. Conqueror is really unfocused, and despite some sweet vocals, there's lots of crap "Ah-ahh, Ah-ahh, Ah-ahh, Ah-ahh..." kind of vocals that sound pretty ill-fitting. That's followed up by the even worse Old Year, which suffers many similar problems, mainly, a lack of focus and progression, and a really annoying drum beat ripped off Silver.

I can definitely imagine some people getting all bummed out when they start listening to this album. Never fear though, there's better songs around the corner. There's the rocking shoegaze of Transfigure, with some excellent MBV-style guitar and subtle, expressive synths. Brighteyes is quite similar to his older work, being really slow and depressive, while Mother Earth is by far the most happy and blissed out track you've ever heard, full of steady, pounding drums, cheery guitars and soaring synths, all of it ending in a long, jam kind of thing that is pretty damn sweet. In my opinion though, nothing quite compares to Stanlow, the final track, which is were JK Broadrick finally realises his vision of writing a pop album. This song is also the one furthest away from the Jesu of old- it's full of pristine synths and electronics, with the guitars pushed into the background. The vocals are gorgeous and work great with everything else. When the beautiful clean guitar comes in around the end, you know you can't get anything better then this. Possibly the song of 2007??

I'm not too sure about Jesu's new direction- I did love the first album's repetition and super loud guitars, but this style is also quite nice. Fans of shoegaze and post-rock will love this, as will most Jesu fans, but metal purists will definitely want to try before they buy (which at this point is still impossible. Leaks ftw!). Anyway, a great shoegaze-metal album with some low points, and some real high points. Recommended.