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British Heritage: Part II. - 95%

Perplexed_Sjel, March 29th, 2008

British Heritage: Part II.

Jesu’s earliest material tends to represent what most people like to call their best era. Jesu work in stages, it seems. We had the awe inspiring drone stage, which fused a harsher blend of melody with a tinge of melancholy. We evolved into an even more ambient style than we began with, clean vocals became one of the main features of the band and evolution is sound was really beginning to take hold. From there came the injection of post-rock and shoegaze. The sound was vastly different to that we first heard on ‘Heart Ache’, but it was still as enjoyable. The new sound, it has to be said, has given Jesu’s fan base a much needed injection of life. A band like this deserves credit where credit is due.

‘Heart Ache’ is where it all began for Jesu, which will certainly be an odd fact for a lot of people to stomach. The differences between this and say the new ‘Lifeline’ material is almost unbelievable. As I said, the vocals weren’t as pivotal to Jesu as they have become. Justin’s vocals are unique. His voice is one that could be carried over no matter what music it was placed side by side with. His vocals could do the job on any form of music, whether that be this type of hypnotic drone, or the lesser familiar shoegaze sound. In ways, ‘Heart Ache’ can be typical of the drone sound. How? Well, it focuses it’s attentions solely on achieving atmosphere. This is done through down tuned guitars, which play at a slow pace. Rarely does the tempo alter in terms of the guitar work. It’s only the drums and keyboards which tend to speed the tempo up. They add a spice to the fray. Each section of instruments works incredibly well together, this must simply be put down to fantastic musicianship and song writing ability. Whether Jesu are portraying their emotive sound through zoned out keyboards, or blissful guitars, it’s always done perfectly.

The keyboards were as essential back then, when ‘Heart Ache’ was released, as they are now. They create a flowing sound which ebbs away in the minds of the audience. It swings back and forth. Creating a fusion of melody with the guitars perfectly. The way in which the instruments come together is undoubtedly the most pleasing aspect to most. However, to me, the vocals are still where all the emotion comes from. Justin’s vocals display a vast array of emotions. From despair, to sadness. From grief, to even a rather hopeful tone. His voice carries over very well. He has the ability to alter the mood of the listener with his voice in whichever way he chooses fit. The instruments have this ability too, however it’s not as clear as the vocals are when they do it. The keyboards are quintessential in gathering all the atmospheric qualities together and showcasing them as one divine sound. Whilst the title track really does melt my troubles away, one cannot resist the piano intro. It’s inclusion into the mix is perfect. Jesu remain a visionary band. One which creates a pioneering sound that brings both joy and sorrow to many, many people. Britain’s Jesu are perhaps one of the most important figures in the British scene, if not the world scene of ambient and metal music.

Epic! - 95%

caspian, July 26th, 2006

Jesu will never be mistaken for an ordinary band. The Self Titled LP and the Silver EP have been fairly strange mixtures of techno, industrial metal and shoegaze, with the Silver EP basically a metal Bloody Valentine. (that's a very, very good thing though.) Still I was apprehensive about this first album. Would it be as ambitious and awesome as the other ones? Luckily the answer is yes.

If you're familiar with the later cds, you'll be in fairly comfortable territory with this one. Still, there's some subtle differences that most Jesu fans will pick up on early. There's a lot less studio trickery, for one. The clean guitars are actually recognisable as guitars, and the distorted guitars, while still crushing, aren't the super mutant computerised distortion thats on the following albums. Also, there's far less layers. For those who aren't familiar with Jesu, though, this record will seem extremely left field.

The album starts off with probably the heaviest few minutes ever played by Jesu. There's definetly a bit of a Khanate style vibe in the crushing guitars, but then a choir comes in, and after a few minutes of that, you're into a whole other world entirely. The rest of the song shows you why this band got a ton of cross over indie appeal. Justin Broadrick's brilliant world weary vocals float around the mix, sounding really quite amazing. The keyboards and guitars are mixed perfectly, and it's hard to tell which is which. The song builds up to a great head rush of a climax, with pulsing, blissful guitars, and some amazing vocals, just repeating over and over again while everything else slowly fades out. It is a very long song, (19:42), but It didn't get boring for me at all. It's great, simply put.

Ruined is also fairly awesome, though it is a fairly atypical song as far as Jesu is concerned. We start off with a nice, if not amazing piano intro. We're then treated to some fairly traditional industrial riffing, with some rather odd vocals going other the top. Heavier riffing is just around the corner, and there's some shouting from Broadrick. Im not sure what yelling "Rise Rock" represents, but it sounds cool. After that, we move onto some cool mellow sections. They don't flow too well together, but on their own they are great pieces of music. Still, it's another great slab of music.

All in all, this is really freaking cool. I wouldn't say it's accessible, but I don't see why most metal fans won't dig it. Heavy and beautiful in equal parts. Highly recommended!

Heart felt EP - 85%

Manchester_Devil, February 28th, 2005

Justin Broadrick returns to the world of Industrial with his post-Godflesh band, Jesu, named after the song on the Godflesh album “Hymns”, since this EP has Broadrick experimenting with various soundscapes, using a guitar, bass, drum machine, numerous sounds and even a piano of sorts. It would be of note to mention that this experimental EP has two songs that average twenty minutes so this isn’t an album you can just tune in and out again in the space of five minutes, unless you have no patience of course (note the word ‘experimental’).

The EP goes through a lot of changes, the title song “Heart Ache” starts with a droning guitar over a rumbling bass before giving way to a sampled choir that is repeated for several minutes over faint distortion before a simple guitar melody plays over a sound that sporadically appears. Broadick’s vocals are clean and layered on themselves. Giving the song a sort of dreamy feel, almost ambient in nature, certainly unlike Godflesh. Some parts will drag on if you’re not in the mood but this is a damn good song to listen when you’re deep in thought.

“Ruined” starts with a simple piano melody that suddenly goes onto the deep end of the scale before feedback starts building up before the guitar starts going, this is the heavier of the two songs and Broadrick goes from droning to shouting in that order. Though shouting “RISE ROCK” once, let alone several times does spoil it a bit. There are some great moments in this song, such as the last 4-5 minutes, which is an ambient oriental soundscape, that is like being in a Buddhist temple in a remote land before the sampled choirs comes to eventually take over, ending the EP on a high note. Before this is the bass carrying the melody of the guitar up to that moment.

There are some other sounds that are being used that aren’t essential to the songs but enhance it. But this is a recording that showcases Justin Broadrick’s ability to produce Jesu’s sound, stepping from the shadow of Godflesh’s crumbling cityscape and into a rich ambient land.