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Washes Over Me. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, September 1st, 2006

Broadrick, Jesu’s creator, is a man of many talents. A lot of the influence behind this band is seemingly taken from his previous project, the legendary Godflesh. Even the name of the band is taken from a song by his illustrious industrial band. The significance of this influence is paramount to the sound of Jesu and my review since the band are merely an evolved state of Godflesh, in my eyes. When Broadrick released ‘Heart Ache’, a fantastically powerful EP in 2004, Jesu were his own creation. He was a one man band, controlling ever facet of experimentation. There have been complaints from fans and non-fans about Broadrick’s unconventional style, resulting in a war of words between two separate parties. Some suggest Broadrick is untalented, whilst the rest argue the case that he is a musical genius. A lot of the criticisms labelled at the early material seem rather unjust, in my view. The band were formed in 2004 and recorded the first EP in the same year. There wasn’t much time for Broadrick to make the adjustments from industrial metal to industrial based drone. The two are very contrasting genres, however much they like to incorporate themes of industrial. ‘Heart Ache’ was said to have a poor production and inept musicianship since there were problems with sound effects and instrumentation, particularly present in the piano passages on the second song of the EP. However, in my own opinion, I believe there is a certain charm to Broadrick’s unique style. His whimsical soundscapes are as heavy as a heavy thing and mesmerise to the point of hypnotism. There is a strength present in the constant thudding of the instrumentation that gives this record, the self-titled debut, a hearty backbone that allows the record to base the rest of its material on.

Drone was never a easy genre to become established in. The meaty guitars and gigantic soundscapes are sometimes too much for people to handle, but given the right state of mind, this record has the ability to enforce its emotional vulnerability on to the listener and make them feel the pain that this record is based around. Whilst I myself don’t consider Broadrick to be a genius, I do consider him to have reasonable cult status and for good reasons. His sound, particularly early on, was one that seemed unparalleled. He creates distinctive drone soundscapes using a minimalist approach. The emotional complexities of the self-titled piece make up for the lack of real creativity, though there is a certain visionary skill in being able to produce something as expressive as this. I don’t hereby claim that Jesu’s debut is the best thing known to man, but I do state that this honest portrayal of emotions is a worthwhile listen. In actual fact, I do love this record, but for personal reasons and can accept the fact that it will not appeal to everyone, therefore a lot of my judgment is being based on that. I think there is a unique dynamism in the approach, which is consistent, if not a little repetitive (though I am used to that myself, I understand this will grate on some people’s nerves). The record is built on slow impacting sections which drown out the thoughts of the listener in the shape of a rumbling earthquake like sound in the guitars. The guitars are perhaps the most pivotal section of the record since they create a fair amount of the atmosphere surrounding the songs. Epics like the emotionally raw ‘Tired of Me’ are good examples of this wall-of-noise cliché that Jesu build their songs around.

The guitars, reinforced by powerful percussion that includes impressionable hi-hat and cymbal sections that wash over the listener like forceful waves of melancholy, mixed with angst. There are many raw qualities to this record, which in turn makes it sound even more unique against its peers. The constant rumbling sound, for instance, was a first for me to hear in this manner. It plays an imperative role in creating the wall that was previously mentioned. The bass, which is audible, though not as important to Jesu as the guitars or the esoteric programming, is accredited for some of the ample soundscapes. Broadrick’s vocals are very strong. Although he’s not the greatest vocalist in the world, his melodic and honest voice bounces well off the gigantic distortion caused by the guitars and systematic percussion. His voice doesn’t reach as high as others’ might do, but he’s consistent and puts a lot of emotion into his performance, which is all you can ask for. His lush vocals tend to lull the listener into a hazy reality which boarders on the fictional. Listening to him can be equated to reading something like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. His voices takes you to surreal places and on vast journey’s across barren landscapes and through majestic forests, ‘Sun Day’ would be a good example of this. There are a number of clichés which can be used to describe the Jesu self-titled epic, like a rollercoaster of emotions. Much of the material seems to be based on creating a low feeling in the listener and ebbing it throughout their body with the vibrations of the constant distortion which plagues the listener throughout. Although no one likes to feel low, Jesu make it sound desirable, which is why I keep coming back to this record, years after having heard it for the first time. Even the lyrics show a significant pattern in Jesu’s material, showcasing the undertow of the record with a splice of negativity. ‘We All Faulter’ is a great example of this;

“And you're a disease,
but you're a disease that I’m underneath.
And you're just like,
and you're just like all the rest.
'Cause we all falter.”

Highlights; ‘Tired of Me’ and the enormous ‘Sun Day’.