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caspian, October 3rd, 2007

Much to the dismay of old Godflesh fans and most metalheads, Jesu has gotten progressively poppier and mellower since the inception of the band. In some cases it's worked really well- some of the stuff of Conqueror was great, and most of the Eluvium split was top notch- but at the same time, it's hard not to miss the powerful, ethereal drones of the self titled album- and the high quality of the epic, not-like-conqueror EP Sun Down/Sun Rise just reminded us how good those big guitar riffs were.

So, how does this new album compare? Is it the good but disposable shoegaze of Conqueror, the massive riffs of Heartache or the blissed out guitars of Silver? Unfortunately, it's more along the line of Conqueror's sonics, but luckily, it seems that Justin's made some adjustments to the Conqueror sound, and the end result is an album that almost makes you not miss the old Jesu style.

Indeed, everything has been given a powerful weightiness that just seemed to be missing from the last LP. Justin doesn't use his higher register vocals at all, the synths aren't all bright and happy, and I guess the whole thing just resonates with me a lot more then the last few albums have. The execution of the songs is just really good- Storm Comin' On has some really excellent synths that recall four tet, with some wonderfully ethereal vocals from that krazy girl Jarboe supplied. The use of new vocals is a great touch- a bit of new texture is always a good thing, and Jarboe's contribution give the whole song a huge amount of extra tension and purpose.

In fact, the whole album seems to have a lot of purpose and tension. I'm not really sure how to describe it, but this definitely has a much more meaningful vibe then other recent Jesu efforts. Lifeline is a really depressing beast of a song that's slow, fragile and just quite weepy all round- Justin's vocals are truly desolate here, and the shimmering synths and slow burning clean guitars make the song slit-your-wrists depressing, while 'You Wear Their Masks' is floaty, slow burning shoegaze at it's hypnotic best. Really, these songs aren't too different from those found on Conqueror, but the slightly murky production and sheer depressingness of these songs makes them so much better and much more powerful.

While I wouldn't say this is my favourite Jesu record, (It ranks fourth out of seven that I've heard) I would say that it's pretty freaking solid, and while it's mix of the atmospherics of the first full length with the sound of the second full length will probably just annoy everyone, I still think this is a pretty damn sweet record- recommended for the casual Jesu fan, and a good one to start off with maybe.