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Conqueror Meets Silver. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 16th, 2009

If Jesu were hard to pin down before 2009, they’re even harder to pin down now. This has been a slow year for Jesu. It didn’t truly kick-off until ‘Infinity’ hit the stores in the summer and reports were confusing as some were suggesting that ‘Infinity’ was not the latest full-length from Jesu, but Broadrick himself seems to suggest that it most certainly is. That said, ‘Infinity’ saw an albeit brief return to proceedings for Jesu as it crushed audiences with its mammoth doom/drone guitar riffs. Many, including myself, had expected the British band to churn out another shoegaze inspired record along the same lines as ‘Conqueror’, which took a drastic turn away from the droning roots of the self-titled record. However, suspicions were left unfounded as Jesu tore up the record books and opted for a style which seemed to hybrid old and new. ‘Infinity’ took the industrial shoegazing methods of songs like ‘Hard To Reach’ from the split with Envy and moulded that sound with the successful droning methods pioneered on ‘Heart Ache’, one of the best Jesu pieces of material to date. I don’t regard this little EP, which spans just over twenty minutes, to be the be-all and end-all of the Jesu career, but it is a good indication of what the band is capable of when they hit form.

‘Opiate Sun’ however, once again, tears up the record books and throws down a new twist on recent proceedings by going back to the ‘Silver’ EP, which the majority consider amongst the best works by Jesu, though I don’t tend to feel the same way. ‘Silver’ was when the shoegazing influences started to take hold and experimentation was beginning to run riot within the song structures. Broadrick is now known for experimenting as much as humanly possible and ‘Opiate Sun’ is just another indication of this as he moves in and out of new and old styles. The title track, for example, seems to suggest that Broadrick and co. are moving towards the old ‘Silver’ style, but the brilliant ‘Deflated’ turns in the direction of ‘Conqueror’, a much coveted sophomore record which many seem to think wasn’t as impressive as the droning debut. This song takes the clean vocal style of Broadrick, which I very much like, and the subtle droning guitars of the aforementioned full-length, but which are watered down from the earliest works which really tried to crush the listener under a haze of distortion and transfixed melody. The direction of the EP is a tad confusing. I’m not sure whether it is an indication of what is to come because we have been proved drastically wrong in the past, or whether this is just another piece of side experimentation away from the actual business area of full-lengths.

The material itself, present within the EP, is also a little confusing. It moves from one era of Jesu to the next without warning. From the ‘Silver’ inspired melodies of one song, to the lush shoegazing drones of ‘Conqueror’ in another song. The material is strong, regardless of what direction the songs seem to be going in. Whether Broadrick and co. are implementing the mellifluous waves, or the droning guitars, songs like the perfected ‘Morning Light’ are bright stars indicating that Jesu still have a strong future, despite the niggling doubts issued with the arrival of ‘Infinity’, which felt largely unfinished. This EP begins brightly and ends strongly due to much improved song writing, which allows Broadrick, in particular, to work his magic, particularly in his clean vocal portrayal. Although there are those who don’t like his clean vocals, I have always been a fan of them. Metal, to me, has never been about immense talents, but playing well within your means, which is exactly what Broadrick does, in regards to his vocals. His melodic voice sits well with the shoegazing style and even with the droning capabilities of the guitars which also suit the style. This EP may be short and may not count for much in terms of indicating what might come on the next full-length, but it is an ample offering.