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Another excellent release. - 88%

msupplier, December 29th, 2009

As all of us fans reading this know, electronics are definitely a part of Jesu's world, right? If not, you most likely have never quite understood this band. News flash, Justin is a master at combining electronics/atmospheres with heavier than all hell riffage. This will be somewhat difficult to get across to that listener that is afraid or unsure of how to incorporate anything 'synthetic' into their sacred 'metal' world...

The opening song "Don't Dream It" is completely destroyed by the ridiculous sample taken from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". If you had the pleasure of collecting the Japanese bonus(instrumental) version of this track, you most likely enjoyed it because that horrendous sample is non-existent & the song is now listenable & actually good. Track 2, "Can I Go Now?" is next in line & exhibits pure brilliance. This is where the album actually begins in my opinion... Lush atmospheres, deep & monstrous, with the "Reese" patch bloated & at full attention... Very deep & emotional.

"Wash it All Away" & "Dummy" are instrumentals that are exceptional tracks and rank at or near the top of my list of Jesu classics. Both of these masterpieces will give you chills, yes they are that powerful. "Supple Hope" is the last of the 4 songs on this album that I consider "great". This is yet another testament of how talented this guy is.

So, what you get here on this release is 4 superb tracks, 3 average ones & the aforementioned opening track that is sub-par at best. That ratio may not seem to add up to a stellar album, but the good songs are so fucking emotional & haunting that they are in a league of their own & bring the percentage way up.

As stated earlier, the Japanese bonus(instrumental) version of
"Don't Dream It" is way better than the original and should have been the opener. There is also a Japanese bonus version of the almighty "Supple Hope" which is a really good track as well. A great release by a great band.

Really quite disappointing. - 50%

caspian, January 24th, 2008

Jesu, over time, have went through the typical, predictable but painful changes that happens in many a band. A run of excellent releases early in their career, followed by a long, steady slide into mediocrity. Jesu haven't quite done this, I guess, with their Sun Rise/Sun Down EP being excellent, but otherwise 2007 didn't hold a lot of good Jesu releases, and the future for this excellent (once excellent?) band looks kind of grim, or at least not quite as satisfying and inspiring as it did around the Silver EP.

Ok, so perhaps I'm reading too much into this album- it's a B-Sides release after all. Still it's easily the worst Jesu album yet, and not a good sign of where the band is heading. One thing that's worth mentioning is that 'Don't Dream It' is one of the worst songs ever written, with the ear raping, moaning vocals, the piano lines that recall various abominable English Children Shows, and a general huge amount of oestrogen and general faggyness. It's big time fail, which is a shame. I have honestly no idea what Broadrick was thinking when he released this song.

Anyway, moving onwards. Most of the songs are closer to Conqueror's sonics, and the stuff on the Eluvium split- lots of faux-electronica beats, happy synths and fairly simple melodies, with a few loud-ish guitars thrown here and there to sate the metal populace. In some of the songs it works quite well- 'Can I Go Now?' is a rather enjoyable song with some pretty nice Boards of Canada style synths and some rather sweet glitchy drum programming, with Broadrick delivering some catchy vocals. Quite a few of the other songs deliver fairly well, with 'The Playgrounds are Empty' being full of some strange, deep melancholy with some fairly crunchy riffing, whereas 'Dummy' also gets it's despair on quite well with some rather epic downtuned shoegaze action.

Unfotunately, most of the songs really have little going for them. Sure, they don't actively offend me (except for Don't Dream It), but they're just there- unmemorable, unfocused slow mo breakbeats, child like synth melodies twinkling around and the occaisonal bit of guitar here and there. It's not THAT bad a sound- if it was from a new band I probably would like it- but compared from what we've grown to expect from this great band, it's really disappointing.

I guess that sums it up, really. Unmemorable, unfocused and with some really, really bad moments here and there. Hard to believe that this is the same group that wrote Silver, or even Sun Down/Sun Rise. 'Uninspired' is another word that comes to mind. For Jesu completists only.

Change Is Forecast. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 21st, 2007

'Pale Sketches' is another of Jesu's many unique records. This best of compilation contains unreleased songs dating as far back as the year 2000. Considering that fact, it makes perfect sense that this compilation is different with every song. Only a band like Jesu could change their style so many times within the period of time they have been a band. Broadrick and co. have an amazing ability to adapt to experimentation to fulfill their needs. They've never failed to disappoint their fans and 'Pale Sketches' is just another example, in a long list of examples, that just indicates what a phenomenal band Jesu are. Jesu can skip from genre to genre at ease. Playing a style of music that fits the bill for a whole range of audiences. 'Pale Sketches' is a perfect example of how effortlessly Jesu can switch from one song to another, going through a long line of genres, yet still manage to keep everyone happy. From fans of their drone inspired dirges, to fans of their more recent styling of shoegaze and post-rock. All the while, Jesu manage to incorporate industrial music into their style. Whether you're a fan of metal or not, Jesu contain aspects of so many genres that they are bound to appeal to a wide ranging audience.

'Pale Sketches' is an insight into the experimentation aspect of the British act. Its a compilation that essentially showcases the endeavors of the band to achieve a divine right to own whatever genre they decide they want to perform in. What struck me most about 'Pale Sketches' is the more focused nature of Jesu on the industrial side to their game. This is an aspect of Jesu achieved most notably by the programming that Justin inflicts on Jesu's music and on the audience. The programming that has gone into 'Pale Sketches' is top notch. An ambient selection of tracks has been chosen extremely carefully. From one song to the next, each track contains an ambiance specific to itself and unlike any Jesu song we've heard before. Whereas on Jesu's self-titled debut, there isn't a set theme running throughout 'Pale Sketches'. It's completely unique, though the self-titled does have its own unique vibe coursing through its veins. Certain songs, perhaps 'The Playgrounds Are Empty' for example, reflect back on a style Jesu explored previously on 'Conqueror'. However, there are numerous differences between this material and the material that was on the second full-length. The vocals have matured. Justin's voice isn't limited to one particular style as we have seen in the past. Nowadays, Justin tends to stick to clean vocals. This is a theme that becomes familiar with the audience throughout 'Pale Sketches'. However, vocals aren't used all the way through. Sometimes they're completely omitted from songs, which keeps 'Pale Sketches' looking and sounding fresh.

Whenever the vocals don't come into play, the audience are subjected to ambient aspects of Jesu's game. These largely atmospheric pieces offer a new and previously unseen emotive side to Jesu, though they can sometimes become quite stale. Whilst I do enjoy the instrumental and industrial parts, I do prefer Jesu's music when vocals are present as if offers a lyrical context to the material. When vocals aren’t present, I sometimes find myself questioning the motives of the music, which leads to many unanswered questions about the origins of the songs. The vocals communicate with the audience more effectively than the instrumental pieces. Whilst this is the case, the industrial sections aren't disappointing, they're just different from what I had expected. What makes Jesu so unique is their ability to infuse industrial parts, which typically played guitar riffs. Low tuned guitars which portray an astral feel to the work are layered lushly over the programming elements that Justin brings to Jesu and that have existed within the band since the very beginning. The percussion isn't as noteworthy as certain other parts, but it is a side to Jesu that sets a different tone to their music. For the most part, the percussion acts as the driving force of aggression behind the music. Whilst this isn't an in-your-face type of aggression, it is noticeable. The wide ranging use of emotive soundscapes is particularly pleasing to the audience.

Songs like 'Dummy' give us something new to analyse and furthermore, relax to. That's one of the most striking elements as well, the fact that Jesu have taken away that powerful edge they had on the self-titled full-length. This doesn’t often become a negative factor until the stale elements return in the form of long ambient passages that merely drift lifelessly, instead of getting to the point. Although I hate to say it, some of the content seems largely uninspired. Although there is a new edge to Jesu, its not as forceful as it once was. The wall of noise approach from the self-titled piece has been demoted and dreamscapes have become apart of the furniture. This isn't disappointing for the most part, its just different. All in all 'Pale Sketches' offers something new to the fray. Something rather unexpected. Definitely worth a listen. Highlights would have to be 'Can I Go Now' & 'The Playgrounds Are Empty'