With droning guitars and jagged lyrics and melodies, Jesu’s music is aggressive without being overbearing, metallic and heavy without being metal. The songs sigh and swell in movements, some changes occurring in a slip of a note and others growling to a halt or a breathtaking crescendo. It’s chaotic but, at its core, cathartic.
“Jesu is a sense of frustration and terror that is all around us. It’s hypersensitive and meant to encounter and deal with the pain of living,” says Jesu (pronounced “however you like it”) mastermind Justin Broadrick, who, himself, is a rather upbeat guy. “For me, it’s the soundtrack to all the ultimate sadness in this world, but it’s also meant to be used to escape the mean-ness of it all.”
That being said, going into Jesu’s sophomore effort “Conqueror” (released via Hydra Head, featuring band members Diarmuid Dalton and Ted Parsons) is clearly no proverbial picnic for its creator or for his fans. However, the set has resonated enough with listeners to earn Jesu its first chart ink, with “Conqueror” bowing at No. 25 on Top Heatseekers and No. 50 on Top Independent Albums during the week of March 10.
Its not just raw emotionality that draws ears to “Conqueror”; despite its obvious shoegaze, metal, rock and electronica influences, a number of pretty melody lines and harmonies poke through the album’s rough veneer.
“The album was definitely influenced by a host of things that I’ve listen to for most of my life, like My Bloody Valentine, Napalm Death [with whom he’s also collaborated] …but you can also hear some Teenage Fanclub or Red House Painters. I’m absolutely addicted to the first couple records from Big Star and Chris Bell’s ‘I Am the Cosmos,'” the ex-Godflesh principal says. “[‘Conqueror’] may have this foggy brutality, but still has that sense of harmony and resolution.”
The fog, as it were, stretches out over 75-plus minutes, though with only eight tracks. Each clocks in at more than five minutes, with the marathon monster “Weightless & Horizontal” longer than 10. Another band whose records hold similar stature — Explosions In The Sky — have also had some recent success on the Billboard charts with their most recent “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone.” So, it’s little surprise that Broadrick has been collaborating with that group lately on a handful of remixes. The 37-year-old’s other credits include remixes of Isis, Pantera, Pigface and Pelican.
Broadrick explains: “I don’t think I’d be of much use outside of music. It’s the only language I can really speak.”