Jesu - Conqueror
Metal scares some people. For whatever reason, whether it's the spawn of Satan or it's just too heavy or that there's no "tunes" I think, as a genre, it gets a raw deal. Justin Broadrick has been challenging people’s perception of "metal" with every project he undertakes. His Jesu project seems to mix and blur the lines between shoe-gazing, drone and metal to create some weird and wonderful "post-metal" sound. Conqueror is the first long-player under the Jesu banner, last years sublime Silver being classified as an EP. This album is by far his most accessible work to date.
It begins with the epic title track, an 8-minute mix of swirling electronica and heavy riffs that aren't heavy. They're drenched in fuzz and would be classified as power chords if they were loud, and they feel loud, but they're not. It's a perfect lesson in how to produce and mix sound, everything feels and sounds perfectly placed. The quiet vocals seem to float over the music, never stressed or strained, just perfectly placed. The rest of the album follows in a similar pattern, the music all feels very dreamy and hallucinogenic. The guitars are never over the top, but are always the most prominent instrument used. If it wasn't for the guitars this could be described as anything but metal, maybe even ambient. The 10 minute centre-piece Weightless & Horizontal reminds me of Spiritualized if Jason Pierce has listened to more rock records, delicate and intricate sweeps of music and instruments build through a subtle arc of music through your speakers.
What does become an issue is that sometimes the tracks can all merge into one. It takes some concentration to be able to decipher the difference between the eight tracks here, they all follow the same spaced out and drone-drenched guitar pattern. If the mix was changed, just slightly, now and again it would augment the sound, the images and themes that Broadrick is trying to convey. The lyrics are a bit out there too and don't really convey much other than add to the dream-like nature of the whole experience.
The Jesu project is an ambitious and impressive one. Taking what you know of musical genres and blurring them and challenging your perception of them. It's a surprisingly easy and fresh listen and proof that challenging music needn't be inaccessible. Don't be put off by the metal tag, this is something much more than that.
Last updated: 23/04/2018 10:45:27