Dusted Reviews

Jesu - Conqueror

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Jesu

Album: Conqueror

Label: Hydra Head

Review date: Feb. 27, 2007

On a sunny early afternoon in the plains of the American midwest, one can experience a peculiar kind of overwhelming. In the right conditions, there's positively nothing to obstruct the horizon for miles and miles in all directions, creating the "big sky" effect. It's a kind of vulnerability that is at first alarming, until one eventually resigns to the comforting notion that all is well and natural, if unfamiliar.

It's that curious feeling that Jesu evokes with the title track from Conqueror. With echo-effected synthesizers and low-bitrate rhythmic swatches blipping like beacons in the distance to guide his way, Justin K. Broadrick continues to cruise steadily away from the cooling ruin left by Godflesh. Though the metallic bones of the mighty 'flesh are still intact somewhat in the form of downtuned riffs that bludgeon their way up a major scale, and the occasional bottom-dredge bass, Broadrick dresses them with shimmering viscera of counterpoint instrumental breaks and dreary-eyed melody. The electronic processes employed to great effect on 2005's Silver EP are absent, with more of an emphasis on structural simplicity and a live-band feel. Take "Old Year," for instance, with its measured, mechanical drumming and a stiff-armed, nearly rock-radio guitar riff that recalls late-period "live-drummer” Godflesh, albeit much more minimal. "Transfigure" continues the trend with lightly distorted, melodic chording and bouncier, ’90s pop/shoegaze rhythms that recall My Bloody Valentine (an admitted influence).

Stasis, apparently, is still a mainstay of Broadrick's compositional palette. The twangy, snarling riff of "Medicine" plows on for a chorusless three minutes while Broadrick lays on a pretty vocal melody (that bizarrely, sounds a bit like "Raspberry Beret"), before giving way to a brief psych-raga motif and an extended coda lushly orchestrated with piano, crashing drums and clean-toned guitar. MBV gets another nod on the warbly synth-wash that leads off "Mother Earth," and the wide-open spaces continue their sprawl with the near-choral refrain of "Stanlow" - a logical extension of Broadrick's trademark quasi-chant - punctuated again by the pinging synthesizers and a subtle touch of vibraphone.

At just under an hour, Conqueror is a brisk addition to the Jesu canon, heretofore marked by dynamic bombast and nine-plus minute compositions. And while perhaps it's not as groundbreaking as prior efforts, Broadrick's interpretation of the ’90s pop that evidently left an impression on him rings honest and forthright. At very least, let it serve as Exhibit A that Broadrick has staggered away from the bruitistic fray of his past, a little world-weary, but gazing longingly at his own horizon's gentle, panoramic smile.

By Adam MacGregor

Other Reviews of Jesu



Heart Ache & Dethroned


Read More

View all articles by Adam MacGregor

Find out more about Hydra Head

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.