Jesu
Conqueror


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
February 19th, 2007 | 68 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jesu's second album is a welcome addition to legend of Justin Broadrick and further proves his immense talent. Crushing, beautiful and layered, [i]Conqueror[/i] is an extremely worthwhile album for anyone with interest.

For a few years now, bands like Isis, Kayo Dot, Sunn O))) and (perhaps to a lesser extent) Between the Buried and Me have been working furiously to change their audience's perception of what a metal band can be. While their individual styles vary drastically, all produce forward-thinking music that is undeniably rooted in metal. Since their self-titled release, Jesu's Justin Broadrick has also been working in his own way to achieve the same goal. Jesu are ploddingly slow and heavy and, by most accounts, a far more personal project for Broadrick than anything he has done in the past. Conqueror is the second Jesu album and most probably the lightest, poppiest thing that the former Napalm Death/Godflesh member has ever created.

At first, Conqueror may not seem too different to the self-titled album or the Silver EP. Broadrick, however, has opted to make subtle changes to Jesu's sound rather than drastic ones, meaning that there is a lot more to Conqueror than first meets the ear. To begin with, the album's production is sounds far more natural than the s/t and far less processed. This is due to the more natural production on the drums and to a lesser extent, the guitars. Broadrick's vocals are far more prominent in the mix, to the extent that each word of every song is completely discernable. That's not to say that the vocals are more immediate, they still float above the instruments in an airy manner, retaining the dream-like quality of past Jesu releases. Musically, Conqueror is perhaps the most dense Jesu release, with layers of reverb and delay on almost every instrument in every song. By that same token, Conqueror is extremely melodic, placing subtle layers of melody between loud guitars and drums and sheets of noise. There also appears to be a greater presence of synthesisers on Conqueror. Often contributing to the melodies and sometimes simply creating 'atmosphere', the simple synth sounds of Conqueror contribute to the feel of the songs and give them a space-like vibe, not unlike a lot of the more popular shoegaze acts of the 90s.

Although most of the songs here are extremely melodic, the slow tempos do an effective job of masking the melody, letting it give way to the album's more immediate purposes; atmosphere and emotional outlet. Broadrick does a beautiful job of making his emotions known on each of the album's 8 cuts and provides a thick atmosphere, inviting the listener to join in on his experience. The tracks are so slow that melodies can be lost on the listener who becomes hypnotised by the atmosphere created by the album's powerful drumming, 'wall-of-sound' guitars and space-like synthesisers. The end result is that the album feels like the sonic equivalent of floating in space or water. Perhaps the best example is the album's centrepiece and longest song, "Weightless & Horizontal", which is extremely drawn out, but stays interesting for all of its 10-minute playing time. The track begins with Broadrick's melancholy tenor repeating the words "try not to lose yourself" over some doomy chords. This shifts and unfolds for about 5 minutes until the song's midpoint, which drops back to just some synthesisers. Soon enough, the rest of the instruments make their way back in, but playing an entirely new (and gorgeously uplifting) chord progression that lies beneath the original lyrics and melody that Broadrick sang at the song's commencement. The song builds until its climax, a riff played by both the guitar and synthesiser with little accompaniment from the drums or vocals. The song's 10 minutes completely draining, but once the song reaches its conclusion, wonderfully fulfilling.

One of Conqueror's very few flaws is perhaps its lack of variety. Variety is obviously not what Broadrick is going for with Jesu, and that's fine, but while the songs are varied enough in terms of melody and chord structures, they are all essentially heavy, melodic, slow and dense. While this creates an amazing atmosphere and is approached in such a way that Jesu's sound is completely unique to them, it can wear thin on a listener who is more interested in the album's 'actual songs'. For this reason, it might have been nice if Broadrick and co had included something less dense (perhaps an instrumental of some sort) towards the middle of the album. On the other hand, to do so may well have detracted from the atmosphere that the album creates and for those who find themselves drawn in by the sounds created here (no doubt Broadrick's intended audience) may have found the inclusion of such a piece a detraction.

All of this to say that Jesu are a unique entity that don't belong to any particular 'scene', though they will appeal to the members of many. Conqueror is brutal, lush, atmospheric, dense, melodic and hopelessly beautiful. Aptly titled, Conqueror is quite likely one of the most uplifting and personal metal albums of the decade. It might not be appropriate to say that Conqueror is better than the band's self-titled record as there isn't a whole lot of difference between, but it is at least on the same level and the difference between the two is enough to make Conqueror a worthwhile purchase for anyone who owns Jesu's other releases. For the uninitiated, Conqueror is marginally the most accessible Jesu release yet and well worth picking up for anyone interested.



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user ratings (298)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2007


2689 Comments


Great review, dude - good to see you were able to get this in before someone else beat you to it :p

Tyler
Emeritus
February 19th 2007


7926 Comments


I found this to be so disappointing and meh. I dont think it compares at all to the s/t or to Silver.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2007


16089 Comments


I listened to their s/t and it was excellent, I'm downloading this as we speak.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
February 19th 2007


4927 Comments


I need to get some Jesu and Eluvium to add to my Post Rock collection.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
February 19th 2007


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I found this to be so disappointing and meh. I dont think it compares at all to the s/t or to Silver.


I don't see what's not to like. There's really very little difference.

dyeva
February 19th 2007


59 Comments


Solid album.

Tyler
Emeritus
February 19th 2007


7926 Comments


I dont know br3ad, I haven't listened to it as much as those albums because honestly it didn't hit me as hard as they did. I'll give it another shot, but I dont know.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
February 20th 2007


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I dunno man, I pretty much liked it instantly.

AlienEater
February 20th 2007


716 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really want this album, I've been listening to them a lot recently

Blindguardian
February 20th 2007


186 Comments


Nice review, I'm thinking about getting this since I really liked silver

Neoteric
February 20th 2007


3243 Comments


Well br3ad, this is probably the longest review I've seen from you.

ArC
February 20th 2007


27 Comments


I'm really diggin Weightless & Horizontal

Two-Headed Boy
February 20th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm getting Silver soon, and if I like it I'll get this. There isn't a doubt that I'll like it though, so I shall possess this eventually. Sweel work with the review.
I'm also getting that Pelican album and some Neurosis. Go me.This Message Edited On 02.20.07

Stalusk
February 21st 2007


90 Comments


Good review man. The cover art is just so Broadrick-esque! Very much looking forward to hearing it.

Wizard
February 21st 2007


19608 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review. Your writing style matches this style of music. I will definitely be checking this out!

Digging: Full Of Hell & Merzbow - Full Of Hell & Merzbow

Zebra
Moderator
February 21st 2007


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I think I dislike Jesu because they're music has absolutely no variety. The atmosphere you talked about in the review just doesn't grab me, nothing stands out and I find that Conquerer is very hard to listen to from beginning to end.
Solid review, this is probably your longest yet.

Two-Headed Boy
February 24th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For some reason this reminds me of Nine Inch Nails :-/.

This is very good.

Kage
June 21st 2007


1172 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The more you listen to this, the more it reveals how really fucking good it is.

I can't decide if this is dark or hopeful but I love every second of it.

MeowMeow
June 21st 2007


662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've been meaning to check out Jesu, since I was such a huge Godflesh fan.

DekWannaBFlea
August 8th 2007


284 Comments


I found Jesu to pretty meh at the Isis concert and I this cd confirmed that feeling.



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