Review Summary: No timeless masterpieces on this disc, just humble, expressive art.
Justin Broadrick, a jack of many trades, has graced the world with unconventional yet oftentimes pretty music for almost 30 years now. Despite a three-piece line-up originally planned for “Opiate Sun”, Broadrick giddied up his own horse and released it solo. This is the tenth release from Broadrick’s arguably most connecting project: Jesu. Unlike Godflesh which focuses more on raw atmosphere and mechanical metal layers, Jesu captures the essence of poignant emotions. Each song is so delicately built to accustom the listener’s lethargic profoundness. In other words, an Ep like “Opiate Sun” provides an apt environment for time to slow down and ponder various feelings. Only certain artists can convey truly emotional music. Jesu is one of the wry examples of this. While pulling at the heart-strings quite gently with sluggish melodies, there is also a feeling of irregular aggressiveness. A distant, lonely aroma arises just as hopeful chord progressions are chugged over and over. Somehow though, Jesu has a knack for keeping the spirit of their songs alive – not boring the listener to death (depending on the patience/focus level of the listener).
Fade in. Every song on this Ep starts with a swell of distortion. In come the trance-inducing drums. A perfect pace for relaxing and (as before stated) reflecting. The musical style sort of hangs over a cliff – out of reach for higher-ups (elitists, preferring everything either top-notch, way out of the ordinary, or strictly to the rules of the self-proclaimed genre) but a little too hard to grasp for the vast majority. The sound is not instantly attention grabbing nor is it necessarily gratifying for that quick fix that most desire. The vocals could very likely be heard in any given Mark Hoppus project so therein may lay the appeal for pop-punk-rockers. On the other hand, the song structures rely on dragging heavy riffing, resembling doom metal. In fact, it would be fitting to identify Jesu as ‘Doom metal ballads’. So alienating themselves from fans is not all unintentional and certainly isn’t a main concern for Jesu. The select few that deliberately choose to slow down their day and seek a peaceful/uprooting atmosphere in “Opiate Sun” for example, will not walk away emotionally unrewarded. No timeless masterpieces on this disc, just humble, expressive art.
There remains a glistening blend production wise in this Ep. Underlying ‘chugging’ structures support more sublime layers of crunchy guitar tones. Bottom heavy is definitely a key ingredient of Broadrick’s, but a sensitive nod to the “light side” is never done away with. Vocal harmonies are moderately discernable. Lyrics might be a hassle to understand by listening alone, but certain nostalgic phrases can be heard like “And we’ll never see your face again”. Although rather succinct in content, Broadrick’s lyrics really hit home with emotional depravation and exploration. The drums keep a slow but steady beat throughout and not much more. The snare sticks out though, with a high (and somewhat overbearing) pitch. A real drum-kit shows a more natural stripped down context, as opposed to Jesu’s usual drum machine style. Art is all encompassing any Jesu release: from the unique slight change-up in sound, to the personal photography of Broadrick seen on the album covers, to the simplistic, yet moving lyrical wit. “Opiate Sun” features two falling leaves on the cover which possibly were intended to spell the letter J. Everything put out by this slow-rolling band is thought-provoking and makes one look inside of oneself…the way that Broadrick brings out the sensitivity within himself audibly and visually by capturing his own view of nature’s beauty (with photographic album art).