Review Summary: It's Christmas: the time when we all joyfully celebrate the birth of Jesu's... new Christmas EP.
It's that time of year again. The church band is playing U2-esque renditions of Chistmas hymns, August Burns Red just released another Christmas cover, and a 15-song playlist of my parents' creation has been going on repeat for what seems like months by now. Music in the Christmas season is almost always predictable and unchanging. That is, until everyone's favorite experimental metal titan Justin Broadrick decides to come and screw it all up by releasing a Christmas EP that is neither a breakdown-infested cover nor a cheesy singalong CCM track.
The EP consists of three songs: the centerpeice title track and two remixes of said song. The title track is one of Jesu's most straightforward tracks in recent memory. This is not a 50-minute track of an undefineable genre, nor does it feature waves of ambiance and electronics. It's just droptuned sludge riffs merged with Broadrick's pasisonate (yet quiet) cleans, and is a "short" track, at "only" about 9 minutes. It retains a slow pace througout its runtime, all of which is filled to the brim with deliciously distorted riffage and, at times, layers of cleaner, higher guitars over the leads. The lyrics bring a bit of lightheartedness, whether intentionally or not, to an otherwise emotionally poignant track, with the listener easily being able to pick out mentions of sleigh bells and Christmas every now and then over a thick, meaty riff. It's not what one would expect, but it really wouldn't be a Christmas song without Christmas-related lyrics, right?
The other two tracks of the EP are remixes of the centerpeice, and they both bring something new and interesting to the table. The Pale Sketcher Remix
is the EP's shortest track by far, clocking in at under 6 minutes. It utilizes layers of ambiance, acoustic guitars, electronic percussion, choral vocals, and various other effects (including, of course, sleigh bells) to create a surprisingly engaging ambient track. The second remix, the FINAL Remix
, is a more straightforward slab of ambient noise, bringing to mind acts such as Stars of the lid at times. It clocks in at over 14 minutes of length, and it prominently features what seems to be a super slowed-down version of the EP's main track to complement the SOTL-like ambiance.
Justin Broadrick has created some of the most interesting and unique Christmas tunes in recent memory. This surprisingly diverse EP features a bit of everything, from sludge to drone to electronic to ambient (and sleigh bells), and is all the better for it. If only other artists had the musical ingenuity and the willingness to experiment that the Godflesh legend has, Christmas would be a much more interesting time for music. But we all know that it's a long shot, so for now we are stuck with an exemplary EP that is musically good enough to deserve casual listens through a good set of earbuds and is Christmas-y enough to sneak into your parents' holiday playlist. Jesu has just made the season a bit more awesome, and for that, we thank the man.