Review Summary: A nearly fifteen year old collection of songs that can stand proudly next to any hardcore released this year.
It’s not often that “legendary” groups go without a major release until an ultimate posthumous collection of their works, and one which surfaces nearly fifteen years after their demise. Such is the case for hardcore act, Jesuit, a group which for years has had many scouring the internet for any scrap or morsel of information. This is all in hopes to uncover something, or anything from the group that produced musicians that would later go on to form Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan--legendary bands in their own right. Hailing from Virginia, the DIY band existed for a short while in the mid 90’s, playing their frenetic act to cramped crowds in stuffy basements, eliciting chaos and pandemonium at each stop whilst stripping the genre down to its most bare and raw sensibilities.
However, the public at large has not been exposed to the band so many revere as “groundbreaking.” And really, how could they, after all, 2011’s Discography
is Jesuit’s first, and only major release. A side from some 7”, demo tapes, and EP’s, the band’s music has been pretty difficult to get a hold of. It’s better late than never it seems, for the people at Magic Bullet Recordings have released Discography
, with all twelve of the band’s tracks. Yet if this weren’t sweet enough, all tracks have been re-mastered- polished and refined by none other than Kurt Ballou, of Converge fame, at his esteemed God City recording studio. With so much going in its favor, it seems that the stars have aligned for this release, but does it live up to the expectations"
meets those expectations, and in some respects, actually exceeds them.
What’s so impressive about the record is how fresh it actually sounds. It’s visceral and coarse, but underneath the musical violence and chaos is something exceptionally well thought out and wonderfully executed. The band is accredited with infusing a sense of “unpredictability” into the scene, and it’s easy to see why, as each of the album’s twelve tracks stand out as wholly unique from one another. This is thanks in part to Jesuit’s ability to seamlessly move from one style to the next, all while keeping the same consistency. What really stands out as unique, however, is the way Discography
is set up. The songs follow a reverse chronological order, meaning that the band’s latest material is actually at the front of the album, while the band’s demo tape material is located at the end. It’s interesting, really, as the listener is able to back-track the band’s evolution, all the way to their earliest days.
In reflecting back to those early days, it becomes readily apparent how much they had grown as a band in such a short time. Starting out as a “rough around the edges” hardcore act, Jesuit quickly evolved their sound to encompass a more sludgy, metal-influenced aesthetic. They’re two sides of the same coin that is Discography
, but the refinement of their later outputs makes the first half of the album shine brilliantly. With the first nine songs, the production and recording is absolutely incredible, and the latter three, while charming, aren’t up to snuff. Yet the charm is there, and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the raw, unrefined energy that is really quite palpable. Jesuit really boasted quite an estimable group of musicians, namely Brian Benoit and Nate Newton, who, as stated earlier, went on to form two highly revered bands. While flourishes can be heard of what those bands would later become, it’s difficult to say that there is an intense correlation in sound. Vocals are where the band really display some power, as well, with the vocalist tapping into a deeper, Jacob Bannon-esque scream. The delivery is rather intense, which mirrors the music quite well.
Yet songwriting is really where the band excels, as damn near every track is a commendable achievement. The intro, “Car Crash Lullaby,” starts off with a powerful drum and riff laden beginning, with jarring lulls in between each bout of intensity. “Your Sharp Teeth” follows suit, with a murky, noisy affair, full of unpredictable dynamic shifts and frenzied instrumentation. “Cop Glasses” is really the only track that stands out as questionable. Clocking in at six and a half minutes, this purely instrumental track features high pitched noises and oddly placed effects that play over a constant “chugging.“ It’s kind of neat in that it mixes things up a bit, but it overstays its welcome, and ultimately is rather skippable. Things drastically change around the tenth track, where “Trigger” kicks off the noticeable shift in sound. Much more abrasive, the last three tracks feature a noisier, more old-school hardcore punk type of sound. The vocals featured are more “screechy,” and the guitars become more content on riffing than actual provocative playing. However, the angst, anger, and violent sentiments are really rather endearing, and offer up a great picture of a youthfully exuberant group of guys at the outset of their careers.
is a marvel, and although it’s years late to the party, it can still stand proud and tall next to even this years releases. Full of great ideas, and beautifully executed, Jesuits only proper LP is something of a treasure; a window into a time where chaos wasn’t a gimmick, and where palpable emotions were actually genuine.