Forgotten series: Jesu – Jesu (2005)

Godflesh was gone, but one of the men behind it, Justin Broadrick, resurrected the sound and infused it into a new band, Jesu. Where Godflesh pummelled the listener with chunky, deep-gouging riffs, Jesu takes on the task by intensifying every riff by simplifying and extending it.

An incredible, dense bank of sound intimidates the listener at first, but upon closer inspection it reveals an unusual trait: it is the sound of worship. Make no mistake about it, there’s no coincidence that God is to Jesus as Godflesh is to Jesu.

Much like John Coltrane’s final few years of work, Jesu approaches music as an attempt to depict the nature of God. The long, slow repetition of simple, but heavily detuned chords mimics, in a way, the chanting of monks. It is not hard to see Broadrick connecting through his own sheets of sound with a God he grapples with understanding. What he sees, as evidenced by the music of the brutal opening track “Your Path to Divinity,” must be as overwhelmingly terrible as it is beautiful.

Broadrick employs much of the same sound he used with Godflesh: amps pushed past their peak performance, guitars and basses tuned down until the strings practically flop like spaghetti, and nearly tribal drumming (live drumming provided by Ted Parsons, unlike Godflesh’s intriguing use of drum machines in their heyday. Parsons also filled the drum role for Godflesh when they abandoned drum machines in their later years.)

The difference with Jesu is almost as if Broadrick took a magnifying glass to Godflesh’s songs, expanding on the riffing in the choruses until they filled his view, and called these pieces songs. What would have been a minute of a Godflesh song fills nine in Jesu’s hands. The result is as soundscape of terrifying beauty created from moaning, wailing distortion, slow-motion drums, and, at times, minimalist vocals.

Fans of Godflesh might not have been dissatisfied, but they likely needed some time to comprehend the religious aspect of the music to fully appreciate it. Recommended for fans of Neurosis, Isis, and Pelican: Godflesh were the originators of this style, and Jesu was without a doubt the son of Godflesh.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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