Album Reviews

Jesu – Ascension

on June 03, 2011, 7:59am
Jesu - Ascension B
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Is there music more epic on this earth than Justin K. Broadrick‘s?

I know “epic” is an overused term in Interwebs discourse these days but with Ascension, Broadrick’s one-man project Jesu’s first conventional full-length since 2007’s drone-metal classic, Conqueror, even its short song titles inspire vision of a grand sweep (e.g.“King of Kings”, “Brave New World”).

And Broadrick’s output justifies the word. It’s not like he’s been resting on his laurels for four years since Conqueror: two splits, a one-track drone opus, three EPs, and a double album, for one helluva incredibly prolific pace.

So I have to turn my hand here. I’m a sucker for epic, ambitious, and beautiful music. I love dreamy shoegaze and I love artsy metal. So naturally, I love Jesu. And while Broadrick, formerly a member of extreme metal cornerstone bands Napalm Death and founder of Godflesh, can do some wrong by me, there’s not much filler in this, one of Broadrick’s dozen or so musical monikers.

With so much material in one record, with such intense long-windedness, it’s helpful to give frame of reference: if Sigur Ros played riffy, heavy metal (something you can kind of tell the guys in Sigur Ros might be wont to do) it would probably sound something like Jesu.

Like Sigur Ros, the sound is so big, and so full, Ascension makes everything played before and after it on a playlist sound meek, fumbling, and scared to be itself. What other music, especially metal, sounds this austere, crushing, and gorgeous? And the riffs! And it has clean-sung hooks! No one can best what Jesu does… except for Broadrick himself.

Of course, any minor decline in quality output is likely a result of Broadrick getting his own way. And there are some quibbles here. The leaner songwriting on Ascension could very well best Conqueror if it weren’t for the scratchy production (why do the drums sound ratty, the synths sound tinny and everything else really seamless?), but it’s still Broadrick’s best Jesu record since then.

Your move, rest of the music world.

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