For those who don’t know yet, Jesu is a post-metal/drone/shoegaze project from the UK started by the mastermind Justin K Broadrick (Final, Pale Sketcher, former bands: Napalm Death, Godflesh) after the split up of Godflesh. While Godflesh was a pretty heavy band, Justin decided to maintain this heavy sound in Jesu, but added electronic influences and tried to write accessible almost poppy songs. Those pop melodies are perfectly disguised in crushing drone heaviness and his soft, melancholic vocals also fit in quite well.
Jesu has released tons of EPs, but only 2 official LPs: Jesu (2004) and Conqueror (2007)
Now, after 4 years (with several EPs released in the meantime) they released the third LP called Ascension. What a title: Jesu Ascension. Well, while that nice chap called Jesus back in the day actually managed to ascend, the question now is if the band Jesu also made it with this album.
In my opinion they didn’t. And here’s why:
The album starts quite promising, but after a time it just gets really lost in itself. I liked tracks like Birth Day or Broken Home where Jesu tried to go back to the roots, with a slow, sludgy song and those particular keyboard sounds known from Jesu’s self-titled debut. But most of the songs sound rather boring actually. Nothing going on really. Ok, Jesu is known for not really adding lots of different parts to their songs. But they always managed to use such catchy tunes such as in Conqueror or Old Year that the song doesn’t get boring or too extensive. This time unfortunately most of the songs do. Especially the second half sounds really uninspired and nearly not distinctive at all. I didn’t care for tracks like Black Lies or Small Wonder at all and could easily skip those and would’nt miss anything in the album’s sound. There are also songs which are significantly shorter than Jesu’s usual length of 7-9 minutes. I also didn’t really care for those. The only songs I could like (but still found pretty weak in comparison to previous work) were the first four tracks, which unfortunately often prevents me from listening to this album the whole way through.
And then there’s this mixing. The vocals are way too quiet and the drums also sound kind of sloppy. I could probably enjoy the album a bit more if it weren’t for this horrible mixing. The songs did have heavy guitars and good vocals on them but they didn’t make me feel the same way I felt about the songs on Conqueror or Jesu – both due to the mixing AND due to the song-writing that wasn’t to my enjoyment.
Ascension is sadly one of the biggest disappointments of 2011 to me because it couldn’t live up to my expectations at all. And I really had some high expectations since I loved their 2 previous LPs and lots of their EPs too. Opiate Sun, their latest EP was already underwhelming though. Jesu developed a unique sound over the years and I started to love this sound. But with Ascension they kind of got lost in it and definitely should try something different with upcoming releases.
Favourite Song(s): Broken Home
Least Favourite Song(s): Brave New World, Black Lies, Small Wonder, Ascension
I hate to give a Jesu album this rating, but as for now:
Overall rating: 4/10