JESU- Conqueror (Hydra Head Records)
Ex-NAPALM DEATH and GODFLESH member Justin Broaderick is one of the most important artists right now in the loosely categorized genre encompassing anything from 'post metal' to the ridiculous 'shoegaze' moniker. Whatever you want to label it as, he's pretty much the master, and his latest project JESU delivers again with the 2nd full-length album Conqueror
. Last year's Silver
EP showed a progression from the darker, more droning material found on the debut self-titled, even incorporating elements of indie rock/pop. On Conqueror
Broaderick continues to steer away from the doom 'n gloom, though this certainly isn't an upbeat album. A lot of music carries an atmosphere that I can only describe as nostalgic or sentimental in some way; its very introspective music. The drumming, handled here fittingly by ex-SWANS and GODFLESH drummer Ted Parsons, doesn't have much variation and instills the kind of softer industrial vibe perfected by the two bands he used to play with. Broaderick's vocals vaguely remind me of the guy from COLDPLAY for some reason, except he holds each note and sings as if he's heavily subdued. What's really striking is how its clear that no single instrument takes the lead in any of the songs, as the guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and electronics all come together in a glistening swirl; somehow the way its produced and mixed just gives me the image of everything sparkling and moving slowly through space. Conqueror
is a soothing, peaceful record that is perfect for a moonlit night and a good pair of headphones.
One of the only songs to feature a strong backing guitar riff, the album opens with "Conqueror", and once you've heard this song it basically indicates exactly how the rest of the album is going to be. Lyrically Conqueror
focuses a lot on repetition, as with the music, but lots of the words are really good. In the case of the dreary 10-minute "Weightless & Horizontal", it starts to feel very monotonous, but this style of music is set around an ambiance created through repetition. "Medicine" and "Brighteyes" are also highlights, especially lyrically, and the closer "Stanlow" really seals the deal and sums up the record I think.
Though admittedly this kind of music takes some patience and can seem monotonous, if you give yourself to it and put yourself in the right position to enjoy it, there can be some wonderful rewards. Conqueror
is a fine example of how ambient music can successfully be done.