Jesu – Silver

4 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Produced by: Justin K. Broadrick

I’m still not sure I “get” Jesu, but if I was ever going to, I’d bet bite-sized versions of Justin Broadrick’s shoegaze outfit would be the way to go.

Once more, we find ourselves, at least to start – with title track Silver – in Codeine territory: waves and waves of slow-roll guitar, and crunching, plodding percussion, given an interestingly melodic edge – over Justin’s monotone, drone hum of voice – via some tuneful distorted pluckings. Star follows this impressive opener by upping the pacing: a heavy, head-bobbing constant beat; a reverbed strum; and a more emotive Broadrick, before the track turns into a kind of classic grungey affair, thanks to the way the guitars kick in and out. Over the course of 7-minutes, Star dips and builds quite perfectly, never dragging a moment of that whole runtime.

The 8+ minute Wolves is where I start to hit my Jesu limit a bit, when the limited vocal range (and purposefully repetitive lyrics) stop short of creating effective drone / wall-of-noise, since the track feels a bit too similar to the intro. It’s not an immersion killer, necessarily, but I’m a bit less immersed, perhaps; no longer quite as impressed. However, if you jump right into this track, it’s quite beautiful, and the guitars are amped up just a bit more and a bit looser versus Silver, so it ultimately has the edge.

Closer Dead Eyes feels like another dip initially, the programmed drumbeat giving the song a softer vibe, like a remix of some other Jesu track, but it ends up being very worth it with some patience, the very processed sound paving the way for a raw, industrial beatdown towards the song’s climax.

I know Jesu fans will pitch me on different versions of the group, from stuff slightly closer to Godflesh to more poppy varieties, but if I had to choose a one-stop example of the artist, it’d likely be this EP. This – to me – provides the gist of the project, but is tight enough to not wear one down with excessive runtimes and the monotone sound, while also rather expertly varying up the pace and tone.