Jesu, “Conqueror”

It seems that as heavy music pioneer Justin Broadrick ages, his music projects get relatively more accessible. As a member of Napalm Death, Broadrick helped spark the inception of grindcore; then he moved on to found industrial trailblazers Godflesh. After reportedly suffering a nervous breakdown in 2002, he reemerged three years later with Jesu, a trio whose sound fused the pulverizing riffs of Broadrick’s past projects with more hook-led motifs. Conqueror, Jesu’s second full-length album, leans much harder on ear-catching intervals than on ear-ravaging assaults. The difference is immediately apparent in the titular opening track, which beckons hypnotically with chunks of grumbling guitar, washes of trebly synth and Broadrick’s patient coo. “Transfigure,” “Weightless & Horizontal” and “Stanlow” employ the same sunshine-through-clouds aesthetic, flattening listeners against their chairs like a narcotic lead blanket. Though this full court press of sound is typical of Jesu’s arrangements, Conqueror’s more inviting approach eschews the harsher tones of previous releases, almost qualifying as a droning form of pop metal or even shoegaze. Neither of Jesu’s styles is necessarily better than the other; whether or not listeners enjoy flattening riffs minced with mellifluous melodies could decide their opinions of the album. That said, Conqueror effectively constructs a comfortable crush of a listening experience, laying out audiences flat and then wooing them with aural sweets. Here Broadrick proves his gradual acceptance of more sonorous styles is not surrender, but an alluring exploration of his punishing abilities.

Audio:

Jesu, “Conqueror”

Jesu, “Stanlow”

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