Jesu seduces you with melodic bleaknesson November 23, 2020 at 6:00 pm

UK guitarist and composer Justin Broadrick is best known as a founding member of the industrial metal assault that is Godflesh. But capturing purely annihilatory noise in that pounding maelstrom is not his only musical interest. He formed Jesu in 2003 to focus on postpunk, goth, and the bleaker, lonelier shores of shoegaze, and characteristically, his latest album under that name, Terminus (Avalanche), is an exercise in nonmetal darkness that provides chiming soundscapes for a gray and empty existence. Broadrick conceived Jesu partially as an avenue to explore his own take on pop songwriting, and there are a lot of hooks drifting around in the growling murk of these songs. “When I Was Small” has a bottom-scraping stoner-sludge heaviness that grounds Broadrick’s strained, echo-laden, everydude vocals as he delivers lyrics (“I tried to see both sides / But I failed / I failed to be the one”) that feel like a good summation of the album’s thematic obsessions with mope and trudge and sadness. “Disintegrating Wings” is positively pretty, with crystal tones fluttering about until they come apart against huge distorted guitar chords. Jesu isn’t all about pounding you into paste (so in that sense it’s gentler than Godflesh), but the sweeter voice of Terminus is nonetheless intent on luring you into its own nightmarish abyss. v

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