Album Reviews

Jesu: Terminus – “a collage of the past”

After a seven year absence, Justin Broadrick re-emerges as Jesu.

In 2013, Justin Broadrick pressed the pause button on Jesu , after having been on a prolific run with the project in the preceding nine years, which saw him release some of his most vital works as a recording artist.

Broadrick‘s alternative at the time was to dive back into the raging hellfire of Godflesh.

Having reformed in 2010, midway through 2014 saw the release of the Decline and Fall EP with the contemptuous belligerent full-length, A World Lit Only By Fire, to follow shortly before the end of 2014.

The first Godflesh studio album since 2001’s Hymns, AWLOBF possessed the kind of frozen-eyed fury that wasn’t afforded to us by Broadrick‘s Jesu project. On Terminus, Jesu’s first full-length album since 2013’s Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came, in an uncertain world it seems the perfect time for a resurrection with Broadrick coming up for air to once again demonstrate his gentle side.

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Having released the Never EP just before lockdown earlier this year, Terminus comprises of themes based on loneliness, death, hope and love. A reflective broad-church of ideas and if anything it unfurls as a collage of Jesu‘s past recordings.

Sonically, the sombre, slow repetitious instrumentation builds and churns, forming an atmospheric sprawl which largely dominates Terminus. Mechanical slow-core dirges akin to the Red House Painters, the blustery drones of Sunn O))) and searing shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. All artists dotted throughout different worlds, but with Jesu, Broadrick has always reached far and wide for his influences in order to maximise the results and it’s no different with Terminus.

“I tried to see both sides/But I failed to be the one/The one that’s meant to be,” sings Broadrick on opening cut, When I Was Small, before his voice gets swallowed up by those trademark Jesu atmospherics that are the sound of heaven’s gates opening. Similar themes are explored later in the album with Don’t Wake Me Up.

Jesu - Terminus

Single, Alone, follows and is the most direct song on Terminus. It may just be the best, too. Broadrick pits themes of anxious solitude and loneliness against a sonic backdrop that imbues hope. It’s the most accessible song Jesu has produced.

Which is something the title track is not. If anything, it’s equally as instant but its repetitious rhythms and low end bass gives it a cold-eyed mechanical feeling – the kind of song that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Jesu’s seminal album 2007 album, Conqueror or the equally revered Silver EP.

So too, with Sleeping In and Disintegrating Wings – songs oozing with juddering drones and dirge-laden hymnal qualities which Jesu has always harnessed.

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Throughout the years Broadrick has subtlety woven the electronic elements of his JK Flesh and Pale Sketcher guises into the Jesu patchwork and on Consciousness he does it perfectly. Bathed in auto tune and digitised drum beats, it’s a song that Low could have toyed with during the Double Negative sessions.

And the beats don’t stop there, with closing instrumental, Give Up, sounding more like something that could have ended up on Pale Sketcher’s Seventh Heaven EP – one of Broadrick’s strongest pieces of work aside from Jesu and Godflesh.

Terminus is a welcome return for Jesu. Between its digital slow-core explorations and interpretations of slow-motion post-metal, whatever you wish to call it, Jesu is the gateway for Broadrick to showcase his tender side.

After decades not limited to spitting rancour at us with Godflesh, being the source of bowel-twitching beats with Techno Animal and providing the immoral dissonance through JK Flesh, Jesu is the final piece of the puzzle that bestows Broadrick as the finished article and one of the most vital, esoteric artists in the world today.

Terminus is yet another compliment to that.

Terminus is out now via Avalanche Recordings.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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