November 1, 2007

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Jesu, Lifeline
Hydra Head Records, Oct. 9
This makes five releases from Jesu this year, counting their split 12” with ambient mad scientist Eluvium. Jesu’s writing process is conducive to such prolificacy, the only necessary ingredients being four sludgy chords, cymbal-splashing garage drums and former Godflesh/Napalm Death frontman Justin Broadrick’s unperturbed Pink Floyd-like vocals. The general public has always been a sucker for slow, melodic slickness that’s easy to keep up with and accurately slap their steering wheels to, so this band gives the people what they want, with quanta more heaviness than Spacemen 3 while they’re at it. But don’t glean from that that this is a SunnO))) bliss overindulgence; there’s bliss, but more in line with a cross between Neurosis and Flowchart without the inherent Bluto-voiced singing and bubbleheaded techno. Okay, you don’t know a single damn one of those bands, and major props to you for being an unfussy citizen — just picture Pink Floyd stripped down to nothing, no keyboards, stuck in a studio where the guitar amp is set up at the end of a cathedral-sized room, all this playing songs that you could easily learn to like. For those folks still jiggy with my obscure-o-rama-influence flow, this has gotten so good that ex-Swans singer Jarboe takes one song of this four-song EP, which is actually a sight better-sounding than the band’s Conquerer full-length. The title track hangs on the same all-hands-on-deck guitar arpeggio that opens Aerosmith’s “Sick as a Dog,” a nice stab at mass appeal. A- Eric W. Saeger