If you play only the first few seconds of the four tracks on Opiate Sun together, it’s reminiscent of early computer music with attack-free fade ups. But it indicates what’s happening with Justin Broadrick’s continuing Jesu project, which I maintain is something special in terms of arrangement and concept.
It’s repeating itself.
In fact, it’s been repeating itself in the string of EPs and joint projects following Conqueror, his second full-length. And while the full-length Infinity was a break in form if nothing else—an album-long track of Jesu—it’s still very much consisting of plodding drums, mountains of guitar chords, endlessly layered vocals and elegant leads.
Stir and serve.
There are rays of diversity on Opiate Sun—it actually gains some character as it moves through its track list. Opener “Losing Streak” feels blithely repetitive in the aforementioned formula, but the title track that follows starts to break free from the format. “Deflated” starts off as the strongest cut until its rather uninspired break, one that unfortunately pulls what should be the album’s highlight down. The closer, “Morning Light,” shows the most promise, but the vocals are sparse and the track stands almost as an instrumental rather than a song.
Going back to our original experiment—the first few seconds of each song—Broadrick’s post-Conqueror affinity for pillow-y production takes a lot of bite out of tracks like “Deflated” and the title track, simply dulling the impact of his work. The rough edges and jangles of Jesu, the early Silver EP and Conqueror have been smoothed over, but instead of refining the sound, it’s left Jesu tamer.