It’s dark down here. So dark. The walls are closer than I’d expected, the ceiling, lower. So dark. Can’t really feel my feet anymore – laying down for hour after hour has seen pins and needles develop into an irreversible numbness. My eyes don’t see anything in the blackness except the blackness; my breathing is shallow and stuttered. The air’s heavy, the oxygen spent. I’m going to die down here.
Dying with decent music: The Paper Chase once penned a song about it. They never came close, though, to the aural horrors of Jesu’s debut album. This eponymous release is music to bury yourself to, music that sows the seeds of a thousand inescapable nightmares. You drown in it; it buries you alive and pours the soil over the last box you’ll ever own. It hammered the final nail into the casket; it kicked you into the pit with a sadistic smile. It never brought flowers. If it did, they’d die.
Jesu isn’t likely to appease sensitive ears: everything is done to extremes, emotionally, technically and artistically. The packaging is bleak, the cover design depicting a view looking outwards from inside a room. Or maybe a hole. The dirt’s getting deeper…
The opening track, ‘Your Path To Divinity’, is no-punch-pulling introduction. Here are titanic, industrial riffs, and drumbeats blasted by distorted electronic squall. Imagine some heavenly midpoint between the grandeur of Isis and the grinding, unrelenting power of prime Nine Inch Nails. Think hard…
You’ve all the time in the world to think, down here…
Tragedy juxtaposed with hope: Jesu is a struggle, a burden for the listener to bear. Its fruits fall slowly; its charms buried as deep as you are – as I am, as we are – beneath almost impenetrable white noise. Tragedy breeds tragedy: ‘Friends Are Evil’ explodes into life after two minutes of preamble. It rumbles, ear-piercingly, for a further eight. All hope is lost down here, all light extinguished. ‘Tired Of Me’ closes at a funeral pace, its marching drums signalling the end of the ceremony.
What ceremony? This is a guerrilla grave digging; the occupant, unwilling.
The darkness is briefly broken – the mid-song tonal switch of ‘We All Faulter’ a shining beacon in a mist of deepest black. It parts the clouds and the sun streams down. For a few fleeting minutes, salvation is a distinct possibility. Of course, to live without pessimism – always eyeing the possible over the probable – is to die forever disappointed. The song’s appearance is a rope-a-dope, and the pressure grows.
Disjointed, spectral voices call. Another place waits. We’re all going; it’s how you get there that gives us the feeling of individuality. Such individuality is battered into nothingness when Jesu plays; when the flames flicker upwards, licking at their highest. Numbness spreads and the world dissolves.
The darkness, this darkness, has consumed everything.
8Mike Diver's Score