Jesu - Opiate Sun
Caldo Verde Records
Doom/Shoegaze
4 songs (25:54)
Release year: 2009
Jesu
Reviewed by James

After this year's disappointing Infinity, Justin Broadrick tries a different tack with the Opiate Sun EP, released through none other than Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters miserablist Mark Kozelek's Caldo Verde records. As Jesu seem to be a band who work best in the EP format, Silver generally being regarded as their best work, I had high hopes for Opiate Sun. And as you'd expect for a record put out on a label not usually associated with metal, the EP is a step back from the doomier Infinity to the warm, enveloping metalgaze of Conqueror. Losing Streak starts us off with big, thick guitar riffs and Broadrick's reverb-drenched singing. Interestingly enough, while Jesu's sound is usually that of a none-more-British band, rooted firmly in the likes of the shoegaze and dream pop movements, there's a little bit of Mark Kozelek's brand of Americana in the slow, loping drum beats and the almost Neil Young-esque guitar work at times. Not that the signature Jesu sound isn't there, the guitar sounding every bit as vast as the North Wales countryside in which Opiate Sun was recorded. It's once again a solo venture rather than a full-band project, but the programmed drums don't sound nearly as flat and annoying this time out. Indeed, Opiate Sun feels like a far more natural release compared to the overly-processed and computerized Infinity.

While it's undoubtedly a lighter and happier release than Infinity (and JKB doesn't wreck everything with poorly-placed growling) it's the slightly more melancholic second half that's the records highlight, with its crunching metallic verses and mournful vocals, though even these build to the typical sunlight-bursting-through-clouds chorus. Indeed, the only real complaint I can throw at Opiate Sun is that it's very, very one-note, all soaring echo-y vocals, rumbling guitar and deathly slow beats. The second half goes someway to remedy this, though, mixing it up with more metallic riffing and perhaps a bit more of a clearly defined structure, closer Morning Light being Jesu in full-flight and an example of what JKB can do when he really goes for it. Which is nice, because although there's nothing wrong with Losing Streak and the title track, they don't really do much other than sound pretty, and there's nothing that immediately differentiates the two tracks.

Opiate Sun isn't exactly a masterpiece, but it's a big step back towards Jesu's previous form and a whole lot better than Infinity. 2009 wasn't the greatest year for Justin K. Broadrick, but the back half of Opiate Sun shows he can still squeeze out some great material when needed. It's just whether he can pull it together and start making consistently great music, or if Jesu are doomed to be a band with a few diamonds in amongst all the rough.

Killing Songs :
Deflated, Morning Light
James quoted no quote
Other albums by Jesu that we have reviewed:
Jesu - Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Jesu - Ascension reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Jesu - Infinity reviewed by James and quoted 52 / 100
Jesu - Silver (EP) reviewed by Adam and quoted no quote
Jesu - Heart Ache reviewed by Aaron and quoted no quote
To see all 7 reviews click here
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