Jesu is another musical project spearheaded by Birmingham-based musician and producer Justin Broadrick — a fixture of England’s extreme music scene since his membership in the earliest recording lineup of Napalm Death in the mid-’80s. Also an occasional member of several other bands (Head of David, Techno Animal, etc.), he is probably best known for his decade-plus leadership of pioneering industrial ensemble Godflesh. Finally having officially laid that hallowed institution to rest following a reported nervous breakdown in 2002, Broadrick turned his attention to a new entity, Jesu, which he named after the last song on Godflesh’s swan song, Hymns. Essentially a solo project with Broadrick handling vocals, guitars, bass, and programming, Jesu’s 2004 debut EP, Heart Ache, consisted of two 20-minute-long meditations melding uncompromising sonic textures with seemingly abstract musings and a few hard-won melodic rewards.
But with the next year’s eponymous full-length release, former Godflesh associate drummer Ted Parsons (also ex-Prong, Swans, etc.) and bassist Diarmuid Dalton were called in to help flesh out a more evenly paced, and certainly more focused (though only slightly shorter, at ten minutes average per piece), set of ambient, droning, and semi-industrial extrapolations. Jesu, the album, received almost unqualified critical acclaim across the world, and encouraged Broadrick to move ahead with his new endeavor, resulting in another form-challenging EP in 2006’s Silver. At the end of the year Broadrick was performing with Sunn 0))) on a tour of the U.K. while Jesu’s next album was leaking across the Internet. Early in 2007, Conqueror was officially released. A U.S. tour with Isis was supposed to coincide with the release, but work permits were not cleared in time and Jesu was not allowed entry into the country as the tour began.
Pale Sketches, a compilation of stray material that didn’t fit on any of the prior Jesu releases, was issued that October. A pair of split recordings came in 2008: one with Envy, and another with Battle of Mice. Toward the end of 2009, Jesu issued the Opiate Sun EP, on which Broadrick performed all instruments and vocals without assistance. Infinity, a nearly 50-minute, suite-like composition that featured Broadrick on all instruments including live drums, also arrived in 2009. The following year, Broadrick unveiled his Pale Sketcher alias; he remixed each Pale Sketches track and issued the results as Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed on Ghostly International. Later in the year, Heart Ache was reissued and combined with Dethroned (previously unreleased material dating back to 2003).
Broadrick’s Jesu re-emerged in 2011 with the more conventional, songlike Ascension on Caldo Verde (run by Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek). Broadrick went deeper and darker on 2013’s Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came, a five-track album that indulged not just his melodic art metal, but also the influences of dub, post-punk, and electronic music. By this time, Godflesh had reunited and were playing gigs at festivals; an EP (Decline & Fall) and full-length (A World Lit Only by Fire) both appeared in 2014. Nevertheless, Broadrick returned to the Jesu moniker with a long-promised collaboration with Sun Kil Moon, which appeared on Caldo Verde in January of 2016.
Jesu is available for corporate events, private shows, milestone celebrations (birthday, anniversary), fundraisers, festivals, and more.