Some know Birmingham-based Justin Broadrick as the mid-’80s guitarist for grindcore legends Napalm Death, or as the founder of the highly influential industrial group Godflesh, or as half of the hip-hop/techno duo Techno Animal. In indie circles, however, Broadrick is most known for fronting Jesu, the epic shoegazer band that draws influences from the obvious (My Bloody Valentine) to the disparate (all of his previous projects). Conqueror, Jesu’s second long player, is arguably Broadrick’s most complete statement to date.
The self-titled opening track hits it high point early and stays there for eight minutes of melodic drone and an ascending guitar line. “Transfigure” explores similar ground, it’s collision of layered guitars and soft vocals loosely resembling some buried pop song. “Weightless & Horizontal,” at the center of the eight-track album, is the record’s longest and most plaintive piece, relying on distant synths and rumbling guitars that build to a powerful conclusion, with Broadrick repeating, “Try not to lose yourself.”
Though the meticulous soundscapes and thoughtful compositions suggest a masterful and patient hand behind the board, the album’s grand atmosphere also suggests an organic and simple execution. Like a long, drawn-out exhalation, Conqueror‘s brooding pieces seem to have effortlessly transferred from Broadrick’s mind onto record. The warning on “Weightless & Horizontal” doesn’t quite hit the mark. This is music to lose yourself in.