! = recommended
* = all-ages
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We usually think of Justin Broadrick and really, really distorted guitar in sort of the same light. Broadrick's best remembered for terrorizing eardrums in Napalm Death and Godflesh, a grindcore and an industrial band, respectively. Heavy guitar distortion's usually the way those type of bands go about terrorizing our eardrums, roaring out of the speakers like thunderbolts tossed down from Olympus: mean, hot and vengeful.
"The End of the Road" off Jesu's Lifeline EP should make us reconsider both. Broadrick's still no stranger to calling on circuitry to really, really mess up the sound of his guitar, but in Jesu, he uses it to persue different ends, searching out majestic cascades of shoegazer-like volume and distortion that engulf, but don't browbeat listeners. "The End of the Road," one of the band's more restrained numbers fires up the massive guitars for a slowly evolving song that's all about showing off Broadrick's newfound abilities at layering. With his vocal buried so deeply in the fog of distortion, it's nearly an instrumental track, as a nearly My Bloody Valentine-like ear for overwhelming atmospheres. It's humble, beautiful and probably everything you never expected from the dude who once shredded with Napalm Death.
But in music, as in life, isn't destroying expectations where all the fun is? Sure, we whine, bitch and moan when something doesn't stack up to what we'd hoped, but, really, if listening to music was so predictable, wouldn't our time be just as well spent watching primetime sitcoms?