With Jesu’s 2007 album Conqueror, frontman Justin Broadrick crafted one of the greatest albums of his career, one that includes Godflesh’s formidable catalog as well as stints in Napalm Death, Head Of David, and sundry side projects. After Conqueror, though, Jesu seemed to run out of steam. The situation was perhaps compounded by the resurrection of Godflesh, not to mention the fact that Conqueror’s staggering mass and intimacy were elements no human could be expected to sustain. But after a handful of EPs and remixes, Jesu is back with Ascension, Conqueror’s proper sequel. It’s better than anyone, let alone Broadrick, had any right to expect. At first, Ascension sounds like a muted, grayscale version of Conqueror’s heavenly pressure and kaleidoscopic apocalypse. But as new elements like acoustic guitar and radically submerged vocals begin to fuse with meteoroid riffs and celestial melody, the album reveals a barren sense of triumph. “Fools” chimes like church bells in a sunken cathedral; “King Of Kings” concludes with a coda sculpted of clouds and drones. Only “Broken Home” conjures Conqueror-era Jesu—the song could be a child of “Weightless & Horizontal” and “Brighteyes”—but even then, its lead-apron heaviness bids a suffocating yet soothing farewell to what came before. No longer struggling to wake from bad dreams, Broadrick has rubbed the sleep from his eyes, dug through the rubble, and planted Ascension on the summit of the ruins of the world.
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