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2021-01-24

OVERLORD MAN JESU ! (4 album reviews)



Well, I still got a couple of 2020 releases I want to review. So here's the first bunch of those:





PHARAOH OVERLORD - 6
(snakebite yellow vinyl) (2020)

As the title suggests this band from Finland already has several albums under its belly. It's in fact even a couple more than five releases since the year 2020. Shame on me that they weren't on my radar until now!
Of course I cannot dive into their whole discography now, but just peeking here and there it's obvious that their sound went through many transformations, beginning with a mixture of stoner, space and psychedelic rock / metal.

"6" is something totally different though. While all of the album's five tracks contain metal guitars, the sound is dominated by Moog synthesizers and groovy electronic midtempo beats. In its core this highly danceable synthwave. And also very sinister! That's not only because of some spooky sounds and melodies in the instrumentals, but due to the extremely upfront growl vocals, which immediately felt familiar on first hearing. Yet only when I received the LP I realized that the guttural organ belongs to none other than Isis' / Sumac's Aaron Turner.

Super sick shit. Party music somewhere between Carpenter Brut, "Spectre" Laibach and pure joyful evil.








OLD MAN GLOOM - Seminar VIII: Light of Meaning (LP)
(2020) / Seminar IX: Darkness of Being (LP) (2020)

Speaking of Aaron Turner, the man's also active in a certain little group called Old Man Gloom which released not one, but two albums last year, thankfully (and unlike the infamous "The Ape of God") not bearing the identical title.

But even though these are two seperate releases I find it hard not to view them as one double album, because they complement each other way too good. Both are obviously dealing with themes of death and love under the influence of the passing of former friend and band member Caleb Scofield, who still as writing credits on the music of several tracks. His successor is the always busy Stephen Brodsky, who was also Scofield's partner in his other band Cave In.

Old Man Gloom's ultra heavy post hardcore sludge doom... or whatever you fancy to call it is quite a special blend. It's abrasiveness and the couple of minutes of pure noise sprinkled here and there over both albums make sure that many casual listeners will soon flee for their life and probably miss that beyond the brutal repetitive nature reminiscent of Neurosis and Swans both works actually have a very honest beautiful soul, which even shows glimpses of itself in the music and lyricism of songs like "Calling You Home", "Death Rhymes" or "Love Is Bravery".

"You are agrain of sand
You are a drop of rain
A particle of light
And you can never end

You are a grain of sand
You are a drop of rain
So insignificant
And also everything"

What an epitaph!

Even though most songs are built around simple ideas and the prevalence of thick heaviness is almost constantly pummeling you into the ground, listening to both albums is a remarkably diverse journey, not only due to rotation between Turner, Brodsky and Nate Newton as lead vocalists, but also because of the sheer chops, creativity and intensity everyone brings to the table.

I won't tell you which of these seminars is better, because frankly I could never decide. Just get them both, they rule. 








JESU - Terminus
(LP) (2020)

With the return of Godflesh and many other projects going on anyway it has been a while since Justin K. Broadrick graced us with a full length release of Jesu. "Every Day I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came" came out way back in 2013.

Just like said album this new one is not one of Broadrick's most brutal or heavy works (Godflesh and JK Flesh have that aspect covered I guess), but mostly consists of slow and atmospheric shoegaze, which shows some affinity to doom and post rock, but also allows itself to bathe in dream pop sweetness.

While all eight songs are filled with longing and melancholy, they sound distinct enough from each other to keep the album interesting, which some being focussed on the slightly disharmonic guitar, while others are mostly dominated by electronic sounds. As always almost all instruments were played and programmed by Broadrick, except for the drums on a couple of tracks that demanded a more naturalistic feel and were performed by long-time collaborator Ted Parsons.

Especially with the title track and "Sleeping In" I maybe love the first half of "Terminus" a little bit more, but the songwriting and feeling is excellent throughout the whole album.

The most difficult track to get used to is the effect-laden "Consciousness", which is closest to the extreme experimentalism of the "Never" EP which was also released last year. But other than that EP which I skipped, because I just  couldn't get into it so far, I really dig this track. And it's followed up by even stronger material (what a majestic build-up in "Don't Wake Me Up" - and that sweet-sour final instrumental "Give Up"...), so my overall rating of the whole record should be no surprise:

"Terminus" clearly belongs to those Jesu releases I absolutely adore and is my favorite Jesu album since "Inifinity". (The cover artwork is even more minimalistic now than back in 2009.)

Praise the overlord!










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