Undie metal and hip-hop, wrapped up in loveless squall

 Loveless would be a Taliban-rivaling FBI Most Wanted chart-topper if a half-decent album could be summoned before a tribunal and tried for crimes committed by bands that followed in its wake. ("I present the court exhibits A through C: Lilys, Giant Drag, and Ambulance LTD.") Probably the most aped timbre since Johnny Ramone's chainsaw mass-a-cree, My Bloody Valentine's wall-o'-squall has produced little more in the last 15 years besides limp whatevergazing tribute acts and gushy, overhyped Shieldstronica like M83 (who is a lot less fun than, say, Dykehouse).

Jesu's Justin Broadrick was making his guitars equally expansive and mushy way back in industrial-metal hug-thugs Godflesh—he even blessed the first track on Napalm Death's Scum with an acidic drop of pre-MBV monolithic heartburn—but Jesu's debut LP is full-on dreampop metal, guitars slowly whacked like open-tuned gongs, distortion enveloping every atom of the mix. Broadrick meticulously knits melodies with feedback like Earth on a Slowdive kick, layering the trademark squeal of a Gibson leaning against a Sunn amp (or a synth replicating it) until it morphs into neck-hair-raising church organs, squishy amplifier orgies, pink noise, and wet tangerine dreams. Jesu is an ex-God godsend for agoraphobic metalheads who described the last Isis record as "pretty" (remember the agoraphobic indie-rock types that described MBV as "noisy"?), matching nine-minute sludge fuck-sessions with gorgeous, overly reverbed vocal harmonies. Damn, and just when Low were starting to rock.

Jesu dreampop metalist Justin Broadrick
photo: Hydra Head Records
Jesu dreampop metalist Justin Broadrick


Hydra Head


Since Jesu's lethargic tempos and muffled gutterals leave little room for tunes and intelligible lyrics, Jesu's true feat is building a narrative for Broadrick's personal heartache yarns by using little more than texture and repetition. Same can be said for New Jersey hip-hop noise-bringers Dälek, whose third album, Absence, features monotonic, serious-as-cancer sermonizing that's indecipherable under all those blankets of shimmering scuzz—but the twurked drillgrind and Einstürzende B-boybaten boom-bap unleash a vivid terrordome where Molotovs burst against the doors of the WTO, angry black men burn white churches, and commercial hip-hop is held at gunpoint—all while DJ Still screams phoenix into the stylus of his turntable. After two albums that rocked bells and throbbed gristle in a way that felt more like science experiment than dropping science, Dälek has harnessed their acid bath (which sounds like such Broadrick noise-dub projects as Ice and Techno Animal, actually) and can now make it do their unholy bidding—consonant harmonies, screeching hum-alongs, warm fuzzies, muddy valentines.

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