(This is Andy Synn‘s review of an expanded EP by the Detroit band Jesus Wept, released by Redefining Darkness Records on August 21st.)
Let’s make one thing clear. Apartheid Redux is, as you might have guessed from its name, not a totally new release, even though this is the first time it’s being featured here.
As a matter of fact four of these six tracks (glossing over, for now, the fun but disposable WASP cover which appears on some editions) were first heard on Jesus Wept’s appropriately crush-tastic and catchy-as-hell debut EP, Crushing Apartheid.
But, thanks to Redefining Darkness Records, who recently decided they’d be the ones to pluck the group from relative obscurity, the music from that record, along with two additional (and similarly killer) tracks is finally getting a much-needed and well-deserved wider release.
Listening to the four tracks from the original EP you can clearly see why both the band and the label felt like Crushing Apartheid deserved a second chance at reaching a wider audience.
Opener “Buried Face Down”, for example, hits a sweet spot right between Heartwork-era Carcass and Burn My Eyes period Machine Head – a sweet spot I didn’t even know existed but which now craves constant stimulation, hence why I’ve had this EP on repeat for the last couple of weeks – while “Drowning in Holy Water” (all forty-one furious seconds of it) leans a little more towards the Symphonies of Sickness side of things, with an added injection of mid-90s Napalm Death just to keep things interesting (and even more intense).
Then there’s “Hammering the Nails” whose even more shameless Carcass worship is delivered with an even more stripped-down, no frills, Hardcore dynamic (culminating in one seriously heavy, chug-ugly climax), after which “Jesus In Chains (Father In Hell)” doubles down on all of this while also slathering on a glaze of deathly, Dismember-esque melodic menace to sweeten the deal.
Of the two “new” (or, at least, new to this release) tracks, “Comfortably Dumb” locks into a churning groove nice and early – part Carcass, part Bolt Thrower, and partially reminiscent of Wolvhammer at their heftiest and hookiest – and then proceeds to just grind down all your resistance through sheer, irresistible attrition, after which “Fucked on the Cross” goes right for the gut with some brash, belligerently groovesome riffs, building to a bleaker and more melodic, not to mention slightly more risqué, bridge (complete with the requisite sampled moans of pleasure/pain), before bringing things home with yet another massive, lurching breakdown/slowdown right at the end.
Of course you could never claim that what Jesus Wept do is particularly original… but then what band really is?
Yet, for some reason, the simple fact that the band wear their influences so brazenly and blatantly out in the open is a big part of what makes this EP work for me. They’re not trying to hide who they are or where they come from.
In fact, if anything, the sheer simplicity of the band’s formula, coupled with the sheer brass-balls and give-no-fucks attitude with which they perform, has me wondering why no-one else seems to have thought about mixing these specific ingredients together like this before now!
In hindsight it seems like a complete no-brainer, especially considering how obscenely popular and influential albums like Heartwork, Burn My Eyes, and The IVth Crusade were back in the day (and still are).
But, then, you know what they say, “good bands borrow, great bands steal… and the really great ones make it look easy while they do it!”