Jesus Piece are something of a musical dichotomy and this isn’t lost on the band themselves. While reflecting on their sophomore LP ‘…So Unknown’, frontman Aaron Heard pragmatically states “’…So Unknown’, it sums up our band. Everything about us has always been an unknown situation. We didn’t know what we were supposed to sound like, we didn’t know who we were supposed to tour with, and that’s stuck with us from the start. We’re a very enigmatic band.” The perception of the Philadelphia band being a baffling and intriguing quantity is exemplified in their recent Records in my Life episode. Heard and drummer Luis Aponte delved deep into their individual and collective influences that encompassed metal acts like Devourment and Sanguisuabogg, and seminal hardcore band, Youth of Today. However, given their lust to circumvent any kind of pigeonholing, the duo also cited the likes of Sonic Youth, Bloc Party, Slowdive, Wu-Tang Clan, Burial, Jimi Hendrix and Aphex Twin as pivotal inspirations, to name a few. Suffice to say, Jesus Piece aren’t your archetypal metal outfit.
‘…So Unknown’ is an uncompromising, brutal affair that packs a mighty wallop in a brisk 28 minutes thanks to its metallic riffs, pummelling drums and Heard’s feral growl. It’s a record of complex density that delivers punishing blow after punishing blow. While it might not be immediately obvious, the group’s diverse influences make the odd cameo appearance amongst the unrelenting bludgeoning. ‘Silver Lining’ incorporates the wall of sound DNA of Slow Dive and Sonic Youth for something epic yet guttural. Additionally, the particularly apt cry of “us against the world” epitomises Jesus Piece’s stance of being an “enigmatic band.” Follow up track ‘Gates of Horn’ inhabits the abrasive wasteland between shoegaze, metal and hardcore, with a sound that flits from widescreen to accelerated brutality. The same can be said for ‘An Offering to the Night’ and ‘Stolen Life’ that both squirm with shifting time signatures and groove-laden weird breakdowns. It’s beguiling how Jesus Piece (completed by Dave Updike (guitar), John Distefano (guitar) and Anthony Marinaro (bass)) can skip from atmospheric grandeur, savage metal and off-kilter oddities in the space of a few minutes but still sound heavy and coherent at the same time.
The same sense of razor-sharp defiance barked on ‘Silver Lining’ is peppered throughout ‘…So Unknown’, whether it’s the barbaric yowl of “so fucking spineless” on opening track ‘In Constraints’ or “you don’t like what you’re hearing/fuck the bullshit” via ‘FTBS’s short, sharp blasts; Jesus Piece appear well accustomed with being rebellious outliers in a field of their own. It really feels like “us against the world” when the fivesome are firing at full tilt.
Jesus Piece have stated that ‘…So Unknown’ is the closest representation of them as a live band and as a functional unit. One thing is for sure, this feels like the first step in the group’s continuous evolution – yes this is them right now, but you’d be stupid to think this is their final destination.
Words and thoughts by Adam Williams
Pre-order …So Unknown by Jesus Piece HERE
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