Justin Broadrick almost suffered a nervous breakdown in 2002 when his pioneering industrial-metal band Godflesh imploded. Yet it took only four months for him to release Heart Ache, the debut EP by his current project, Jesu. Named after the last track on Godflesh’s final album, Hymns, Jesu has become a unique entity in its own right—but Heart Ache is a Broadrick solo recording, and he pours years of frustration into its two 20-minute tracks. While the heavier sections of “Heart Ache” and “Ruined” are textbook Godflesh, both songs use elements like haunted piano, cathedral-sized atmospherics, and shoegaze overload to shade Broadrick’s alternating depression and rage. It isn’t the melodic, metalgaze masterpiece Jesu would eventually make, but Heart Ache is harrowing and, in a starkly emotional way, even more absorbing.
Never widely available and long out-of-print, Heart Ache has been reissued with the addition of Dethroned, a collection of four demo tracks recorded in 2003, but previously unreleased. Murky and abrasive, the new material comes on like a punk version of Jesu; stripped of most electronics and dynamics, it’s a Broadrick riff-fest, jagged around the edges and nearly dehumanized. That said, it’s a blitzkrieg of fizz and catharsis—and when Broadrick gets moodier and mellower on Dethroned’s closer, “I Can Only Disappoint You,” it sounds no less gloriously elegiac than heavy-metal Joy Division.