Jesus Piece - Only Self (Cover Artwork)

Jesus Piece

Only Self (2018)

Southern Lord

Nu-metal is having a moment. Bands are now openly associating with the genre thanks to Code Orange’s successful incorporation of groove elements and industrial into hardcore. The hot take economy has been in overdrive lately churning out retrospective looks at albums like Three Dolla Bill, Y’all$ and Follow The Leader. As someone who witnessed the initial round of nu-metal bands reach pop-star levels of success in the late 90s and early 2000s, it’s a bit confounding given the general corniness and baggage of those involved. None the less, today’s followers actively claiming those associations are doing something interesting with heavy music. Jesus Piece fit that mold.

The Philadelphia metal band are seeking association with bands like Vein and Harm’s Way with their debut album Only Self. Indeed, they have incorporated some of the bass driven groove elements of the aforementioned bands, spending time transitioning between grindy guitar riffs, metalcore underpinnings, and straight-up hardcore. The five-piece are Pennsylvania scene veterans who play in a smattering of bands on the cusp of a wider audience in the underground heavy music scene.

Throughout Only Self, the band find their base in metalcore. You’ll find moments that give off Killswitch Engage vibes in many songs. A locust buzz builds into Glassjaw-style riffage in “Adamant.” “Work Horse” and “Oppressor” finish on bars perfect to two-step too. It makes sense why Jesus Piece have found success at the This Is Hardcore festival. One of the nice features on this release is the dirtier production style when compared to the sheen on the latest Harm’s Way and Code Orange albums.

The most interesting moments on Only Self though are when Jesus Piece’s ambition is given room to breath. Spanning over seven minutes, “I” and “II” bring a late album exploration of post-rock into their metalcore leanings. The atmospheric build up and layered vocals reach Explosions In The Sky and Neurosis type textures. You can sense Jesus Piece have ambitions beyond their foundation.

I don’t know what to make of the nu-metal resurgence, but it is exciting to see bands experimenting in pushing hardcore and metal in interesting directions. Jesus Piece are certainly one of those bands, but it seems like the moments with staying power on Only Self are the ones that hint at the shape of things to come.