Not a British band for a change on my part, since Jesusexercise were from Sweden. While the Swedish punk scene is widely known and revered among punks (and for good reason, hasn't Sweden produced dozens of great crust bands throughout the years?), Jesusexercise remains an obscure band. One might point out that they were a short-lived band and that they chose a terrible name (that's not really questionable). But one should not judge a book from its cover: as the Debauchery album has shown us, terrific punk-rock can hide behind shitty cover or non-sensical names (see Japanese bands for more on this matter).
Jesusexercise played old-school crust music, which makes sense since this Ep was recorded in January 90. The first British crust wave was on its last breath at that time, but their influence on other scenes was starting to grow with bands like Hiatus, Coitus, SDS or Nausea all carrying the banner. I think Jesusexercise could be seen in the same light. Their artwork is very reminiscent of Amebix, Antisect ("Out from the void" era) and, anachronistically, of Warcollapse's early singles (I actually read somewhere that one member of Jesusexercise went on to play in Warcollapse, which would make sense visually and musically). For some reason, Sweden has never produced many old-school crust bands (or "stenchcore" if you really love the 21st century that much). Of course, you had Dom Där, a band that blended the classic mid-tempo crust epics (especially on the "Stench of decay" Ep) with their own brand of hardcore. It is no coincidence if two members of Dom Där also played in Jesusexercise at a time - the early 90's - when the crust influence was the most felt. Warcollapse, as brilliant as they have always been, only totally picked the stenchcore path on the one record, "Crust as fuck existence", a crushing tribute to the UK crust sound, a genre that they only hint at on other records (I mean, Warcollapse are more doomist than axegrindist, right?). If there was no shortage of the Anti Cimex/Extreme Noise Terror hybrid in Sweden, the mid-tempo crusty school was curiously relatively absent (not that the genre has ever been really widespread though) or fell, willingly I would suppose, in the death-metal trap. Even today, only Swordwielder seem to have been stung by the Amebix virus.
But back to Jesusexercise. There are three songs on this self-released record. On the A side, the eponymous track is a long anti-capitalist song, while on the B side the song "Revenge" (my favourite) deals with the need for the poor to fight back against their oppressors (class war or what?) and "Sick & holy" is an anti-religion song. The writing style is quite direct and you can feel the anger and the angst. Now, about the music. To put it bluntly, it is fantastic. Amebix's "Arise!" and Antisect's "In darkness" are obvious starting points. The sound is heavy and crushing but not in a metal way. The mid-tempo Antisect and Anti-System numbers might be good comparisons, a little like Bad Influence's heaviest moments. But what makes this band so unique is twofold: first, there is a strong Rudimentary Peni influence that gives the songs a very tortured and tormented feel (oddly the record is not too far from what Peni would record later, "Archaic" for instance), and second, the voice of the female singer. She manages to sound both pissed off and creepy, mad and bent on grinding the enemy. If Amy from Nausea had tried to sing like Blinko from Peni, I guess we'd have had something like Jesusexercise's vocals.
On the whole, this is a superb record and a rare example of a Swedish band influenced by the early Peaceville sound, but the band's name and the choice of the cover (the American eagle with missiles in its claws) didn't really reflect the content and hence didn't ultimately help the band. This is a shame because it really is that good and likely to be found in 1£ record bins all over the world.