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Mostly Forgettable - 55%

wEEman33, April 10th, 2010

For artists as prolific as Justin Broadrick, quality control is simply an unavoidable issue. While some artists are comfortable spending their entire career redressing the same content in slightly modified forms, Broadrick can at least say that he's truthfully never released the same album twice, whether with Godflesh or with his current project, jesu.

While Lifeline experiments with infusing some electronic influences into the dreamy pop sound of the previous LP, Conqueror, it falls short of maintaining the same long-term impact that's kept tracks like "Medicine" spinning in the minds of jesu fans from first-listen to the present. While three of Lifeline's four tracks are reasonably good, "Storm Comin' On" -- whose writing credits are actually attributed to Swans singer Jarboe -- leaves such a bitter taste behind that it's hard not to walk away from this album feeling unimpressed and apathetic about its overall content.

It's a shame that jesu's best overall EP, Sun Down/Sun Rise, isn't even available in CD format outside of Japan, because EPs like Lifeline and Silver just feel like throwaways by comparison.

Storm Comin' On. - 75%

Perplexed_Sjel, April 1st, 2008

If you pay close attention to Jesu’s entire career, you’ll see that listening to their music is like watching weather reports throughout the week. As I’m sure I’ve stated before. As much as you think you’ll be able to predict the forecast, change will always occur. One moment, we’re presented with sunshine and a warm breeze. The next, we have a downpour on our hands. The same, in a metaphorical sense, could be said about Jesu. Now, if you’ve paid particular attention and kept an eye on their sound, down to the every last detail, you’d probably be accustomed to the changes the band so often makes. Whether they’re small, or big changes, you notice. The one thing about the ‘Lifeline’ EP is that the change is much more noticeable that is has ever been before.

The vocals have always been whimsical by nature. Justin likes to keep his fans on the edge of their seats, waiting and watching to see what difference he’ll make to his voice in upcoming releases. On ‘Lifeline’ they’re much more mellow than they have ever been before. The inclusion of female vocals is also a smart touch. There is a huge market in the metal industry for female vocals. Whilst I’m never usually a major fan of female vocalists, as they mostly tend to delve into the operatic style when it comes to metal, they‘re different on ‘Lifeline‘. There are occasions when the female vocalist reminds me of the Battle Of Mice vocalist, Julie. Her voice, at times, is rather sultry. Considering the evolution of Jesu, her vocals fit nicely into the mix as opposed to contradicting it’s sound. Her voice flows alongside the ambience of the keyboards and the rhythmic beating of the drums. A very nice touch indeed. Fans of the older Jesu material will recall with fondness the powerful edge Justin always had to his vocals. When the guitars took a break from being the driving force behind the scene, the vocals were always there, ready and waiting to fill in any gaps that might show themselves.

The difference being these days is that the harsher style he once instilled into the frameworks of Jesu’s sound simply wouldn’t cut it with the new material. When you take a more mellow path, the vocals must follow, and usually do, otherwise the music will no longer stand side by side, or hand in hand to face the barrage of critics waiting to unravel all the faults. This is where the smart inclusion of using female vocals comes into largely into play. As the keyboards have slowly began to take over and evolve that shoegaze sound, Jesu have decided to dedicate their sound to the mellow side of metal, if you can call it that. Song writing is a particular element which has to be top notch in order for a band to survive the onslaught of critics and fans alike, and again, Jesu have come up trumps. Although the progression isn’t to everyone’s liking, one can appreciate the efforts put into making the material work for the rest of us. The style of the new Jesu is extremely accessible to the audiences across the globe anyway. That fact is cemented by the fact that the fan base of this British act has significantly been bolstered in the past year.

It would seem the old style of droning down tuned riffs is a distant memory. One, of course, which will shall cherish, but music is about evolution. Jesu are evolving and their music is just so accessible that anyone could come along for the ride if they gave it enough time to settle in. That seems to the main aspect of Jesu’s music that makes it sell. Although it may not be your cup of tea to begin with, it lodges itself in to your mind and stays there. Slowly, but surely bringing you around to the sound of the blissful backdrop of the soundscapes which are largely created by the keyboards. The electronic influence is undoubted. Long may this variation continue.

Another Brilliant Jesu EP - 100%

ChrisDawg88, November 14th, 2007

2007 sure has been a hell of an eventful year for Jesu. Aside from releasing their second (and widely hyped) full-length album Conqueror, the band has toured the U.S. twice (the first of which was marred by immigration problems), released two EP’s, a split, and a compilation/rarities album. So, is this high productivity taking its toll on the band’s creative prowess? I really loved Conqueror for the first several weeks I had it, and still revisit its stand-out tracks regularly. However, many felt that the album was somewhat unfocused and lacked direction and interesting material at times, and I have to agree that the album was a step down from the already-legendary EP that proceeded it, Silver. Some have said (including Broderick himself) that the music of Jesu, especially in their shoe gaze-influenced era, is simply better suited to shorter EP’s. If that’s the case, then its time to celebrate, for here we have the band’s newest 28-minute masterpiece, appropriately dubbed Lifeline. And it is, once again, superb.

This is an outstanding release that I believe stands toe-toe with anything in the band‘s back catalogue, including Silver. Lifeline’s deep yet incredibly catchy songs and darkly emotional atmosphere gives me the same sort of kid-in-a-candy shop feeling I had when first listening to Jesu and, before that, Godflesh. The songs here almost sound like a direct response to many of Conqueror’s detractors; vocals are sparse and low in the mix, songs are focused yet still have a drone-y quality, and the production, while clean, keeps things layered and heavy, without having any one element too far in front. The songwriting here is phenomenal; imagine an ideal union between the band’s crushing self-titled debut, the poppier sounds of Silver and subsequent releases, and an experimental side not yet fully explored in past works. “Lifeline” is a classic modern Jesu song, depressing in vibe yet uplifting in melodic approach, with wonderful vocals and a dreamy middle section that is superb. “You Wear Their Masks” shows the band in full shoe gaze mode, while “End Of The Road” closes things on a heavy note, with some more great singing buried beneath the huge riffs and blissful synths. But its “Storm Comin’ On”, with lead vocals by the acclaimed Jarboe, that I feel really sets this EP apart from past efforts by the band. Jarboe’s singing on this track, a mixture of ethereal beauty with tense aggression, works wonderfully with the spacey and gorgeous instrumental backdrop that Broderick provides, and makes for a listening experience you won’t soon forget.

Basically, this is the EP to get for those of you who were disappointed by Conqueror or have found your interest drifting away from this band since their new direction (or if you are simply looking for some great music). Lifeline is an exceptional release that has something for everyone and stands as yet another brilliant statement by Justin Broderick. Jesu is simply one of the best bands in the world right now, and I for one am already anticipating the next fifty releases by them that we’ll undoubtedly hear next year. Mandatory.


caspian, October 3rd, 2007

Much to the dismay of old Godflesh fans and most metalheads, Jesu has gotten progressively poppier and mellower since the inception of the band. In some cases it's worked really well- some of the stuff of Conqueror was great, and most of the Eluvium split was top notch- but at the same time, it's hard not to miss the powerful, ethereal drones of the self titled album- and the high quality of the epic, not-like-conqueror EP Sun Down/Sun Rise just reminded us how good those big guitar riffs were.

So, how does this new album compare? Is it the good but disposable shoegaze of Conqueror, the massive riffs of Heartache or the blissed out guitars of Silver? Unfortunately, it's more along the line of Conqueror's sonics, but luckily, it seems that Justin's made some adjustments to the Conqueror sound, and the end result is an album that almost makes you not miss the old Jesu style.

Indeed, everything has been given a powerful weightiness that just seemed to be missing from the last LP. Justin doesn't use his higher register vocals at all, the synths aren't all bright and happy, and I guess the whole thing just resonates with me a lot more then the last few albums have. The execution of the songs is just really good- Storm Comin' On has some really excellent synths that recall four tet, with some wonderfully ethereal vocals from that krazy girl Jarboe supplied. The use of new vocals is a great touch- a bit of new texture is always a good thing, and Jarboe's contribution give the whole song a huge amount of extra tension and purpose.

In fact, the whole album seems to have a lot of purpose and tension. I'm not really sure how to describe it, but this definitely has a much more meaningful vibe then other recent Jesu efforts. Lifeline is a really depressing beast of a song that's slow, fragile and just quite weepy all round- Justin's vocals are truly desolate here, and the shimmering synths and slow burning clean guitars make the song slit-your-wrists depressing, while 'You Wear Their Masks' is floaty, slow burning shoegaze at it's hypnotic best. Really, these songs aren't too different from those found on Conqueror, but the slightly murky production and sheer depressingness of these songs makes them so much better and much more powerful.

While I wouldn't say this is my favourite Jesu record, (It ranks fourth out of seven that I've heard) I would say that it's pretty freaking solid, and while it's mix of the atmospherics of the first full length with the sound of the second full length will probably just annoy everyone, I still think this is a pretty damn sweet record- recommended for the casual Jesu fan, and a good one to start off with maybe.