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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.