Halloween is a time to let loose and to become something other than yourself; to let the girls dress down and let the guys dress up. For others, it allows them to show a side to themselves they would never have before, hiding under the pretense of lies and masks. Jesu’s Justin Broadrick seems to confide in both, building a wall around him of lush, sonic waves and breaking his mold in much the same way. Whether the release date of Jesu’s Lifeline EP
(flirting dangerously close to All Hallows Eve) is an accident or not, it still looms ominously over Jesu’s trademark wall of noise. It’s not immediately apparent, the title-track a showy tack-on, picking up precisely where Conqueror
left off in a haze of sludgy drone that clouds the melody and vocals into an otherworldly abyss. It’s just another layer to Lifeline
, a thin line between taking its titles literally or not , the intro’s atmospheric dread likened to that of a downer outro. In “Lifeline,” the melancholy of Broadrick’s words are lost in a retread through Conqeuror
’s gloomier moments of controlled chaos, sparse phrases breaking through the fog (“I don’t feel anything---“). It’s not until its final minute that “Lifeline” subtly climaxes into a lighter, more spiritual segment, ending on a few clean chords.
But in a sudden tonal shift, Jesu lays the poppier sludge on thick, “You Wear Their Masks” both lighter in tone and catchier in melody. Broadrick is just as content in letting his words drown under the waterlogged production, but he at least sounds
happier with hope and longing, the tweaks and airy notes floating like bubbles to the surface. The title might explain the slight tinge of disappointment that darkens the edges to the otherwise hopeful, loving tune, but it feels more ambiguous than that. Jesu is playing to the rafters in a celebration of the melodic metal and atmosphere, the bouncing electronics of its final moments a warm passage so the lyrical centerpiece of the album. With “Storm Comin’ On,” (another title up for interpretation), Broadrick brought on Jarboe to guest. As seemingly out of place as she is, Jarboe is as good a choice as any to offset Jesu, a mesh of two extremes that proves opposites attract. There’s a prevalent force to the song (Ted Parsons’ kit retains a tempo and blast that underlines Jarboe wispy, catastrophic performance) that complements the minimalist, lovely beauty to it.
And so the album ends, wearing its contradiction proudly as a disguise. Aesthetically the most pleasant and uplifting track on Lifeline
, “End of the Road” entails a new beginning than a mere end with its more grandiose pop strings and stadium rock sensibility. It’s another landmark on the rode to continuous releases, an act of continuity that has found the band at five releases in 2007 alone. The EP might suffer from more of the same, “just another” Jesu disc for its discography, but Lifeline
just fills that space between this
release and that
one. But most of all, it finds this shoegazer lifting his eyes to show a little vulnerability, even if he's only just preparing to lift the whole mask.