With heavy use of synths that pad out the backing on every track, Lifeline sounds almost like a Cure record with Broadrick playing over it in spots. That's a good thing if you ask me, but I can see how some folks are going to hear this and think that it's a little more lightweight than expected from a guy known for bleak, menacing works of angst. Even when stacked up against other Jesu records, this one seems intentionally more accessible and maybe sentimental, but that's okay.
The truth is, all that heavy grind scream pound collapse type of material just wears on my soul anymore. I still like to get my catharsis on, but there's only so much of that I can take and maybe it's because I just don't feel the need to stick it to the world on a daily basis like I used to. I welcome the softer and more approachable stuff that Jesu is doing now because it still has enough depth to be meaningful but it's not necessarily reliant on bonding with my inner demons to be successful.
The only track here that doesn't work for me is the one where Jarboe sits in on vocals. I've never been a great fan of her work but I know that she's done some things that I like or can appreciate. Here, her voice just seems out of place and forced as it changes through three or four different vocal styles in five minutes. The approach would be fine if the execution were better, or if Jesu didn't do such a tremendous job of creating a consistent ambiance. Her voice in the middle of a Jesu record reminded me of the affect that an M. Night Shyamalan cameo tends to have in his movies—it takes me out of the experience and breaks the vibe just long enough to kill any dramatic momentum. That can be dangerous for a record that's only got four songs on it. Let's all be thankful for customizable playlists!