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Soundtrack to a sleeping city - 88%

GuardAwakening, November 11th, 2013

Lifelover's notorious hybridizing of black metal with alternative rock genres gained the Stockholm-based group a huge following since their 2006 record label debut Pulver, here we see that same band evolving even further, carrying different sounds along the way. With black metal as their main influence, the band bring along crates full of other genres. Doom metal, dark ambient, post-punk and progressive rock are prevalent as well. Morbid screaming backed by furious guitars on one song can lead to a calming rock riff complimented by piano pieces and speech vocals. Or they may even throw in a song that's made up by nothing but electronics. Some of these elements can even be placed in one whole track altogether, almost as if Lifelover doesn't know what band they even want to be.

Not implying what was said above is a negative trait this album or the band in all hold, in fact the inconsistency was always the lively point for every album Lifelover would jolt out next in the studio. Tortured frontman Kim Carlsson, who is also known for his work in the ambient black metal trio Hypothermia, alternates his lyrics between his Swedish native tongue and English while screaming about agonizing depression, drug abuse, failed romance, hostility or dark sarcasm/humour. The band are obviously serious, but never take themselves too seriously, which can be noted in their extensive use of unfitting sound samples from slapstick films, children singing or Swedish documentaries. It definitely is as ridiculous as it sounds, but that's the beauty of it. Lifelover tend to take their foreign traits as far as a European country can make themselves, keeping to that most of their lyrics, album titles or song titles are not even in English. Albeit that their apparent far-fetched mannerisms also backup this same theory. It's almost as if the band make their Swedish peers (the likes of Opeth, Bloodbath, Dark Throne, In Flames and Arch Enemy just to name a few) seem very American by comparison.

B.'s innovative guitar playing shines whether it be he wants it to be balls-out brutal, melodic beauty or playing simple chords whilst H. takes the backdrop of things with his rhythm lines. Unfortunately bass playing is only barely audible, which tends to be a normal thing in depressive rock or DSBM (some DSBM bands don't even employ a bass player at all), why this is, I don't know. Although the bass lines seem to be fairly heavy on the track "Museum of Past Affections", I prefer any music I'm listening to employ heavier bass no matter what the genre is due to my ears being lent to a broader and larger soundscape than the thin lead lines that the artist has wrote and recorded. Ahh well, we can't always get what we want. Erotik is an amazing record, definitely needs to be peeped out by well... shit... pretty much anyone I guess that enjoys alternative rock or extreme metal. The band inerbreeds the two genres so much to the point where the record can easily be recommended by any fan of the two.

Review's favorite cuts: "Sweet Illness of Mine", "En man i sina sämsta år", "Besatt", "Höstdepressioner" and "Museum of Past Affections"

Seas of cold light kiss and cut at the nightline - 80%

autothrall, September 22nd, 2010

Whether one loved or hated this Swedish band's bleeding or bloodied girl debut, there was not really a question as to whether Lifelover were bringing something new to the table. Various traces of outside sources certainly make their way under the compositional eaves, as they do with any new artist or collaboration, but the whole was endearing enough to admit the band were onto something, which would draw divisive lines between the hipster attuned and grim cybernauts of the necrocosm. Just what the fuck was this band doing? Clearly this was not your pastor's feared black metal, so one could only ride the vapors of their fusion or rally against any and all change they might offer the jaded, stagnant genre they originated from.

Erotik is neither brilliant nor vomit inducing, but in my opinion the slight improvements to their core aesthetic formulate a slightly superior entity to the debut Pulver. This is still the same jangled mass of melancholy, samples, doom and depressive rock integrated with the compulsive and raw repetition of melodic black metal guitars, all set against a darkening journey down a fat hole, with a drum machine as your pilot. However, where Erotik succeeds over its older sister is in the ability to haunt the listener, for this might just remain the most frighteningly intense of Lifelover's offerings, even though it tidies up rather nicely in the production department. The pianos and guitars were a step up from Pulver, and ( ) ventured into a grimmer territory here as evidenced in particular tracks like "En Man I Sina Sämsta År".

That song is actually an excellent place to start poring over the stubborn delights of this album, because the wailing melodies that open it burn themselves directly into the conscience, soon parted for sympathetic pianos and thick, oozing bass and chords. The vocals here are nearly death metal gutturals, and the result is a glorious, charging testament to depression rather than some subtle sacrifice upon the altar of lamentation. Other tracks like "Dödens Landsväg", "Sweet Illness of Mine", "I Love (To Hurt) You" and the soaring "Välkommen Till Pulvercity" all capture a similar imagination, as if all the negative emotions of regret that haunted the Swedish urban nights this album was recorded were to accumulate into a vortex of saddening majesty and then rape your earlobes. Not all the chord patterns here are immaculate, but they do the trick, and it would be difficult to ignore the raw, blissful energy.

Of course, it would not be Lifelover without some measure of diversity, and this is felt in most of the neighborly tracks to those I've already swept across with broad strokes. "Saltvatten (Du + Jag VS. Tellus)" makes use of sparse, clean guitars as it breeds the pangs of sharp despair like a blade carefully caressing a wrist, unsure of whether or not to make that final plunge into the blood line, severing the right and will to live. "Besatt" also uses the clean, ringing tones as it shuffles forward like some hybrid of shoegazing rock and celebratory, warm folk, and then the following "Höstdepressioner" continues the mood, adding more glorious melodies (a little dash of The Cure there in the background, behind the samples). I did draw the impression that perhaps there were too many clean guitars in a row, but then, this is a band that could likely create an entire album around such pieces with success.

"Humörets Bottenvåning" makes for a fine interlude, a quaint trip hop beat pumping below some tasteful pianos and electronic swells, but it should have been the outro, because the two tracks that conclude the album are probably the weakest. "Museum of Past Affections" looked good on paper, and the cleaner vocals are interesting, but the riffs tend to grow tiring after merely a few repetitions, the glorious pattern implied just not all that impressive next to the earlier ragers here. After this, the 11 minute "Nitlott" spends about half its course in rustic folk, then shifting into more of the band's ringing little guitar melodies, and finally a warped approximation of black/doom with samples and reversed vocals. Strange enough to fit the band? Sure, but not that interesting of its own accord.

Unlike the debut Pulver, I will admit that this sophomore has only grown on me in the few years since its release. My preference remains for Konkurs, the third full-length, which I still find to be the greatest balance of beauty and misery that this band has yet crafted, but surely the ground work had been well laid here in Erotik's back alleys and rusted public works. This album might not have a beautiful blond in her bloody birthday suit embracing a rocky, lichen-crusted surface, but its evening cityscape is well suited to the musical content, a festival of lights that hover at the edge of total, bleak annihilation, a surge of desperation that the heart might have emptied, but the blood still burns for tomorrow.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Let's all fucking kill ourselves shall we? - 94%

Sigillum_Dei_Ameth, March 21st, 2008

Lifelover is a newcomer to the Black metal scene, particulary the Depressive/Suicidal end of the spectrum. Yes, we all know what lies in those botomless depths of darkness...misery, confusion, loneliness, a sense of divine treason, alcohol and drug abuse, the downward spiral of the human mind and soul, etc. All the stuff that really plagues the hearts of men who live in a homogenized 21rst century of digital activity searching for what made them appreciate the sunshine-filled days of childhood are now replaced by homes that bring no comfort, and material possessions that seem to be trophies of your income. And a concoction of antidepressants, sleeping pills, mood stabalizers, tranquilizers, antipsychotics, etc. all used to keep the wild hearts of men tame and sedated but only in the end adding to the ever escalating depression that comes with the territory. Lifelover really LOVES what life has to offer as we age.

But admist this madness, we find some whom are able to turn this illness into art. 9 times out of 10 it's the only true artform left amongst those who are using it for bullshit rockstar dreams of fame and money and to make 14 year old girls wet their panties with glee. Lifelover being one of these artists managed to surpass the traditional Suicidal/Depressive Black Metal into more of a Black Metal that is true to it's punk roots while adding in styles of death rock, atmosphereic pianos, and even some pop-worthy hooks to create a general mentally fucked mindset.

Vocally..all members contribute to the variety but mainly ( )......yes his artistic name is parenthesis marks....alternates from a somber, melancholic sad sack of shit wanting to off himself to traditional 80's Goth Rock deep monotone speaking to some really disturbing howls. There are even some decent growls here and there. Guitars are nowhere fast. The only speed you might find is on tracks "En Man I Sina Samsta Ar", "Valkommen Till Pulvercity" which resembles something that Ministry might write minus the volume and industrial noise. Instead you'll find some really nice soft keyboard parts to enhance the moodiness this band projects. Otherwise it's fucking good. Some songs are more shoegaze, some even folk rock. "Humörets Bottenvåning" starts off with a beautiful keyboard piece and then goes into some weird electronic beat/trance-induced dark ambience. Truly a wonderful track and is perfect for walking the cold freezing city streets during the winter trying to make sense of why everyone else is so happy during the holiday seasons. One can imagine a bunch of college kids staying inside their dormrooms for days on end and wanting to let their wrists open, this would would be their soundtrack as they stare motionless at all the happy people outside enjoying their pre-ordained heaven-filled lives in the sunlight. The last track "Nitlott" seems to be a ray of hope that through the days of rain, of everlasting darkness, and a hope that spring might come along and turn everything green...or maybe it's March madness, but who the fuck cares at this point, because we just walked through some pretty depressing shit.

I do not consider this typical Black Metal, but still I hold this in high regards as one of the better albums to comes out within the past few years amongst the satanic drivel. A change of pace and something new brought to the table. Pick this up if you are wanting to look into the minds of the damned and freezing.

Loves To Hurt Me. - 60%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 7th, 2007

That was quick. Lifelover unleashed 'Erotik' less than a year after they sent their pulverising debut out across the world. I had some fears before I first listened to this full-length. Simply because Lifelover managed to pull this out of the bag a few months after the first record was released. I thought that perhaps 'Erotik' was too fast, too soon for the public. Considering the fact that this bands status was rising with each and every day that passed between the full-lengths, the vast majority of people probably welcomed this record with open arms and a tear of joy. Due to the fact that it came out so quickly after the first one, I had expected a lot of experimentation by Lifelover, but that's not really what I received upon listening to this.


'Erotik' is a 'more of the same' full-length. It serves to build upon the bands growing reputation amongst fans of underground music. It's fairly similar to 'Pulver' in some ways. The sound of Lifelover's music has really developed much, but considering I loved the first record, maybe that's not such a bad thing after all. Though whenever you have expectations of something and it doesn't turn out anything like you had initially expected, you cannot help but feel somewhat disappointed and that's my overall impression of 'Erotik' ... Disappointed. There has been some minor development by Lifelover, but that comes in the form of the vocals. I didn't really think they needed to be messed around with anyway, they were perfect for the scene Lifelover was setting. At times the clean vocals can sound somewhat poor and out of place. They aren't to my liking and take away from the depressive nature of the music, despite the fact that they sound rather sorrowful.


'Erotik' marks an era where clean vocals play much more of a part for Lifelover. Although I don't necessarily think they should have been included as much as they have been, they're good. They show a new side to Lifelover, making sure fans know they aren't restricted to one style. They do that amply. The overall sound of Lifelover is much the same as before. Perhaps expecting a fair amount of experimentation in sound was my fault. The guitars still have that same buzzing tone that creates affective melodies that swirl around in the atmosphere of 'Erotik'. The guitars are the saving grace for Lifelover in this instance, as per usual they set down wondrous melodies at times. However, on occasions they can go missing. The riffs become quite subdued and repetitive that you can forget that they are even there. As well as this, the percussion side of things tends to take over. This percussion sounds far louder than the guitars, which is usually unbearable, but Lifelover's tendency to vary their sound saves this element from becoming a problem.


In conclusion, 'Erotik' is merely stuck in the shadows of the debut full-length. It never really gets going and sets a slow pace to Lifelover's development as a leading band of it's genre.

Interesting mix of BM and clean melodic rock / pop - 80%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 24th, 2007

Hmm, it's an interesting formula that this band has used: the harsh noisy guitar textures and occasional raspy vocals of BM, a melodic rock / pop structured approach, some plaintive piano melodies, maybe some recordings of classical music, clean deep and sombre vocals reminiscent of Andrew Eldritch of the UK goth band Sisters of Mercy, and spoken word passages combined to produce a kind of post-rock / slight shoegazer music describing the bleakness, cruelty and loneliness of modern urban life and landscapes. "Erotik" features 12 songs most of which boast very strong and hummable melodies and rhythms with a tension arising from putting together the beautiful and simple pure piano tones and other clean and melodic elements with the rough BM guitar showers. I'm not convinced though that Lifelover have quite got the balance right for a music that portrays how hard and lonely city life can be: the harsher, bleaker elements are too much in the background in many songs and the production throughout the recording is clean when perhaps it should be clean in some songs and blurry and atmospheric in others. The music also moves pretty fast and this tends to make the piano and other non-BM elements a bit bright and perky. Even songs that are meant to be melancholy ("Hostdepressioner" to take one example) are fairly brisk and don't convey the sense of sadness very well.

The BM elements in many songs are limited to light showers of noise guitar and only one song "I Love (To Hurt You)" - lovely song title, that - features harsh distorted singing. It's left to the final track "Nitlott" to really bare Lifelover's powerful BM fangs which is a pity - why don't they show this terror earlier in the album and throughout it as well? Makes you wonder.

The mixed singing styles which include spoken word are an interesting touch. Lifelover could make the mixed singing a central part of their style. The clean singing and the spoken word usually alternate so only one style dominates each song but it would be more interesting to have both or several styles of singing on the one song, this would elevate and bring out the tension in the textures of the music more. We'll have to wait for a follow-up album to see if they can do this.

All the songs, especially the songs in the first half of the album, are very memorable and could be potential singles should Lifelover pitch this album to a more mainstream / commercial music market. (This might mean ditching "Nitlott".) Tracks like "Sweet Illness of Mine" and "Dodens Landsvag" which feature those Sisters of Mercy-styled vocals have strong catchy riffs and rhythms, and are tight and self-contained: just right for singles material. Another good track is "Besatt" which has a strong bluesy guitar sound which Lifelover could have used more on the album.

Overall the music is very good if rather slanted too much towards the clean, melodic and not-very-atmospheric side of things and needing a more varied and at times more muddied production. Lifelover could have drawn more on their BM background to achieve a really dark gritty urban feel and create some very desolate urban yet still melodic dark art.The band has a lot of potential to be an original BM crossover band and should not have to compromise its vision too much for the sake of satisfying record label bean counters.

The madness continues... - 95%

ODIR, February 28th, 2007

It has been one year since I first heard the debut Lifelover album, "Pulver", and it feels like the one year wait for a follow up has been way too long. Will someone hand this band a fucking achievement award for creativity and originality? Sure it sounds, like I've mentioned in my review for Pulver, like the Cure, Broder Daniel, and Kent mixed with Woods of Infinity and Ved Buens Ende, but that mix shouldn't sound too familiar to anyone.

With Erotik, Lifelover has seemingly aimed to perfect the soundscape created on the debut without changing direction musically (or lyrically), but instead evolving their twisted idea into something even more sinister.

Onto the music itself... The production has been greatly improved, and the leads are all as clear as they should be. The melancholic piano passages are not only present, but used more often than on the debut, which I think is great as it adds even more character and atmosphere to the songs. The drumming isn't too good. Probably because I generally dislike drum machines, and know little to nothing about drumming, and I'll leave it at that. On Erotik, catchy lead guitar riffs is much more utilized than on Pulver, and they're quite good and makes the song structures more interesting (a few songs on the debut got a bit repetitive).

Now on to the biggest surprise of Erotik. Hold your breath until you die; there's lots of clean vocals (as well as some "speeches"). At first, I was very, very skeptic at the thought of hearing these guys had used clean vocals, and to be entirely honest, on the first listen it struck me as pretty weird. After just a few spins though, the songs grew on me. The singing is not beautiful, just as it shouldn't be! It's all about the mood, and the darkness reflected through the music and lyrics. Even though there's undoubtedly humor present on lots of songs on Erotik, it's not the (in my opinion) "comedy" type of humor, but rather the mocking of life, society and all that is considered politically correct. To me, the narcotic, depressive darkness presented on Erotik is way more palpable than on most raw black metal albums I've heard recently. They just do it without screaming "satan!" fifty three times per song, using socio- and psychological themes instead.

As for the lyrics, they are great. Here's another surprise, there are a few lyrics written in English, which I presume will make some non Swedes happy. There's not much to say, the themes are similar to those on the debut. My personal favorites among the lyrics are "Besatt" (translation: Possessed) and Nitlott (no idea how to translate).

Standout songs: They're all very good, but my favorite will have to be the amazing "Museum of Past Affections".

In conclusion, I guess this will be the best release of 2007 unless maybe Deathspell Omega releases something new. Maybe.