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Dark and sad, rocking, and catchy all at once - 93%

BlackMetal213, June 8th, 2017

Lifelover was a Swedish band that took the sounds of black metal and rock music and combine them to create a sound that really is quite unique. At the time, the band was mostly constructed of B (R.I.P.) and ( ) with 1983 providing additional vocals and lyrics. The sound was certainly centered mostly around black metal but the elements of rock music really do add a bit of a catchy aspect to the album's dark sound. More often than not, Lifelover is usually classified with the DSBM (depressive suicidal black metal) bands. With lyrical themes such as depression and drug use, this is definitely a justified comparison. Musically speaking, this album is definitely a musical representation of depression.

So, in terms of instrumentation, the album starts off in a great direction and really doesn't deviate away from high-quality songwriting. "Nackskott" is the opener and features some very bouncy, catchy riffs but when you take the agonizing vocals into consideration, this makes for a far more dissonant and depressing (yes, I'm using that word quite a bit here) tune. The vocals are very important in crafting a dark abyss of pure emotion. At times, it sounds as if these vocalists are being tortured by their own despair. "M/S Salmonella" is the following track and already, I'd say it's the album's crowning gem. It's pure gold in the form of black metal. The riffs are simplistic in nature, which is the case with this style of music, but highly effective and absolutely radioactive with emotion. Even the instrumental piece “Avbrott sex” retains this haunting, tortured style without incorporating the use of vocals. In addition, tracks such as "Kärlek - Becksvart Melankoli" incorporate pianos heavier than others but such is the case with a great deal of Lifelover tracks, the piano definitely plays a key role.

It's easy to see why this album is so highly regarded in the black metal community. Lifelover is usually associated with the DSBM bands and, lyrical content aside, they seem to be one of the more unique bands in an already amazing genre of extreme metal. This is a very short review, I'm aware, but I had to throw in my two cents where it was deemed appropriate. It's a shame that Lifelover is no more, and B was definitely a mastermind for the style.

The embodiment of depression. - 100%

Under A Funeral Moon, June 20th, 2016

Lifelover was formed in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2005 by B and () (Kim Carlsson of Hypothermia fame.) Their style is hard to place exactly. There are strong elements of black metal in their music, but also shoegaze and even alternative rock. Lyrically, these songs investigate topics such as depression, suicide, misery, and drug addiction. A lot of people seem to put them in the DSBM (depressive suicidal black metal) category, but I don’t believe they truly fit here. Generally, DSBM has more of a "white noise" type sound. By this, I mean the instruments all sort of blend together to help create this impenetrable wall of white noise, evident on releases such as Xasthur's "Telepathic With the Dead". See the track "Slaughtered Useless Beings in a Nihilistic Dream" if you want a better idea of what I'm talking about. Lifelover don't really get this sort of white noise-esque sound in their music, which is one reason why I find it hard to just call them DSBM.

This is their debut full length album, released on the Australian label Goatwarex. Lifelover’s main points for me have always been the guitars and the vocals. The vocals were done by three of the four members - (), B, and 1853, with B and () handling the instrumental side and 1853 and LR handling the lyrics. The vocals are nothing short of tortured. This band manages to convey misery and suffering better than anything I’ve ever heard, and I think that that fits perfectly with Lifelover’s music and message.

This album has some truly amazing riffs, some of my favourites being from "Nackskott" and "M/S Salmonella". The black metal influence in the guitars shines through in "Nackskott", especially with that intro riff. The guitars fit the atmosphere very well, often heavily distorted. Another great thing about Lifelover are their use of clean guitars to offset the distortion. These passages lend to the sometimes drastic atmosphere changes within the album. They also can sometimes help to set a somber tone better than the distortion could.

Overall, this album is a melancholic masterpiece. It is everything depressive music is supposed to be. It embodies depression, sadness, hatred, darkness, and misery, showing you that life is futile and not worth living.

Packet full of (dark) fun - 86%

Tomb_of_Cunt, February 26th, 2013

The very first time I heard Lifelover’s music I could sense that they are a very spontaneous band. Spontaneity is a crucial ingredient to any form of art, but it seems like Lifelover has almost perfected the spontaneous elements in their music.

The best word to describe this album would be “fun”. Lifelover is having fun, the listener is having fun and the music is constantly very basic, but still very effective. On most of the tracks there are simple guitar riffs and palm mutes which are combined with tormented voices, screaming and sarcastic lyrics. Keyboards play an imminent part throughout the whole album and it creates a very strong theatrical atmosphere. This theatrical atmosphere is filled with dark humour and depression. For example - the music on “Vardagsnytt” is quite silly (yet, still very good) and has a very sarcastic atmosphere; then follows the mysterious “Avbrott sex” which is an instrumental track that contains music with a very dark aura. “Stockholm” is also quite a depressing track filled with anguish and despair. It is clear that the band is addressing the everyday reality of life which is filled with both depressing and fun moments. They combine both of these into a very creative mix that will make fans listen to this album over and over again.

There are a lot of experimental elements thrown into the mix. On “Stockholm” one of the band members keeps whistling in the background. On some of the other tracks you can hear noises in the background that sounds like gunfire and people screaming and then there are also samples of children singing. These experimental elements combine very well with the anguished screaming of the vocalist. Overall, I think it is quite difficult to describe the genre that the band plays. On some tracks it sounds like straightforward experimental depressive rock and on other tracks it sounds like pseudo-dark ambient music. This proves that the band is constantly broadening their horizons and redefining their musical perspectives and the general aesthetical concepts that go with it.

I can’t help to listen to this album and then after a few days come back to it again. This album contains a very down-to-earth kind of atmosphere filled with dark fun.

Lifelover's first, brilliant masterpiece - 97%

Verd, June 24th, 2012

“Pulver” is the second Lifelover recording out of six. Originally released in 2006 as their first full-length, it features B playing guitars, bass and piano, ( ) providing vocals and guitars, plus 1853 performing additional vocals; everyone of them also provided speechs throughout the song, and the whole band along with LR wrote the lyrics.

"Pulver" is actually a masterpiece of innovation in the musical world, creating in my opinion a new genre, made up mainly by different kinds of vocals combining through the songs (speechs, screams, shrieks and clean vocals), brilliant melodies often played by acoustic and/or electric guitars with the help of some piano notes, and swaps from acoustic to electric music. The opener Nackskott is a clear example of Lifelover's style: a somehow happy, acoustic guitar melody takes the song into ( )'s screams, only to take back the former acoustic melody, which then fades into a heavy, electric part in which ( )'s vocals keep on changing from harsh to clean. This pattern is followed by Vardagsnytt too, an even "happier" song (there would be much to say about Lifelover's approach to life, which is evident even just by comparing the name of the band, the music, the lyrics and the band members themselves!) which features low voices along with a brilliant guitar melody, ending into a solo in the end, another time made up by five or six notes sapiently repeated.

Stockholm is even greater: an acoustic guitar melody takes the listener to the point in which the drum machine starts to accompany ( )'s awesome clean vocals, which are then substituted by a whistled melody and another acoustic part, which bursts out into a heavy electric guitar part. Lastly, I would talk about M/S Salmonella, in which the electric guitar melody is aided by few brilliant piano notes; ( )'s voice explore yet another field, with some screams closely related to black metal.

Lifelover's devotion to piano melodies is clear in songs like Medicinmannen, in which B's piano directs the whole track, accompanied by guitar melodies and a long speech in the background, or like the brilliant Kärlek - Becksvart Melankoli, opened by an awesome piano solo, then reached by a clear guitar and some catchy keyboard notes; the song actually, as always in Lifelover's masterpieces, at some point changes into a different mood: ( )'s desperate raw vocals transform the peaceful piano tune into a track devoted to suffering (note the title: Kärlek - Becksvart Melankoli, "love - pitch black melancholy"!), which then resolves itself into another two minutes of great acoustic and instrumental tunes.

Lifelover's lyrics, almost entirely in Swedish, are pure masterpieces, and they will even progress throughout the years (in "Konkurs" and "Sjukdom" they are, to me, unbelievably inspired and touching); they deal with some deep and difficult themes such as anxiety, agoraphobia, drugs, misery and urban alienation, as one can see, for instance, in Stockholm, whose lyrics are related to that argument, or in the apparently happy Vardagsnytt, which can be translated as "everyday news" and talks about Stockholm's dark, desperate side: "jag sitter här, stilla och tyst i gammal misär / solen går ner utanför mitt skitiga fönster [...] staden skall åter gå till sömn i väntan på en ny gryning, en ny dag / i väntan på det oundvikliga" - something like "here I sit, still and quiet in old misery / the sun goes down outside my dirty window [...] the town will once again fall asleep, waiting for another dawn, a new day / waiting for the unavoidable". I have found Lifelover's lyrics - in all of their albums - truely touching and emotional, and since English translations can be found everywhere I would suggest to everyone to read carefully what they are singing about. It will surely be a pleasant experience.

"Pulver" is, to me, one of the best albums of the last years, and its variety is so wide that it can not be included into one or more genres: we have black metal, acoustic piano music, clean vocals mixed up with speechs, screams and growls, electric and acoustic guitars combined and many other kinds of music which is useless to expand upon. Lifelover's genius, managed by B's insane amounts of creativity (his death in 2011 is to me one of the worst losses ever in the musical world), emerges in a pure way on "Pulver", a way which will still evolve in the next albums, gaining more "heavy" and electric sounds on "Dekadens" and "Sjukdom", or more instrumental melodies on "Erotik"; thus, "Pulver" is highly recommended to virtually anyone since its songs are one more beautiful than the other, greatly different and featuring dozens of astonishing, innovative, extremely catchy melodies.

Curiosity only injures the cat here - 72%

autothrall, September 22nd, 2010

Pulver is perhaps the most futile of albums to critique, since it's hard to believe anyone of the male (or possibly female) persuasion could tear their eyes away from its interesting cover image long enough to read something pertaining to the musical contents, but it's not as if anyone could really blame them. The cover is striking on more than just a sexual level, and I'm sure it didn't hurt the Swedes' chances with this interesting if flawed proposition of hybrid sounds. Basically, Lifelover mix the driving, desperate melodic doom of a Katatonia with tortured, wandering vocals courtesy of the enigmatic ( ) (see also Hypothermia) that best represent the depressive black metal schemata, and through this they drive the stakes of earthy folk and rock influences, with some even more interesting curve balls in store for those willing to delve deep inside its unusual depths.

Pulver opens with two of its strongest songs, so the attraction is very quickly felt for what the band is attempting to create on their debut. "Nackskott" favors a meandering, surf/folk guitar line above which ( ) introduces you to his surly and characteristic pain, scraping a number of registers until the intense bridge of the track which most closely resembles black metal. The track ends with a sample of what I'd assume to be a child's TV theme or folk song in Swedish, creating this unusual disparity. Following is "MS Salmonella" with its driving melodic doom chords and piano overlays (a trick this band will consistently manifest on later work like the strikingly similar "Shallow" from the excellent third album Konkurs). One doesn't really expect the gunshot and screaming samples to erupt into a Celtic Frost groove, but there it is, and thus closes the most consistently impressive chapter of this record.

Apart from these, I was greatly enamored of "Söndag", deeper into the track list, a circular melodic doom track which channels a simplistic Paradise Lost pattern of chords into blissful hopelessness, ( ) careening over its wide channels of sorrow like a galleon of distorted emotions. The lush piano intro to "Kärlek - Becksvart Melankoli" is waylaid by another driving sequence of cleaner guitars, nearly silent programmed drumming and extremely angst-ridden vocals, but it at least offers a few moments of potential. There are also a pair of intriguing interludes found in the roiling, evil noise swells of "Medicamannen" which are offset by the folk and conversational samples, and the turbulent funeral ambient tones of "Avbrott Sex", a melancholic piano striking out across them as if you weren't already creeped out enough. "Stockholm" is another track to use the surf-like, bouncing folk guitars and some delicious, subversive bass, so add this one in the plus category, and the acoustic/piano fusion of "Herrens Hand" is soothing and strange with its samples.

Sadly, the remainder of the effort is not so compelling. "Mitt Öppna Öga" starts off with a decent melodic thrust, but once the sex samples arrive the track has already played out its interesting nature and becomes sour. "Vardagsnytt" bounces along with some of the sillier vocals on the record, but the chord pattern below is bare of any essential atmosphere or patterns. "Nästa Gryning" goes for a dreamy sequence, the vocals ringing out distantly across Romantic parlor tricks in the clean chord selection, but ultimately fails to thrill me despite the 6:25 minutes it spends trying, and the closer "En Sång Om Dig" is a slovenly wreck that might have just been clipped from the recordings and none would be at any loss whatsoever. Other complaints I've heard are with the production, but I must disagree there. The tinny silence of the drum beats is a delightful counterbalance for the thicker broth of emotional range created through the vocals and dirty guitar tones, and the lo-fi quality is welcome as it is with many more traditional black metal acts.

Pulver was a unique experience for its day, but one that Lifelover has consistently trumped with the rest of their output. Considering the experimental attitude of the band, it surprises me just how much of this debut I do hear in the later Konkurs. Then again, the band were on a spree of one album per year so the smaller, natural evolutionary steps make sense, and the wealth of this style had yet to be shaken from their collective systems. I truly enjoy 2-3 of these songs, namely "Nackskott" and "Söndag", and they are not without interesting companions here, but enough of the material drags its feet on the bottom that the album has difficulty finding a smooth current to sail. It's an intriguing vessel to visit, but I rarely feel the urge to stay aboard for long.


Pointless release - 35%

DeadRat, June 12th, 2007

I looked for this album for a long time after reading and hearing all the hype around this band. Also judging from the high scores "Pulver" got here on Metal Archives, I thought I would be facing a masterpiece of originality.

Was I wrong...

This was supposed to be some great mix between black metal and pop music, and all I got to listen to was some uninteresting gothlike metal with weird vocals. And this is the main problem I have with Lifelover, all their ideas have already been done in a much better way by other bands. And this impression keeps building up throughout the entire album.

Although the guitars remain slightly noisy in a black metal way, and the vocals are weird and wacky, you don't get much more black metal aspects. The songs are limited in too simple structures. This is usually the trademark of pop music, but where a band like Joy Division (cited by the band as an influence) manage to create great songs, Lifelover simply can not avoid being boring by repeating the same idea over and over again.

So yes, there is some nice piano melody from time to time, even a couple of good pop guitar melodies, but sadly that’s mostly it. The drums are generic at best and don’t bring anything worth mentioning. Same thing about the samples, they could bring an extra dimension to the songs but instead they get quite annoying, like in M/S Salmonella when the sample literally cuts the song in half for no particular reason.

Anyway, Pulver is ok if you are looking for a gift for your (not too picky) metal loving girlfriend or if you just want some not complicated background music, but if you want a more mature black/pop band, I would suggest you look for some Joyless albums or even some real pop music.

Suicide-inducing perfection - 100%

GoatDoomOcculta, March 11th, 2007

As one can expect (at least I did), a metal band called "Lifelover" is either going to be either typical metalcore faggotry, phenomenally shitty pseudo-progressive music, or a truly amazing piece of work the likes of which has rarely (read: never) been heard before. Quite fortunately, the lattermost possibility is indeed a reality, and frontman Kim Carlsson (now known as ( )) has created something truly revolutionary with Lifelover, and oh-so-very twisted in a wonderful way.

Let me begin by saying that Pulver is by no means a typical metal (or any sort of music) album in any sense of the word. Everything from the vocals, to the inserted-sound clips, to the way everything is played, positively screams "unique", and is nothing remotely like anything I've ever heard before, although there are some similarities between this and Woods Of Infinity, but that certainly is not a bad thing.

Right from the beginning of the first track "Nackskott" (Neckshot), the listener knows that they're in for something new. The production quality, while not crystal clear, is nowhere near raw enough to take away from the experience, but not high-end enough to be obnoxious (late Emperor), and an ideal middle ground is established which is consistent throughout the album.

The vocals are the highlight of the CD, ranging from hysterial screams of maniacal hatred, to twisted mutterings and ravings, to clean spoken venomous verses, and all in all, conveying a beautiful sense of pure, unadulterated loathing for mankind, and an absolute crushing sense of despair to the listener. There really is no way to classify any of the vocals (i.e. death grunts/growls, black metal screeches, etc.), but they cover everything under the sun, and then take it to a previously unheard of extreme. Complementing the vocals and adding wonderfully to the overall insanity of the album are occasional sound clips from Swedish children's TV shows, urban warfare, disturbing sound effects, typical Italian accordian music, and even some porn. Surprisingly, none of it feels thrown in simply for the sake of "originality", but genuinely adds to the music and the twisted, sickening feeling one gets from listening to this.

The guitars are also widely undefinable, but for the most part are clean and generally acoustic, although at times, they dirge wonderfully and are suitably distorted to fit the music. There are moments where they sound like a sort of demented complement to something you would hear in a rather upbeat 90s pop song, but with the insane shrieking vocals and the dismal tone of the music as a whole, this just serves to further creep you the fuck out on your first few listens. Think late-Sentenced meets Celldweller, sort of. There are plenty of drums on Pulver as well, but nothing like one would expect on a metal album. As another reviewer very-fittingly put it "you won’t find raging blastbeats here, but then Lifelover are not about mindless brutality." The way that the occasional piano solo (...) is incorporated as well really adds to the overall depressive nature of the CD, and as with the rest of the nonconventional elements, does not feel thrown in or gimmicky in the slightest.

While I would by no means label Lifelover as "black metal" (and that comprises about 90% of what I listen to), there really is no fitting subgenre for this. It breaks all the rules, and does it wonderfully. Pulver is without a doubt the best album of 2006, and definitely a CD to be remembered. I absolutely cannot recommend this album enough, and it is an objective, universal truth that no one should not hear this album.

Near Perfection - 98%

Groops, February 7th, 2007

“Pulver” is one of those releases that creates an instantly lasting impression. Upon playing this for the first time I found this release totally mesmerising, it has been an album I have come back to time & time again. I would describe the sound as a combination of Cold Melancholic Rock & Suicidal Black Metal. Maybe how Bethlehem & Joy Division would sound doing a collaborative Katatonia cover. Remarkably strange & subtly twisted, rather than all out obvious weirdness.

As you give this more listens it becomes more apparent just how disturbing & truly sick this album is. The samples used make “Pulver” all the more uncomfortable & include Swedish Children’s television samples, porn, fairground type music, the sounds of a Child’s musical toys & spoken word. When bands delve into both the realms of Childhood & pervesity, there is just no way of avoiding the inevitable discomfort when listening. Lifelover pull this off to perfection & so the atmosphere is not only squalid but entrancing. There is also a sense of dark humour that is shadowing this release. Even looking at the first point of contact with the band; the name Lifelover, there is a sense of sarcasm. It is more than ironic when considering what sort of band this is (ie. a fucked up misanthropic freak of a band!!).

When I first heard Lifelover, the first opinion I had was that this is a truly unique band. At this time I had not heard Woods of Infinity. When playing “Ljuset” by Woods of Infinity I found the similarity between these two bands to be striking, even down to the type of samples used. It is slightly disappointing that Lifelover are not an originator of this sound, but still, “Pulver” is an instant classic & deserves this status within Underground Metal’s hall of fame.

The overall delivery of the music is expressive & richly textured, with a fairly low production. Harsh & hysterically screamed vocals are combined with, muttering, musings, whispers, angry retorts, & calm, cold singing. The guitar parts are mainly acoustic, & remain clean throughout. At times, the guitar melodies could be described as Pop, which when described in words sounds terrible but sounds shockingly good. The tracks are not generally super heavy or bassy but carry a heavy atmosphere that suggests the soul being stripped bare. The drumming is mid-tempo & features a use of cymbals which is complimentary to the sound. You won’t find raging blastbeats here, but then Lifelover are not about mindless brutality. There is also the addition of a piano to many tracks which add another layer of melancholy to this psychologically complex creation. The general approach has an dirty Urban feel to it & brings to mind all the darkness, chaos, confusion & perversity found in modern life.

Lifelover are honest, refreshing & mentally stimlating. I generally follow “True” Black Metal & can’t get enough of this album. Lifelover are not strictly Black Metal (nor have the band claimed to be any genre in particular), but they wrote one of the most promising debut albums of 2006! This is no time to worry about petty politics, just fucking get a copy!

Pulverising. - 85%

Perplexed_Sjel, January 21st, 2007

"Until the day you die, you will always be ... SHIT" The final words of this amazing and unique album. Lifelover, whose name seems like a total contradiction to me, are a Depressive Rock band from Sweden. "Pulver" is the debut album which was released a year after forming through GoatowaRex.

This band are truly unique in every sense of the word. The vocals are somewhat Black Metal influenced, distorted screams which convey a total hatred towards society and life in general. But the music, as a whole, is a new concept to me. Although it takes elements of genres such as Black Metal, this is in no way a Black Metal album. The riffs are extremely catchy and sometimes reminiscent of some form of Indie/Pop music, but don't let that warn you off. At times, the guitar tones can be clear and then at other points they can be highly distorted to create the depressive atmosphere the band is trying to generate. The guitars play a very important role in setting this album apart from anything else you'll ever hear, as well as the vocals. You have your standard tremolo picking, reminiscent of Black Metal bands, but you also have your deviation from the norm. The drums and bass aren't especially important, although they do increase the atmosphere nature of the music. The addition of melancholic piano sections are crucial in setting the atmosphere and enhancing the overall depressive feel the music can convey. Although the music can have that sombre and downbeat sound to it, the catchy riffs have the ability of making this a far more enjoyable listen in terms of the emotive side the music generates for the listener. The production does allow the listener to focus of every instrument and the part it plays however, it can be rather hazy at times, but this is not a turn off whatsoever. The fact that it's not as polished as people may like, may deter people, but you have to keep the fact that this is a debut album in mind.

The most notable highlight for me is En Sång Om Dig.

Apathy, crunchy guitars and narcotic misery... - 90%

ODIR, January 7th, 2007

First of all, this record almost deserves a 100 just for creating something out of the ordinary. This record may, as a result of this, not appeal to the average black metal fanatic expecting another "Panzerfaust" version 20001. Consequently, I am unsure wether this should be labeled black metal at all, as it draws influences from several different genres. The black metal influence is, in my opinion, more present in the mood, lyrics, atmosphere and attitude than in the actual riffing and song structuring. As for describing the music, it sounds a bit like The Cure meets Ved Buens Ende and Woods of Infinity with a touch of indie pop (Swedish Kent comes to mind, to be honest).

The album starts off with one of the better songs on the record; "Nackskott", telling quite an abstract story of alienation, disgust towards modern society's reigning norms, and finally, blowing "innocent" people to their doom. The guitar sound is crunchy and catchy, maintaining a 60's rock vibe. This guitar tone is present in most songs on the album, sometimes layered with rather heavy fuzz. The bass and drums (drum machine) doesn't hold a special place on the album, and neither do they really need to. This is, as you probably understand, all about the expression and the atmosphere, not musical show-offs. In other words, there are no shred solos or Dream Theater type riffing present at all.

As the album continues the songs - in my experience - gets more and more melancholic and, lyrically misanthropic (of course this is difficult to see without speaking Swedish). Songs such as Söndag and Vardagsnytt describes gloomy feelings of suburban desolation, while Herrens Hand (containing my favorite lyrics) details suicidal, almost schizophrenic thoughts about a depression with no exit in sight, and its grim consequence. M/S Salmonella has the trademark black metal tremolo picking, accompanied by a sombre piano passage that blends in perfectly with the music.

What essentially makes this album so interesting is the blend of metal, rock and sheer narcotic madness. You clearly don't need to play Norwegian style 90's black metal to express the feelings present on this album.

As for negative remarks... Well, this is a debut album, and you can hear it. The sound quality is not very bad, it works fine, but there's no doubt it'd sound much better with a more polished sound, as the music itself is not of the kind that "benefits" from lesser quality. There are also two "interludes", namely Avbrott Sex and Medicinmannen, which I honestly can't grasp or understand the point of. And there are some scattered samples throughout the records which at times seem irrelevant to the lyrics of the song (except for the sample on Herrens Hand, which is quite fitting).

These issues are minor though, and makes me wonder just how potentially great the sophomore album can be (for those wondering, THR will be responsible for the next release).

The few points stated above takes away the solid 100% score, but originality in these days of copycat black metal bands and the metalcore plague evidently pays off, and this is, in my eyes, one of the top releases of 2006.