September 13, 2020

Lifelover - Pulver (2006)

Country: Sweden
Language: Swedish (Svenska)
Genre: Blackgaze
Label Number: OPCD 213

© 2006 Osmose Productions
Reviewed by "James" for Metal
Lifelover are one of the most under-appreciated black metal acts today, having released three albums of their blend of goth rock and depressive black metal to a fairly neutral response. It seems the wheels are slowly starting to move for the band, however, as their 2006 debut, Pulver has just been released on the legendary Osmose records. If you've heard their last album, Konkurs you'll know what to expect here. It's all driving post-punk basslines, standard Swedish black metal riffing, and the tormented howling of frontman ( ). Pulver, however, is a leaner creature, the band being relatively free of the tinkly pianos that got a bit much on Konkurs. The stripped-down sound and garage production, coupled with the fact the band's songwriting seemed a bit looser at this point, makes Pulver a far more deranged, twisted release than later works. The band's line in coal-black humour is still present, of course, ( )'s lyrics being the same sardonic tales of sex and death they've been since. And of course the band have a nice line in samples, Pulver juxtaposing children's TV with hardcore pornography. It's not as disconcerting as the band would have wanted it to be, mind, only interlude Medicinmannen conjuring up any sort of atmosphere. And occasionally, as in the case of the cod-French music at the end of Mitt Oppna Oga, it sounds just a little silly.
Still, all these trappings count for very little, and the actual songs here are a stronger bunch than Konkurs. The band barely put a foot wrong, with Karlek- Becksvart Melankoli and Mitt Oppna Oga being highlights. The only really weak spot is Vardagsnytt, based around an odd, almost pop-punk riff that most bands would have kept for goofing off in the studio. Well, Avbrott Sex is a fairly pointless interlude, but there you go. It follows into Stockholm, which would be one of the most commercial slices of dark pop they've put to tape (there's even whistling!) if it didn't have a horrifying vocal performance from ( ), sounding as close as he ever has to slit wrists and a warm bath. The record pulls it's most surprising move right at the end, with En Sang Og Dig blending a bleak clean guitar riff with a busy, almost drum-and-bass backing beat. Although, there is a sense throughout the album of something being very wrong, songs often transitioning into wildly different sections with little rhyme or reason. Usually not a cause for celebration, but in Lifelover's case it adds to the off-kilter atmosphere present throughout.
For those disappointed with Amesoeurs' lukewarm full-length, released earlier this year to a resounding “meh”, may I suggest Pulver. It's a little (well, quite a bit) gnarlier than that band, laden with twisted vocalizations, and there's certainly less of a pop sensibility to the sound. But it's a far more interesting marriage between dark pop and black metal, and all in all it's a more satisfying record. Let's see if this gives Lifelover the success they deserve.

tags: lifelover, pulver, 2006, flac,