Lifelover - _Sjukdom_
(Prophecy Productions, 2011)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
With vocals that may sometimes remind you of the likes of Deinonychus or Bethlehem, Lifelover would seem unlikely to be interested in using mainstream melodic elements and song structures in their music. Yet for all their various shrieks, cries and other laments, that is precisely what they do.

Having been intermittently aware of Lifelover over the course of their three albums (2006's _Pulver_, 2007's _Erotik_ and 2008's _Konkurs_), I had occasionally found some interesting songs, but none of those albums managed to win me over entirely. Meanwhile, various line-up changes and two years of silence meant that their reappearance with a new album and a long-term contract with Prophecy Productions caught me by surprise. While some will probably hate _Sjukdom_ quite viscerally, others may well find a highly interesting album here -- in a totally depressive, drenched in narcotics kind of way (they do call their own music "narcotic metal" after all).

That _Sjukdom_ is Swedish for disease or sickness will start to make sense quite early on, mainly due to the rather deranged vocal style. However, as the album goes on, the apparently saccharine piano melodies that sometimes emerge, along with some sporadic samples, start to really drag you down -- while on other occasions Lifelover reveal a more straightforward and uglier metallic side. The combination of seemingly catchy melodies and riffs with this layer of, well, sickness may soon become simultaneously jarring and distinctive, but it is unlikely to leave anyone indifferent. The piano passages on "Expandera" and "Doften Av Tomhet", as well as the speech on "Totus Anctus", show just how well this mix of doom, black and more mainstream sensibilities can work.

For an album with no less than fourteen tracks and plenty of depression bordering on insanity, it would never have been easy for _Sjukdom_ to entirely avoid descending into some level of inconsistency or boredom. Their alternating of more melodic and sedate songs with more aggressive ones does work relatively smoothly and provides more variety, even though those faster songs tend to be more generic than the others. The second half of the album still turns out to be weaker than the first however, as it mostly fails to bring anything new or remarkable to the table.

_Sjukdom_ is at least sufficiently unique and interesting to deserve your attention if you like depressive music in general; and if their unusual approach happens to sit well with you, then this may well turn out to be one of the year's unlikely gems.


(article published 26/2/2011)

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