Feb 162015


In the span of only four albums and about six years of recording, the Swedish band Lifelover made a remarkable impact on the evolution of metal and on the hearts and minds of their fans. After the death of co-founder Jonas “B” Bergqvist in 2011, the remaining members laid Lifelover to rest.

Several years later, however, the survivors of Lifelover formed a new band named Kall, a band we’ve been following and covering since the first news of its existence began to circulate in the underground. Kall’s self-titled debut album (reviewed here) appeared last fall, and another song also appeared even more recently on one of the excellent Elemental Nightmares splits (reviewed here).

Recently Prophecy Productions has announced that in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Lifelover’s formation, the band will reunite (without “B” of course) to perform a special concert at Prophecy Fest this coming September. And that provided the occasion for me to conduct the following e-mail interview with Lifelover / Kall guitarist “H.” — who talks about the reunion concert, the formation of Kall, and what lies ahead.


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Nov 102013

Vanhelga are a Swedish band, the brainchild of Jacob Ottosson (aka “145188”), who until recently has been the band’s vocalist and sole instrumentalist. With Vanhelga’s most recent EP, Sommar, he is joined for the first time by Johan Gabrielson (“1853”), a former member of the late, lamented Lifelover, as a vocalist and lyricist. To be honest, that Lifelover connection was what finally drew me into Vanhelga’s music, although the band have previously released two full-length albums and five shorter works.

Although Vanhelga themselves characterize Sommar as an EP (which explains the “Short But Sweet” title of this review), it’s almost 32 minutes long and includes seven songs. Other bands have used the “full-length album” label for shorter collections of music. But whatever the right characterization, there’s no denying that Sommar is a significant achievement.

Trying to describe, much less summarize, the music is difficult. It’s an unusual combination of styles, including (but not limited to) black metal, post-rock, post-punk, and gothic. Its overall atmosphere is melancholy and at times even depressive, with textures of urban angst and desolation — and occasional eruptions of fierce anger. The mainly mid-paced song structures are relatively simple and relatively conventional, with the component parts looping back on themselves in a way that cements the infectious but tormented melodies in the listener’s mind. But that’s not to suggest that the music itself is utterly stripped down or simple, and it’s certainly not to suggest that it ever ventures into any kind of comfortable territory. Continue reading »

Nov 232011

As I write this, it’s very early on a Wednesday morning. I just finished watching Abigail Williams, Hate, Keep of Kalessin, and Mayhem at El Corazon in Seattle. All four bands were excellent. The highlights of the evening were new songs from Abigail Williams (quite different from anything I’ve heard from the band before, and I think the best work they’ve yet done) and an absolutely mind-boggling performance by Hellhammer, the drummer of Mayhem.

The third highlight of the evening was getting to spend time with Fredrik Huldtgren and his girlfriend. Fredrik is the vocalist of a Swedish band called Canopy, which has been a favorite at NCS for a long time, and he happens to be in town visiting, just in time for some truly ass-sucking Seattle weather — somewhat offset by a very badass night of metal.

Spending time with Fredrik put me in mind of three bands, all of whom I like a lot. There’s a connection between them, but rather than explain it, I’d rather let you guess, or simply wonder. The three bands are Canopy, Obitus, and Lifelover. If you don’t know the music of these bands, then there are some worthwhile discoveries for you after the jump.

With luck, I’ll wake up in a few hours and think of something more to bring your way on an NCS Wednesday. And if the site just appears to be frozen for the rest of the day, you’ll know it’s because my bed has swallowed me whole, like a python chowing down on a wayward dog. Continue reading »

Sep 122011

I’m pretty sure I first discovered Sweden’s Lifelover via a comment on this site by Johan Huldtgren (Obitus) and then through his inclusion of the band’s 2007 album Erotik on a “Best of the Decade” list he compiled and allowed us to post as a guest contrbution here. This morning, NCS writer BadWolf e-mailed me about the news that on the night of the 9th September, Jonas Bergqvist a.k.a. ‘B’, the founding member, main composer, and guitarist of Lifelover, died unexpectedly. The cause of his death is still unclear and has yet to be established.

The band’s label, Prophecy, released this statement:  “The message of Jonas’s passing came as a surprise to the Prophecy team. Hence, we lack the appropriate words for this tragic event. To us, Jonas wasn’t just a very creative artist, but also a pleasant and enthusiastic person. It is for certain that we won’t be the only ones missing his character, his passion, and his unique musical language. In the face of this tragic loss, we would very much like to extend our heartfelt condolence towards Jonas’s family, his friends, and the remaining musicians of Lifelover.”

Shit happens, musicians die, and I don’t do a very good job of noting on this site when it happens. But I’ve grown to really appreciate this band’s music, and so I thought this was worth a mention. After the jump, a few Lifelover songs, the legacy that Jonas Bergqvist has left behind. Continue reading »