Exposure to Lifelover's initial 2005 promo recording comes in two forms: either you've downloaded it to check it out, or you purchased the limited edition Konkurs though Avantgarde which included the material, since the original cassettes must be almost impossible to locate at this time. Either way, it is important to note that this is not the same bizarre metal band who would release their debut Pulver in the following year. Sure, it's got two of the same members, ( ) and B, and it's called Lifelover (with a different logo), but this is an ambient recording using ringing and brooding guitar feedback broken up by only the occasional screamed vocal. Whether this was an intended direction for the band and they shifted to their later, melodic black/rock style, or there was some implicit duality in their goals to release both ambient and metallic works (certainly others, like Vinterriket have done such a thing), this is simply not the same Lifelover sound that would survive to transform the band into cult favorites.
The kicker is, this was actually enjoyable material, and it would have proven interesting had they pursued this course, even though we might never have been gifted with an Erotik or a Konkurs. Obviously we're reaching into an entirely different realm of experimentation, since you won't find the tinny drum machine, the swaggering, almost drunken rasping chaos of ( ), or the surge of Katatonia-styled guitars that provide the undercurrent for their modern work. Instead, the duo channels Brian Eno through two lengthy, untitled compositions in over 53 minutes. "I" is the longer of these, providing resonant walls of string feedback given both warm and eerie tones as the occasional vocal snippet plugs through, building to several crescendos in the middle and climax of the track. "II" opens with the most minimal pause on the album, but the sounds that erupt about 4-5 minutes into this are wonderfully frightening, like the blaring of horns across a mute landscape, shimmering little guitars reaching ghastly fingers of ice through the din. The end is quite warm, like an afternoon in the womb, strange sights and sounds just beyond the realm of the listener's unborn perceptions.
As a pretty huge fan of ambient and dark ambient musics, there was much on this release that appeals to me. Do I find it as distinct as their metal direction? Probably not. There were of course hundreds of artists already afield of large catalogs of such minimal background noise, and while Lifelover were completely capable of making it stick, they're not quite at the level of a Raison d'Etre or Atrium Carceri. Still, if this genre suits you, then there is no reason not to check it out, because it's further evidence of the Swedes' offbeat center, their dimension of detail, their flirtation with the obscure, wringing the cloth of quality for each longing drop.
Verdict: Win [7/10]