Lifvsleda – Sepulkral Dedikation Review

What is the essence of “purity”? Because, really, very few things are as “pure” as we would like (or suppose) them to be. Not the water you drink. Not the air you breathe. Not the hobo wine in the AMG canteen.1 And certainly, not the line your pal Tony snorted off that toilet in that club one time. So, when bands claim to play “pure” anything, I wonder what they mean. Livfsleda, an anonymous black metal band from Sweden, proposes that they play black metal in its “purest form.” So when I pulled sophomore album, Sepulkral Dedikation from the sump, I was immediately struck by the band’s aversion to C’s, but their tolerance of U’s. This had me intrigued. Was I going to get Venom and Bathory? Or the second wave (Emperor, Mayhem, Darkthrone)? Livsleda’s first album, Det Besegrade Lifvet, flew under my radar, so I had few expectations going in.

What becomes immediately apparent on early listens is that all the talk of “pure black metal” is PR guff. This is meat ‘n’ taters black metal with a strong commitment to the early 90s but with a heavy emphasis on melody rather than misanthropy. There is black ‘n’ roll, post-black… hell, there’s even drone. This is a mish-mash if ever there was one, which is totally fine, but the band’s unwillingness to acknowledge it as such is at the core of why, fundamentally, it doesn’t quite click.

Livsleda’s anonymity may suit the band members, but it rubs off on the music. The major issue here is a distinct lack of personality that pervades the material. It’s all very solid, enjoyable stuff, but none of the songs really pop in that way that great metal does when it burrows inside your skull. Sepulkral Dedikation can’t decide if it wants to be mean, or melodic, or grimy, or accessible. Which means it winds up being none of them. The melodic tracks (“Hädenkallad,” “Kallet,”) sometimes lack bite because there isn’t enough bite to the music that backs them. Conversely, the furious stuff occasionally gets lost in drone, and fades away into the background. The result is that I enjoyed listening to Sepulkral Dedication in the background while finishing up a paper, but it rarely wrestled my full attention away from my work. Part of the issue is the production, which is so dense and smooth that everything becomes an amorphous blob in parts, slinking like oil in the tub, rather than nails into the skin. While the master here isn’t lo-fi, it’s dark and messy, which drains the personality from the tracks. While I understand that the idea was to make it semi lo-fi and kvlt, this doesn’t work when melody is the band’s greatest strength. The tracks here are dying to breathe, but the suffocating mix simply won’t let them, which is another reason they refuse to stand out.

It sounds like I’ve been very harsh on Livsleda, but there is a lot to enjoy on Sepulkral Dedication. The band members may be anonymous, but I’ll bet my meager AMG salary that they aren’t n00bies. They know their way around a blast-beat and a tremolo riff, and there’s a restless energy that pervades the best parts of the album (The guitar work is often excellent, with tremolos flying at a furious rate, particularly on opener “Sänderbudet”). When the focus is on melody and drone, rather than on being “pure,” the album shines and is very enjoyable, if unremarkable.

Perhaps that’s the takeaway here. There were very few times I found what I was listening to unpleasant. Conversely, very little quickened my pulse. The material here is solid but unspectacular and functions very nicely as enjoyable background noise. I suspect Livsleda will feel damned by faint praise, but they’re not too far off. LP3 needs more of a personality, a better mix, and a clearer sense of identity. Until then, this “pure” black metal will only function as a stop-gap in the playlists of most black metal fans.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: NoEvDia
Website:  |
Releases Worldwide: April 1st, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. That’s 100% pure antifreeze. – Steel
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