LIFESICK – Love And Other Lies EP

Danish band Lifesick mightn’t have reached a household name status by the beginning of 2024, but they’d definitely marked out a place as one of the cult acts within the European underground. Four releases into their career, they’d already become somewhat of a fixture on the Scandinavian festival circuit, had associations with the legendary Southern Lord label (sometime home of Boris, Goatsnake, Mondo Generator and others), and already shown a great gift for brutalist hardcore riffs.

Their ‘Love and Other Lies’ EP features just three tracks, but what it lacks in duration it more than makes up for with sheer durability. Taking the band’s previous hardcore stance and cranking the tension even more, the short set’s highlight ‘Reverse Birth’ opens with a burst of harmonic feedback, before literally exploding into a sledgehammer sized riff where extreme metal edges influence a taut hardcore punk riff. Dropping into something even heavier, the sound of a slow, oppressive guitar and rattling bass colours the hardcore further, before the entire band – along with help from hardcore legends Nails – attack the listener with a full on round of riffs that sound like a perfect blend of Nails’ brutality and Brutality Will Prevail’s grinding, metallic force. This, in terms of crossover hardcore, would be enough to sustain a great track, but the musicians are simply too adventurous to take the easiest route. The speed driven elements are eventually contrasted in the number’s second half, when everyone explores a genuinely frightening hardcore/sludge hybrid, where truly intense basslines underscore a wall of distortion. In terms of pure force, you’d be hard pressed to find anything bigger, genre wise. This is the sound of a band aiming to crush anyone who’ll stand in their way; the sound of a hardcore act that’ll potentially wipe the floor with anyone higher up any future bills on the live circuit. Lifesick have never done anything half heartedly, but this track really captures them in blistering form.

The similarly abrasive ‘Rude Awakening’ takes the pure hardcore elements and cranks them further, really working the drums throughout, and again, applies a particularly crushing tone to the guitar. With a shouted vocal present from the outset, there’s even less room here for variety within the riffs, but Lifesick still manage to shake the foundations of a tried and tested style by dropping in a few horsey squeals from the guitar and a couple of nods to the most extreme end of groove metal during the coda. In hardcore terms, it might seem a little predictable, but when it comes to a sledgehammer styled riff or five, the end results are hard to beat. For those hoping for a little more melody, ‘Every Unpleasant Emotion’ is on hand to show a whole different side to this great band. Delivering sparse, semi acoustic riffs, the track opens in classic desert rock style – a whole world away from Lifesick’s usual stock – and even once the musicians have latched on to an actual tune, the hard strummed chords and deep crooned vocal could easily be the work of an entirely different band. What actually transpires here, is a tune that sounds like Leonard Cohen adding a vocal to a spaghetti western theme (almost a nod to Amigo The Devil, without the Brechtian slant), or something buried very deeply within the early Mark Lanegan and Mike Johnson catalogues. In terms of style, much like Lifesick’s hardcore, it doesn’t try anything to share anything that’s especially ground breaking, but it’s perfectly played, and the echoing electric leads that weave in and out of the doom-laden voice create a superb atmosphere throughout.

If you’ve been following the band’s progress up to this point, at least two thirds of this release will sound not only like a welcome addition to their catalogue, but an absolutely vital, truly uncompromising blast of pure hardcore. The unexpected foray into desert rock is just as welcome, in that it shows a band who aren’t afraid to branch out, and will not get stuck in a rut. The disparity between the musical styles might be a little off putting to some, especially on such a short release, but, honestly, the sheer professionalism here alone makes this a very impressive EP. It’s not to be approached either lightly or half heartedly, but ‘Love and Other Lies’ comes highly recommended.

March 2024