The second, and last, Soulreaper record “Life Erazer” conclusively proved that the band was merely riding the coattails of the formation from whence they came, Dissection. Having the distinction of falling in between two branches of death metal Soulreaper, as functionally competent as they were, never aspired to anything more than being a solid second-tier outfit. With a new lead guitarist in tow Soulreaper signed with the substantial smaller Hammerheart Records “Life Erazer” is good for what it is but it hardly is a mandatory release in its genre. For that Soulreaper simply wasn’t individual enough, and “Life Erazer” is nothing but a workmanlike, if forgettable, genre exercise.
Leaning closer to its American inspirations “Life Erazer” is commendable for its visceral intensity but has little to offer aside of its crunch and Swedish melodic sensibility. With the novelty of its Dissection lineage worn off Soulreaper was forced to stand on its own merits. Band and album are respectable enough for what they intend to convey, but none of its especially vital in any capacity. Norman, while strong in his own ways, never had the compositional finesse of John Zwetsloot and/or Jon Nödtveidt. Soulreaper, who were always more American death metal in design, cannot overcome this rather fundamental shortcoming by sheer bludgeoning power and artificial heavy production.
The album is opened by a completely pointless intro before seguing into the first actual track. ‘Godless Reaper Of Souls’ contains some of the fastest percussion the band had up to that point. ‘Static Darkness’ and ‘Pain Within’ feature guest vocals by Tomas Eriksson. “Life Erazer” was the recording debut for lead guitarist Stefan Karlsson with Soulreaper, who replaced Christoffer Hermansson. The transition is seamless, but the absence of Hermansson as a songwriter is felt as he had input in some of the better material on “Written In Blood”. “Life Erazer” also includes a cover of Morbid Angel song ‘Fall From Grace’. As with its debut “Life Erazer” is effective and functional, but hardly a necessary experience outside of its connections to the band from whence it came.
While the soloing has improved the riffs and chord progressions are far from compelling. Christoffer Hjertén, one of the better aspects on its debut, remains as versatile and venomous as ever. Mikael Lång is content to just double the guitars, and his bass guitar is more felt than it is heard. Tobias Kellgren provides some of the his fastest and most technical work behind the drumkit, but he isn’t able to redeem the stale riffing and stereotypical Swedish melodies. ‘The Slow Fall Of Death’ is the only song of the record that could have been culled off a vintage Dissection record. ‘Transcending the Fall’ is an acoustic guitar track meant to invoke memories of John Zwetsloot’s compositions on “The Somberlain”.
The majority of “Life Erazer” was recorded and mixed at Los Angered Recordings (now known as Sonic Train Studios) in Gothenburg, Sweden with Andy LaRocque producing and with Kenneth Johansson engineering. The intro ‘The Unholy’ and ‘Transcending the Fall’ were recorded at Magick Studios with Nicklas Rudolfsson engineering. It was mastered at DigitalFabriken in Gothenburg, Sweden and features artwork by Kristian Wåhlin (Necrolord), plus a new band logo designed by Petr Minarik. Wåhlin usually produces better looking canvasses, and the one used here is one of his lesser works.
The lukewarm “Life Erazer” would prove to be Soulreaper’s swansong as it would soon be consumed by line-up problems and folding shortly after. Soulreaper was nothing but a sum of its parts, and its output reflected that. It was perhaps for the better that Soulreaper, a perennial support band at best, only existed as briefly as it did. “Life Erazer” cemented Soulreaper’s status as a second-tier at best. Nothing is intrinsically wrong with “Life Erazer” as such, but it wasn’t among the better Scandinavian death metal of its day. With a lineage in classic Dissection it’s a crushing disappointment that this was the best what the respective members would conjure up.