Covenant - The Blinding Dark
With some proclaiming that the tides of the world keep getting worse and worse as time goes on as civil unrest grows and people call for revolution and universal truth, it only seems fit that artists follow and create pieces that are just as foreboding. Everyone is in a darkened state of mind, and the legendary Swedish/German outfit Covenant is no different at the current moment. They see the problems in the world for what they are and directly address them in their ninth studio album The Blinding Dark. They strike at the political turmoil and European discord that is currently sweeping the world. However, that very message will only be heard if the music is just as stark as the issues presented.
While touted as more of a cold wrath than an voracious flame, The Blinding Dark does well in its efforts to remain quiet more so than loud and in your face. 'Dies Irae' begins off the album with Holy sounding synths backed by discomforting noise in the far off distance. An EBM beat slowly creeps and crawls forward, and Simonsson's deep, silently furious vocals soon joins the play. The thick chatter of a large crowd sampled in the song pushed it forward further. While not the standard Covenant sound one may be used to, 'Dies Irae' was a great way to start off the album and cement their image in stone.
The previously released single 'Sound Mirrors' shot in next. The track plays off like your standard synthpop/EBM club track with hooks and melodies that tries to allure any venue lurker to the center of the dancefloor. It definitely is not a bad track and has great production values - but that's something you'd expect from a band like Covenant who has been making music for all these years. Aside from a few amazing moments in the track where the synths dominated, the song just sounded typical for the genre. The same could be said for tracks such as 'I Close My Eyes', 'If I Give You My Soul', and 'Cold Reading'. Good songs, but there's nothing that stands out about them in comparison to Covenant's gigantic discography.
But, of course, there are also highlights on the album. One of the most exceptional songs on the album is a cover of country singer Lee Hazlewood's 1977 song 'A Rider on a White Horse'. Slow paced tribal drumming, a duet of vocals, and an electro-acoustic theme absolutely fueled the track. 'Summon Your Spirit' followed the same kind of tribal drumming presented on this cover, however the final track had more atmospheric presence about it. 'Morning Star' was fairly dark and cinematic which played on dreary tones and light drum and bass mechanics with an electronic note floating above all.
If there are any songs on the album that I did not think deserved a place it would be the two tracks titled 'Interlude' as well as the second to last song 'Fulwell'. On an eleven track album, three of those seemed like filler tracks with no real purpose. It takes the listener away from the album and makes them move onto something else. The first interlude is a chill, electro-ambient piece which came very early in the album as the third track. The second interlude took the eighth position, but again was not needed. 'Fulwell' came not after one song in the tenth position, and was a two-minute drone track; again, no purpose for it here and it should have been left off entirely.
While I applaud Covenant's approach to the album trying to move forward, there are quite a few issues I have found with the album that cannot be ignored. Though reading at eleven tracks, the two interludes as well as 'Fulwell' are entirely skippable. Three tracks meant to give a break between the beats is too much.
While the message Covenant tried to put out with The Blinding Dark may or may not be lost upon the listener is entirely up to the individual. However, it was lost upon myself considering I only found half the songs on the album desirable. While The Blinding Dark is not a bad album, it does not do much to evolve or push Covenant forward.Nov 12 2016
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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