What we have here is the debut album of Detroit’s Coven (so yeah, not the occult rock Jinx-Coven) – otherwise also known as Coven 13. Self-released on vinyl in 1987 (under Crom Records moniker), the full-length never received particularly broad distribution, and was hence considered an unattainable rarity. Last month Shadow Kingdom Records put an end to all that, by releasing this album for the first time on CD.
To those unfamiliar to the band, words of warning are warranted… as this is by no means as accessible as the ‘other’ Covens. There’s a fair bit of identity to ‘Worship New Gods’, in fact, there isn’t anything quite like it. To give you a vague idea what territory we’re at, occult heavy/doom comes closest – we’re talking Candlemass, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road and the usual Sabbath, those sorts of regions.
The production on the record is quite curious for a heavy metal record. It is essentially stripped down, yet the guitars are lower on the mix than the drums and the vocals, making them sound almost punky at times, whilst essentially churning away classic HM riff after the other. Luckily enough, drum patterns are well thought-out, keeping the hooks coming. Another (probably THE) standout element are David Landrum’s vocals – covered in heap loads of reverb (akin some sort of stadium rock echo). Whilst off-key from time to time, his singing carries on this album (easily being loudest in the mix). Somehow Landrum has managed to bring across a voice utterly possessed by the music… so possessed, even, that no fucks are given about those notes that are missed by a country mile – somehow adding to the charms of it all.
A good way to get into this album is though tracks like ‘Burial Ground’, as they capture the essence of Coven: Always catchy, always obscure, always innovative and individual. This record is indeed a lost gem and I urge all fans of this era of US metal to have a very good listen. The band have now reformed (with the original lineup), so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ll manage to make their way to European shores any time soon. Let’s bloody hope so!
(8/10 Miika Virtanen)