Jan 2014 05

Covenant - Leaving BabylonCovenant
Category: Electro / EBM / Synthpop
Album: Leaving Babylon
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: While retreading familiar ground, Covenant’s latest album is attractive in its simplicity and enticing in its elegant, ambient approach to the band’s established sound.


 

Since the early ‘90s, Covenant has risen from modest beginnings as a hard hitting EBM band into a melodic electro powerhouse and one of the most prominent genre acts around. Driven by the synergy between founding members Eskil Simonsson and Joakim Montelius, the band has weather changes not only in the lineup but in the trends of the day, surviving thanks to songs as effectively catchy as they are danceable, tight production, and Simonsson’s darkly emotive baritone. With Leaving Babylon, Covenant enters into another phase of its creative progression… or is that regression? Either term would appropriately apply as this album finds the band continuing to experiment with its dynamic sound design while ever honing an already established craft of songwriting.

A perfect example of this tailoring of sound and style is “Thy Kingdom Come,” which begins with a harpsichord-like intro expectedly producing a baroque atmosphere that resonates throughout with lush arpeggios before a pumping beat and bass line enter the mix, the song’s melody eerily reminiscent of a more refined version of the band’s earlier hit “We Stand Alone.” Unfortunately, the jazzy keyboard solo in the tail end of the song is sadly understated, coming across as a half realized idea that could have propelled the song to greater heights. Similarly, “Prime Movers” paces by with a throttling energy, the melodic arpeggio in tandem with Simonsson’s raspy drawl making for a darkly appealing bit of danceable synthpop, the correlation of sparse and frigid ambience with pulsating beats recalling any track off of the band’s 2002 album Northern Light. In fact, from these two songs alone, one could imagine Leaving Babylon as a stylistic companion to that earlier release due to the similarity in tone, further exemplified by the chilled IDM throb of “For Our Time” reminiscent of a song like “Rising Sun.” However, the album is not without its surprises, the most notable of which being “I Walk Slow,” featuring layers of static noise atop light guitar strums – a rarity for Covenant’s usual pure electronic approach – upon which Simonsson’s breathy and minimally effected voice hovers as if on the verge of breaking into tears. As well, while “Ignorance and Bliss” continues along the cold atmosphere expressed on earlier mentioned tracks, the chorus takes a turn toward a tonality more reminiscent of VNV Nation with a mix of organic drum sounds and a shimmering arpeggio in the anthemic and uplifting chorus that could easily have been sprung from the mind of Ronan Harris, bearing a close resemblance to his “Sentinel.”

In so many ways, Leaving Babylon is the quintessential Covenant album as the band seems to tread familiar territory in the hopes of finding some new level of excitement in those older forays. And yet, listening to the album, there is a spark of renewed flair and elegane, as if Simonsson and Montelius left to their own devices felt a need to prove themselves as masters of their craft and exhibit a more sophisticated take on old formulas. As “Auto (Circulation)” states several times, “It feels good;” no statement could better describe listening to Leaving Babylon, an album that is plain and simple Covenant.
 
Track list:

  1. Leaving Babylon
  2. Thy Kingdom Come
  3. Last Dance
  4. Prime Movers
  5. I Walk Slow
  6. For Our Time
  7. Ignorance & Bliss
  8. Auto (Circulation)
  9. Not to be Here

 
Covenant Website http://www.covenant.se
Covenant MySpace http://www.myspace.com/covenant
Covenant Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Covenant-OFFICIAL/156626197713557
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
Metropolis Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MetropolisRecords
Metropolis Records Twitter http://www.twitter.com/metropolisrec
Dependent Records Website http://www.dependent.de
Dependent Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/dependentrecords
Dependent Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/dependent.records
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD (Standard Edition)
Amazon CD (Limited Edition)
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
 
2013-09-11
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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