Coven - Worship New Gods
Shadow Kingdom Records
Doom / Heavy Metal
9 songs (39' 22")
Release year: 1987
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

After hearing about a new release by Michigan-based Coven, I decided to start at the beginning and get hold of their 1987 doom metal debut, Worship New Gods, which I'd never heard, but was re-released a couple of years ago. A quick taste of their music quickly turned into many repeated listens. This was an extremely rare album in the 80s, but now that one can get it off Bandcamp, I advise getting it as soon as possible. Simply put, Worship New Gods is a real masterpiece.

Influences are many on this one. Riddle of Steel starts with a solemn, epic-metal introduction and a lot of Black Sabbath-style riffing, but vocalist David Landrum is more theatrical than Ozzy Osbourne and the subject matter is more on the lines of a Manilla Road track. The Wicked Day, a quiet piece that meanders between fast riffing and slow, drugged-out fugues, sounds like it belongs on an early NWOBHM track, and Ruler, despite its heaviness, is more like early punk -- I was reminded of Siouxsie and the Banshees (which I later discovered is an influence of theirs that they cover in their new album, so it wasn't my imagination). The lyrics are spare, slogan-like, and not clever at all, but are given power by Landrum's full, clean vocals even when he sings quietly -- and when he wants to make himself heard, his ominous voice is earthshaking. Some of the time he is ever-so-slightly out of tune, which sounds like it would drive the listener crazy, but for some reason it only adds to the grimy authenticity of the album, and trippy, hypnotic tracks like Kiss Me With Blood or General's Eye would not be anywhere near as interesting without this. The copy I got was the re-release and thankfully, Shadow Kingdom Records took the trouble of cleaning up the production, so while the mix still is a bit strange (an artifact of the original self-financed production), it's not bad at all, though the drums and Todd Creda's abrasive, utilitarian guitar are still commingled and often blurred together in the mix, forming a buzzing backdrop to the vocals.

Coven changes at the drop of a hat from fast, thrash-style riffing with high, almost squealing vocals, to doom passages, big and funereal. The changes never seem forced, and even on atonal tracks like Loki, the beat is strong and driving and doesn't let anything stagnate. Even Landrum's echoing shouts on that one, which would be annoying coming from another vocalist, are still nice to listen to due to the high drama in which they are delivered. And when these fast-to-slow changes are most effective, such as on Burial Ground, sung in a hollow voice by Landrum, it's breathtakingly good.

Worship New Gods is a good one to pick up for any metal fan; there's something for everyone on this album, and the idiosyncratic nature of the music on it is fascinating and (as I've quickly discovered) quite addictive to listen to. Like certain other obscure gems of the 80s doom world (Dark Quarterer's debut album comes to mind), this is a strange but impressive album that well warranted its re-release.


Killing Songs :
All of them
Andy quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Coven that we have reviewed:
Coven - Destiny of the Gods reviewed by Andy and quoted 60 / 100
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