FLIGHTS PUB PRESENTS THE RETURN OF COVEN
FLIGHTS PUB PRESENTS THE RETURN OF COVEN
with SAINTS OF DAMNATION & UNDER THE RED DOOR
oven was formed in the late 1980s just north of Seattle Washington. The classic lineup featured Dean Babbitt, Paul Hash on Guitar Neal Babbitt on drums Gary Peebles on bass & Jay Clark on vocals.
The band recorded three albums between 1985 & 1993 Blessed Is The Black, Death Walks Behind You & Boneless Christian these continue to be international classics because of their blending of several metal genres and unique style.
Coven is back again in 2012 like a malignant tumor again! Dean &
Neal Babbitt are joined by lunatic front man Jamie Carter, thrasher extraordinaire bassist Eric Close and the diabolically sinful guitar work of The mysterious UnderBishop!
Seattle, WA will always be remembered by people in the rock music fraternity as the birthplace of grunge and early progressive/power metal of which the former became a widely followed religion worldwide in the nineties while the latter sure enjoyed good success towards the end of the eighties. Little do they know that the city also spawned a devilish fiend and its name was Coven. Wicked, funny, diabolic, inhumane, perverted and demented are but a few terms that pretty much summed up the songwriting prowess. One look at the album cover of "Blessed is the black" and you could be sure this isn't going to be conventional hard rock singing about love, compromises and family issues. While they did not break any new grounds musically as much of it could still be dubbed thrash with just a few leanings towards doom, power and even black metal, their lyrical content certainly raised a lot more eyebrows than what the band may have even expected themselves. Coven sure did release one stunner of a debut album with an absolute unrestrained approach.
Before I got my hands on this record, I had heard a lot of good things about it if not convincing enough to give it a shot sometime. Upon playing the title track the first thing that caught my attention was the production and I thought to myself "For the year 1988, this production sounds as raw as an early eighties Venom or Bulldozer demo".
After the main riff which sounded quite captivating, the real show stealer stepped in and he's the maverick vocalist Jay Clarke. Holy crap BATMAN!!!! This was one of the most vicious vocals I had ever heard; when I thought I'd heard it all. The guy sounded almost like he was standing at the altar, screaming his lungs out to deliver an antireligious sermon. His vocal talent is definitely laudable because of his ability to bark out guttural grows and throwing in a few Tom Araya like shrieks as well. I still wonder if he ever had to undergo surgery on his vocal chords. The rest of the pack certainly had their basics in place. Good catchy riffs, controlled and precise drumming for the most part and tight basslines lay the foundation.
As mentioned earlier, while most of the songs here are rooted in thrash, there are various other genres that can be heard here. Perverted humor is inevitably heard on the tracks "6669" and "Iron Dick" whereas crunchy thrashers include "Burn The Cross", "The Monger" and the title track. "Rock This Church" is an absolute heavy metal anthem with that brilliant American power metal influenced main riff and a maniacal chorus that literally despises and desecrates the church of God while the band hits top gear on "McDonaldland Massacre" reeking of old school crossover and crust in contrast with the former.
The biggest surprise present on this album are the two power ballads "Another Life" and "Out Of The Grave" which are extremely doom metal in nature and sound nothing like any of the other tracks. With clean vocals and acoustic sections thrown in to good effect, these two tracks provide a good balance. The album finisher "Creature of Duty (and My Duty is Death)" has got to have one of the best song titles in business and is yet again another top notch thrasher almost along the lines of English thrash veterans Deathwish.
It finally made sense to me, why this record received generally favorable reviews. It sounded extremely original and the songwriting (despite the sick humor) sounded very mature and controlled. Not very often would you come across an album that explores practically most of the genres in heavy metal, but if you wish to experience a whole new variety of thrash metal, then look no further. In retrospect to the high speed antics of Dark Angel, Slayer and Wehrmacht this one provides a refreshing change and is highly recommended!!!
Copulation with a corpse - 80%
Written by autothrall on December 3rd, 2009
While Washington State is best known for its grunge/rock movement, it always had a pretty thriving metal scene, heavily dominated by melodic bands in the 80s like Queensryche, Fifth Angel and Sanctuary. However, the grimy underbelly of the Northwest also had its cruel side, and that manifested in underground thrash titans like Forced Entry, Bitter End, and the oh-so-Antichrist Coven. Which a riff style similar to a chompier Slayer, and a hostile vocal dementia, this band were out to destroy all through a no-frills, meaty thrashing and a mockery of all things Holy. They produced three albums from 1988-1993, and of them all, their debut Blessed is the Black still shines the most, like the gleam of a succubus wing.
Coven were not a complicated band. The formula is very simple: write riff, and clobber. Write another riff, and clobber some more. It took me some years to adapt to their crunchy guitar tone, but I think now I can say that I enjoy it, at least across their first two albums. Jay Clark's vocals are simply insane here, like early Hetfield/Araya if the two were being crushed in a vice with their balls about to explode against one another. Every now and then he'll break into some uncouth scream which almost places the band in cheesy power metal territory, but most of the riffs here remind me of one particular band: Venom. Sure, Coven were a little more modern, a little beefier, and certainly heavier, but there is a humor to what they do which recounts the shock tactics of England's most hated (and loved) band.
Blessed is the Black breaks out the big guns first, in the title track. A melody winds along aside some of their grainy, Cap'n Crunch guitars, and to be fair it's quite a good riff that tears right out of the speakers and has your head banging hard. Clark's vocals are fucking beautiful here, a throat no longer possessed by a human being, but whatever demon has sauntered forth to dwell within. "6669" erupts with a riff reminiscent of later, filthy late 80s street Venom, while once again Clark captures the listener with some very catchy, fun vocals. This is pretty awesome, especially some of the band's tongue in cheek lyrics, like:
'Six six sixy nine
Copulation with a corpse
Demons rape her rotting hole
Fucked and left to die'
Sense of humor aside, these were some pretty blunt and disgusting lyrics for 1988, and it often feels like the band uses them for shock value, but at least on this album, they really jibe with the riffing. "Burn the Cross" has an infectious, slower paced riff, I would totally blast this out of my car. This is what they were actually listening to in Hell while Twisted Sister was on Earth TV playing "Burn In Hell." "Out of the Grave" develops a creepy acoustic segment, and the band is more restrained, with Clark using a cleaner vocal style not unlike Erik A.K. (Flotsam & Jetsam) from No Place for Disgrace. This could be considered a heavy metal power ballad by Coven standards, but honestly...it's pretty good. "Rock This Church" is more like "Burn This Church", a fist pumper which creates visions of hairsprayed 80s youths throwing bricks and beercans through the stained glass fixtures at their local cathedral. And then we arrive at "Iron Dick", which is so goddamn lame that I can't help but smile at the ridiculous lyrics.
'Pulsating steel protrudes from my thighs
She who spreads is she who dies
Long as my arm and five times as thick
You'll die at the end of my iron dick'
"The Monger" boasts another of the infectious speed rhythms that flourish a little melody while maintaining a meathook core. Fans of Piledriver, Hallows Eve and other early, dirty thrash metal felt right at home here, and even the retarded lyrics of "McDonaldland Massacre" cannot completely piss on the parade of its charging mosh pit angst. You don't want to admit it, because it's just so dumb, but you would bang your head to this and sing along, and so would I. "Another Life" is a pretty bland ballad, though it is still identifiable as Coven it really does not belong here. The acoustic riff is aimless and the keyboards sound like shit, only the vocals shine. But the album ends on another high note, the melodic thrasher "Creature of Duty (And My Duty is Death)", which pops with Hellish glee as it sparks into another Hallows Eve, low-down charge.
How does it hold up? I'd say for the 6-7 stronger tracks on the album, quite well. The sound is so crisp and crunchy that it might take some getting used to, but if you liked vile and dirty thrash metal in the 80s which really sold itself on the wild hostility of its vocalist and a solid set of backing riffs, the appeal is obvious. This debut remains the most fun of their catalog, and while the band is often overlooked for the more impressive, technical speed/thrash metal acts of their day, this album at least is worth owning for collectors.
Highlights: Burn the Cross, Rock This Church, Iron Dick, The Monger, Creature of Duty (And My Duty is Death)
Quite the classic - 89%
Written by TexanCycoThrasher on September 25th, 2009
In the fine year of 1988 we were introduced to a new and upcoming thrash group entitled Coven with their debut Blessed is the Black, which has turned out to be quite the classic. With varying tracks with tales of humorous ( and at some times rather disturbing) stories and plenty of anti-religious messages thrown in for some good mesure, the intro Coven's career is quite interesting.
The odd thing about this release is how varied the production quality is through out the release. Tracks like "6669", "Blessed is the Black", and "Out of the Grave" all have a thin underproduced sound with loud drums and Jay's vocals having an echoey tone to them. And on the far other hand tracks like "Burn the Cross", "McDonaldland Massacre", and "Another Life" all have a pristiene sound quality with various added effects thrown in for fun.
The guitar work on this album is most definetely the highlight of the album from the ripping intro of "Blessed is the Black" to the oddly constructed riff of "McDonaldland Massacre", yet the odd thing is not very much of this is run of the mill, fast as hell thrash, it's mostly mid paced style, hold the title track and "McDonaldland Massacre". The other highlight is Jay Clark's wailing vocal style, it's fairly different form the average high pitched vocalist seeing as he throws in a bit of a growl with the wails. The rhythm section is pretty average and nothing too noteworthy from that section on this album.
As I said earlier the lyrics on this album are an odd combo of anti-religion and humor (in bad taste that is, if you don't know what I'm talking about, well, read the lyrics to "Iron Dick" and you'll get the general idea). Definite highlights are, "Blessed is the Black", "Burn the Cross", "Iron Dick", "McDonaldland Massacre" and "Another Life".
So if you're a fan of classic power thrash then I strongly recommend that you go get a copy of this, NOW!!!!-89%
Varied Metal - 80%
Written by ProMetal2007 on January 9th, 2006
Coven's Blessed is the Black is a debut album. This album shows all kinds of metal from Thrash all the way to Doom. They keep it interesting, some songs seem like power and thrash and some seem doomish and heavy (as in heavy metal). The lyrics are pretty straight-forward; almost so much that it seems like it's mocking heavy metal in the process, but still funny. The album opens up with Blessed is the Black, which is pretty thrashy still with that power edge on it. Next we have 6669, which is a funny song playing on the use of 666, adding a 9 ensuing awesome humor about the sexual position. The song's not bad, if you overlook the funny lyrics. Burn the Cross, well look at the name of it..the song's again that funny slower thrash/power. The chorus' almost remind you of punk in a way, with that vibe it brings. The other songs pretty much go down the same road excluding Out of the Grave which is the doomish part I was talking about earlier, nice work though. Rock this Church sticks out with the over-the-top lyrics, fucking great. Iron Dick, just look at the title again, awesome song. Mcdonald Land Massacre is a song about shooting up a corporate Mcdonalds, funny shit. Another Life goes doomy again, great song. Then right at the end they totally thrash it up with Creature of Duty (And my Duty is Death) great song about death and killing and yeah you get it. Overall, I like it a lot at the end of the day when I sit down and get sick of my awesomely twisted fast death metal and my awesomely fast thrash up the assers. It's something different, and it works nice.
yet another metal album... but a good one - 75%
Written by UltraBoris on April 30th, 2004
A lot of albums suck. That's right, kids, that is your basic fact for the day. A lot of albums suck, and they suck for a variety of reasons. Some albums are just plain walking disasters. No need to mention them by name. Then, the vast majority of metal is just plain uninspired dreck. When it tries to be different, it comes off as pretentious. When it's the same, it's a rehash. Not because of that aspect of the intent, though - but because the execution fails.
This, however, is not uninspired dreck. This is not a failure in execution. This is a competent heavy fucking metal album. Not something that sits on the convex hull of the genre, as a testament to just how different someone can be for the sake of being different. It was released in 1988, and probably would not have been groundbreaking for 1985. But it's still a good solid album. Fans of bands like Nasty Savage, Metal Church, other vicious power metal bands, the first Slayer, etc... should perk up at this one. This isn't a work of art. You won't feel squishy and be inspired to write for anus.com after hearing this. You'll just want to play it again.
There are lots of moments on this album that make me think "hey, that was cool!" - that's the sign of a well-executed album. Even more so than having 8 trillion riffs a minute (it's just entirely coincidental that sometimes I think 8 trillion riffs are cool), just the basic songwriting has to be there. Songs have to naturally flow, and not sound forced. Then, when you've got that down, you can make do with only two riffs and you're still a winner. Ace of Spades, anyone?
Some albums grab you by pretty much taking a brick the size of Kansas and sticking it into your oral passage. Pleasure to Kill! Others are randomly melodic without coming off as a forced attempt to be randomly melodic... not recycled Iron Maiden solos played at half speed, but rather actual catchy melodies that combine with powerful riffs to create lasting effect. The album may then be rather pleasant (Hanging in the Balance), or godawfully vicious (Eternal Nightmare), but when the songwriting and the ability put elements together in a way that works is there, then by definition the whole album will work well.
This Coven LP is an album that works well. It's not technical, and you've probably heard the riffs elsewhere many times. But what it does well is pretty much pull a Laaz Rockit at times, combining insanely catchy power metal sections with raging thrash riffage. The whole album has a sort of a punkish feel to it, with some great single-note riffage dominating the entire album. The vocals are also quite punkish, though somewhat harsh. Imagine the bastard son of Tom Araya and Joe Strummer. At times, the whole thing has the absurdly-catchy, so-simple-that-it-can't-help-but-work effect of a band like Atrophy. At other times, I swear I'm listening to Meliah Rage.
Throw in some hilarious lyrics... DIE AT THE END OF MY IRON DICK!!! This album is in no way shape or form epic or grim, and there really isn't all that much "kvlt" or "grim" quality to it either, but what this album does is just completely fucking ROCK. You want to turn this one up loud and sing along and play a mad air guitar at the red lights. Think catchy shit like the first Overkill LP. Bludgeoning thrash riffage (not a billion different types of riffs, just a few of the fundamentals) combined with some nice melodic elements... 6669 reminds of the intro of Hard as Iron (Priest), Rock this Church (what a song title) takes the intro riff of Air Attack by Malice, and Out of the Grave takes a simple melody line and runs it into the ground, lasting as long as it can while staying interesting. Okay, that song sounds kinda epic, though it's more atmospheric than anything else. Imagine Manowar doing Buried Alive (Venom), but without the death of the original, and the pretentiousness of the coverer.
So why should you get this album? Because it's a good listen. It won't stand out in your collection. It won't be the most brutal, or the fastest, or the one with the blazingest soloes. But, sometimes, when you've heard it all, and you want to hear more, and you're jonesing for one more variation on a theme, you'll throw this on, and you will enjoy. Competence, my friends. Competence separates this one from the Vectoms and the Vikings of the world. This one is not original, but it is inspired.
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