CD Title: Skyshaper
Label: Metropolis Records
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
After a wait of four years, Covenant are finally back with a new full-length album. The wait was indeed worth it, as evidenced by first single (and the opening album track) "Ritual Noise," a catchy, bass-heavy dance number with enough vocal hooks to make it the band's next "Like Tears In Rain." Another track with massive club potential is "The Men," with its fuzzy, driving analog beats, layered chorus samples and melodic vocal work. Not every track is a pop gem, of course; Covenant seem to have been listening to a lot of minimal techno while making this album, and it's not likely that many fans will be walking around with "Sweet And Salty" stuck in their heads. It is, after all, little more than a stripped-down kick drum throb with occasional loops of spoken vocals. Still, singer Eskil Simonsson's voice is perhaps Covenant's biggest asset, and even a more house-influenced piece like the tensely throbbing "Greater Than The Sun" becomes far catchier than the sum of its parts once his dramatic vocal work kicks in. Subtle but memorable flourishes like the sampled operatic wailing on "Spindrift" and the lovely piano line on "Brave New World" also help set each song's pounding drum patterns apart from one another. Perhaps the most stunning song, however, is album closer "The World Is Growing Cold," a slow ballad that forsakes the dance beats for muffled rhythms, letting Simonsson's heartbreaking vocal harmonies soar majestically over soft ambient tones. It's a hard song to forget, and a perfect way to end a nearly perfect album. Once again, Covenant prove that there's a good reason they're so beloved in the EBM and synthpop scenes.
Visit Covenant online at www.covenant.se.