'The Blinding Dark'
Just when you think the Swedish synthpop veterans couldn't have any more tricks up their sleeves, they return with perhaps their coldest, darkest, and most stripped-back release to date. Covenant have always been synonymous with that reverential swell that is an undeniable emotive pull. It has been three years since the band released 'Leaving Babylon', and for their ninth full-length studio release they have turned the atmospheres in on themselves for a more foreboding and sinister sound.
Songs such as 'Dies Irae', the two 'Interlude' instrumentals, 'A Rider On A White Horse', 'Fulwell', and 'Summon Your Spirit' show a slower, more considered and ominous and experimental slant on the band's sound that flips the usual listening experience on its head.
However, the band still make room for plenty of club orientated dancefloor-killers such as 'Sound Mirrors', 'I Close My Eyes', 'Morning Star', and 'Cold Reading' to reinvigorate the energy of the record, but not necessarily change the overall atmosphere.
The songwriting yields some unexpected and experimental treasures that will surely stand-out amongst the band's already expansive back catalogue. And while their core sound remains intact for several tracks the band the dark influences of acts such as Einstürzende Neubauten and Nick Cave spiritually hang over a lot of what is going on here. The end result is truly interesting.
In terms of production the tracks are up to the usual standard we'd expect from Covenant. And while there is a little more noise, more acoustic sounds, and a much darker tone, the songs still fit the band's particular idiom.
This album will probably split fans as to whether it is too experimental or an unexpected but welcome curve-ball. Time will tell on how it is received, but in the here and now this is a fresh and challenging album from one of the scene's longest serving acts that shows they still have plenty of ideas left.