Covenant – Modern Ruin
Release Date: January 17, 2011 Europe/February 8, 2011 North America
Label: Metropolis Records
Review by: Jack Knowles
Futurepop band Covenant is back with their eagerly-awaited Modern Ruin. On their seventh studio album now, itâ€™s pretty safe to say theyâ€™re one of the most established bands of their genre. Modern Ruin is just as (if not more) danceable than the predecessor Skyshaper, staying true to their style of easily-accessible futurepop.
The album opens with the rather minimalist track â€œModern Ruinâ€, which serves as a short introduction to the album, linking to the second. A little like the sutures in Chemlabâ€™s albums, if you will. There isnâ€™t much worth mentioning; as the track features a single pulsing beat with some heavily distorted vocal samples. Covenant has teamed up with Swedish EBM band Necro Facility for the second track, and only single, â€œLightbringerâ€. An upbeat song in nature, it is easy to see why itâ€™s the designated single for Modern Ruin: Itâ€™s probably the most accessible track and the kind you expect the crowd to jump up for as soon as it starts in concert. Creative use of Auto-Tune and optimistic, up-tempo beats make it an instant favourite.
â€œJudge of My Domainâ€ starts off with some dark synthesiser work, creating an eerie atmosphere before stripping that all away when the fast beat comes in. The vocoder used in parts gives the vocals a robotic tone, not entirely unlike Daft-Punk. Alternating between the vocoder and clean, crisp vocals gives â€œJudge of My Domainâ€ a fresh feel. Next up is â€œDynamo Clockâ€: a track opening with heavy bass and minimalistic synth work compared to Covenantâ€™s usual style. A pulsating beat kicks in along with the vocals, making it deliciously danceable. The vocals are pretty standard, and not very varied, but this is the track the average futurepop fan would prefer down at the club rather than personal listening. The beat picks up in the outro, bringing the track to a satisfying crescendo.
â€œKairosâ€ is a minute-long, filler track with minimalistic synth work and Eskil operating out of his normal vocal range. I can see why the track was so short; it was a chance for him to try something vocally different, and not worry about the experiment not turning out great because itâ€™s not a full-length track. Even if Iâ€™m wrong, it was still a success in my book. The album reaches its midpoint with â€œThe Beauty and The Graceâ€, a rather slow track with dark, distorted synth work. It does well in creating a suspenseful atmosphere, like the vocalist is getting ready to take on some great opposing force. The pace picks up towards the end of the track with â€œA thousand times I pray for one last chanceâ€¦â€ as if he has got his chance and is ready to seize it, and then finishes with one fading, pulse of the synthesizer.
â€œGet Onâ€ opens with some upbeat keyboard work before cutting to Eskil singing over a single, pounding drum beat. The keyboard picks up again throughout the track, with some impressive solo work making it pleasing to the ears. It does well in creating an active dance track, and will definitely have you tapping your feet at the very least. Next up, â€œWorlds Collideâ€ is on par with â€œLightbringerâ€ in terms of tempo. The vocal filter distorts the voice nicely, but doesnâ€™t go well with clean vocals layered on top of them. The electronic drum beats are fast pace and militaristic in nature, setting the pace of the track well. However, itâ€™s not the most varied track, and not one youâ€™d listen to repeatedly. â€œThe Nightâ€ is a song with a catchy little beat: a real head-bobbing tune. However, the keyboard work doesnâ€™t fit with the rest of the track, making its high-pitched screech a grate on the ears. The vocal pitch is toned way down, giving them a nice, rasping feel.
â€œBeat The Noiseâ€ is the harshest track on the album: featuring static samples and screaming vocals; itâ€™s close to Harsh EBM in places. Itâ€™s more akin to their earlier albums. Imagine mixing â€œDead Starsâ€ and â€œRitual Noiseâ€â€¦ Thatâ€™s exactly what â€œBeat The Noiseâ€ is to me. However, thatâ€™s not a bad thing at all in this sense; itâ€™s a refreshing change and mixes things up nicely. The vocals are upbeat and optimistic: â€œI can beat the noise. I can make it go away,â€ an empowering tone which runs through the album. Approaching the end of the album now, â€œThe Roadâ€ is a particularly abstract piece, where the vocals take priority. Itâ€™s an appropriately ambient climax to the album, for the tracks have an epic sound; as if we are facing some powerful foe. Feeble synthesizer beats add to the tired feel of the track, like the battle is over and nothing but aftermath remains. The closing track, simply named â€œ(Unlisted Track)â€ is very choppy and angular: mostly white noise with a menacing, ambient soundâ€¦ Like the fallen enemy is not quite finished yet. It leaves the album on a cliffhanger.
This is what Modern Ruin is, though. It tells a story of going up against impossible odds, and it does this almost completely through the sound, not the vocals, which is why the album impresses me so much. Modern Ruin is well worth the money of any electronic fan. If you havenâ€™t got it already, pick it up as soon as you can.