:CD Review: Covenant – Modern Ruin

 

Covenant – Modern Ruin
Release Date:January 17, 2011 Europe/February 8, 2011 North America
Label:Metropolis Records
Website:covenant.se

Review by:Jack Knowles

Futurepop band Covenant is back with their eagerly-awaited Modern Ruin. On their seventh studio album now, it’s pretty safe to say they’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 “Modern Ruin”, which serves as a short introduction to the album, linking to the second. A little like the sutures in Chemlab’s albums, if you will. There isn’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, “Lightbringer”. An upbeat song in nature, it is easy to see why it’s the designated single for Modern Ruin: It’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.

“Judge of My Domain” 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 “Judge of My Domain” a fresh feel. Next up is “Dynamo Clock”: a track opening with heavy bass and minimalistic synth work compared to Covenant’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.

“Kairos” 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 it’s not a full-length track. Even if I’m wrong, it was still a success in my book. The album reaches its midpoint with “The Beauty and The Grace”, 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 “A thousand times I pray for one last chance…” as if he has got his chance and is ready to seize it, and then finishes with one fading, pulse of the synthesizer.

“Get On” 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, “Worlds Collide” is on par with “Lightbringer” in terms of tempo. The vocal filter distorts the voice nicely, but doesn’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, it’s not the most varied track, and not one you’d listen to repeatedly. “The Night” is a song with a catchy little beat: a real head-bobbing tune. However, the keyboard work doesn’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.

“Beat The Noise” is the harshest track on the album: featuring static samples and screaming vocals; it’s close to Harsh EBM in places. It’s more akin to their earlier albums. Imagine mixing “Dead Stars” and “Ritual Noise”… That’s exactly what “Beat The Noise” is to me. However, that’s not a bad thing at all in this sense; it’s a refreshing change and mixes things up nicely. The vocals are upbeat and optimistic: “I can beat the noise. I can make it go away,” an empowering tone which runs through the album. Approaching the end of the album now, “The Road” is a particularly abstract piece, where the vocals take priority. It’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 “(Unlisted Track)” is very choppy and angular: mostly white noise with a menacing, ambient sound… 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 haven’t got it already, pick it up as soon as you can.

Download Modern Ruin from Amazon MP3

 

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