The Rickety Old Shack

The Kovenant — SETI

album cover

I don't know what the Hell happened to The Kovenant, but I'm not happy. I just discovered this band about a year ago, specifically through their Animatronic album. I thought the band had a very compelling mix of goth, black, and industrial metal. Which makes me wonder why the fuck they threw all that away when they wrote SETI?!

This new record begins with the expected audio sample and launches right into the very same intro as "Mirror's Paradise" — the opening track from the band's last album. Not only have The Kovenant decided to overhaul their sound — and not in a good way — they are blatantly stealing from themselves!

As for the new sound... if you're familiar with the band's history, then picture an entire album of songs in-line with "Mannequin", off of Animatronic. Slow music, spoken verses, and a generous use of choir synths and clean female backing vocals. The pacing very down-tempo and the electronic elements have completely overtaken all other instrumentation. Essentially, The Kovenant have made a synth-pop album with about 3 black metal screams scattered throughout.

SETI Is a letdown in many ways. For starters, if you were expecting a heavy, hard rock feel to the music, then you're shit-out-of-luck. If you expected anything similar to The Kovenant's previous black metal flavoured albums then, again, you're shit-out-of-luck. For all intents and purposes, this incarnation of the band has nothing more than a name in common with their past efforts.

I've listened to SETI over a dozen times and, still, I can not enjoy it even half as much as Nexus Polaris or Animatronic, both of which were much more focused and powerful. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden Lex Icon is now writing seven-minute low-grade synth pop over thin, aenemic guitars. The most heinous addition to the band's sound are his newer vocals, which sound like spoken word they're so flat and lacking in depth. Everything has the urgency of an answering machine recording about a document request from a municipal government office.

Basically, if you like The Kovenant, do not listen to this record. Do not buy it. Do not acknowledge it. Do not shatter your vision of a competent, talented musical outfit that masterfully blends synths guitars and black metal vocals. This new band — in addition to even sillier costumes — have abandoned their industrial black metal mix, in favour of ... Something. I'd love to be able to say SETI was an attempt at commercial success but, honestly, none of these songs are geared toward radio either. A 7-minute track with no quality hook is not going to be lighting up the charts.

Summary

This album is defined by it's opening track, "Cybertrash." If these guys can manage to put away some of the electronics and remember they used to know how to rock, they might get back on track. Otherwise I'm expecting a club-techno album as their next release. At which point, I'm selling my copy of Animatronic and pretending this band never existed.

Album Information

Release date: March 31st, 2003
Record label: Nuclear Blast

Lex Icon — vocals, keyboards
Psy-Coma — guitar, keyboards, programming
Hellhammer — drums

Track Listing

  1. Cybertrash
  2. Planet Of The Apes
  3. Star By Star
  4. Via Negativa
  5. Stillborn Universe
  6. Acid Theatre
  7. The Perfect End
  8. Neon
  9. Keepers Of The Garden
  10. Pantomime
  11. Hollow Earth
  12. Industrial Twilight

—by Derek

Published: April 2nd, 2003.

Edited: May 22nd, 2020.