SBC music review: Covenant – Leaving Babylon
Sweden’s most notable electro act Covenant are back with a new album – Leaving Babylon. After the release of their previous album we saw the multi artist Daniel Myer leave the band to explore new adventures, something that has definitely changed the sound of the new album. With new fresh blood behind the machines and still with Eskil and Joakim as the main engineers in the control room, we are sure to recognize the pulsating beats that has become their trademark, but also pulling the space ship into new realms of their electronic universe.
Do we like it – sure, not doubt about that, although one might lack those obvious dance floor hits that we have become accustomed to from this highly energetic band on stage and in the studio. The tracks are, as always, impeccable when it comes to the production and the deep voice of Eskil blends nicely with the pulsating synths and ambient soundscapes that filter through most of the tracks. In the absence of dance floor fillers, although I am certain we will not have to wait long before the Covenant tribe releases up beat versions of many of these tracks, we receive the full spectrum of nicely tweaked synth pearls, vocoder voices and, not overly surprising, a fresh scent of noise inspired tunes. The noise ingredient is likely triggered by Eskil’s on-the-side project Cement, where he goes basurk with his machines – creating a mash up of sounds that would easily flavour any futuristic adventure on the big screen.
It strikes us again and again when listening to Leaving Babylon that this is a record with other ambitions than the previous albums – more experimental and more leaning towards something that can trigger uncharted demographics in the ever growing electronica scene. One can even find traces of the old synth maestro Jean Michel Jarre in there (Ignorance and Bliss), for good or bad – not sure, but it fits nicely with my visions of a band who has done it all and wants to explore new turfs, while at the same time stay true to its past. Speaking of the past Covenant also makes a flirt with JS Bach adding cembalo sounding tunes that infiltrates the cool sounding Thy Kingdom Come.
Striking the right balance between electro pop, ambient music, and hard core dance floor beats has always been at the heart of this band and it will be very interesting to see if the band who has now clearly opened the doors to new domains will continue to push the envelope going forward. It may not suit everyone, but it will definitely be a treat for those who are open to alternative electronic music.
From the label:
The forerunning single “Last Dance” has not budged from the top position of the German Alternative Charts when Covenant announces the new album Leaving Babylon released on September 6th 2013.
Built around a structure of majestic synths, quirky noises, unexpected harmonies, scary singing machines and fog horns, massive beats and Eskil’s signature vocals, the singles dark and atmospheric vibe sets the tone for the overall feel of the album. Balancing a return to their early EBM roots with their modern electronic soundscapes, Covenant digs deep into their history and incorporates threads from each of their early releases and weaves it into Leaving Babylon.
“The stars shines so bright when it’s dark” says Eskil Simonsson, the bands singer and front man, about the feel of the new album and the troubled world in which we find ourselves.
The album is available as a limited version of 5000 copies. Included with the eight-panel glossy digipak are an extra booklet and an exclusive bonus CD featuring Swedish poetess Helena Österlund.