The Kovenant

The Kovenant

In Times Before The Light

Hammerheart

So there is a disclaimer in the liner notes that this music is no longer remotely representative of what those glammed-up droogs in the Kovenant are wearing these days. So what? Even if Lex Icon and Psycoma seem faintly embarrassed about the whole exercise (imagine YOUR high school diaries being published), I still think it’s a very worthy endeavor.

Immediately, In Times Before the Light is more enjoyable than 60% of the metal releases that make their way onto my desk. The duo that form the heart of the Kovenant know their revisionist history well enough that they’ve remixed and remastered the whole album. They’ve beefed up the sound considerably, giving it a nice bottom end anchor that was somewhat of an aberration in black metal circa 1997, as well as bringing out the individual violence in each instrument and vocal effort, and adding a whole database of synths, samples and treated keyboards. THIS I like.

The rebooting and revamping works very well for tracks like “The Dark Conquest” where a theremin doubles the lush synth lines and dramatic gestures. The end result is a pastoral triumph of the will, with Lex Icon gurgling in the background — a Byronesque fever dream of beauty interrupted.

There are some jarring moments too. On the opening track, a T-Rexian drum swagger gives way to a black metal ice storm overlaid with delicate ringing piano flourishes that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Liberace record. It’s comforting to note that Lex Icon had the same terrifying vocal delivery, high and rasping, like Cobra Commander singing the works of Mayhem. The guitars and whirlwind drums are almost completely buried by an onslaught of incredible synth effects. It’s the most eccentric sound to emerge from the black metal mold in a long time, even outdoing Limbonic Art with sheer narcissistic mirrorball guts. Best thing out on Hammerheart.

Hammerheart Records: http://www.hammerheart.com

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