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Coven - Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls CD (album) cover

WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS AND REAPS SOULS

Coven

 

Proto-Prog

2.92 | 50 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
1 stars Coven was a band that laid the foundation for future doom-ridden acts that bathed their music in devilish imagery. They are credited as being the first rock act to use the horned hand salute and the inverted cross in their photographs. The inside photograph was of the band in satanic garb performing a black mass, with a young woman completely nude on the altar (not Dawson, incidentally, who felt she was too overweight- I suppose Dawson was just too modest to lie naked on a satanic altar with a golden chalice covering her pubic region). Anton LaVey himself had Coven performing as something of an in-house band for the Church of Satan in California even. Christian conservatives at the time sought to prove rock music was rife with messages of the occult, looking at techniques such as backmasking for hidden messages. There are no hidden messages or secrets here- devil worship is the key element throughout the entire album. Thirteen minutes and fifteen seconds of the album are not music, but audio of a devil-worshiping session. As for that which is actual music, I find it fairly pleasing, but the constant occultist lyrics seem juvenile and sometimes downright laughable. Jinx Dawson possesses a voice similar to Grace Slick, almost exaggerating her idiosyncrasies, and the overall sound is indeed comparable to Jefferson Airplane. There has been discussions and interviews about whether or not Black Sabbath copied Coven (since, interestingly enough, the bass player's name was Oz Osbourne and the first song on the debut album is entitled "Black Sabbath").

"Black Sabbath" The first song on this dark album features a pleasant jazzy introduction that eventually gives way to a heavier edge. Rather than give the song a spooky, sinister feel, the layers of voices only serve to annoy me. The guitar playing is overall decent. There is some cacophonic business to conclude the song.

"White Witch of Rose Hall" Second up is a jaunty number with bouncing bass and a roadhouse-like piano. Despite the bluesy, almost countrified music, the lyrics regard the mysterious character of Annie Palmer. There is a 1928 novel by H.G. de Lisser regarding the same subject.

"Coven in Charing Cross" With lyrics describing a demon-summoning ritual (along with mentioning the drinking of infant's blood) and some droning chanting, the concept overwhelms what is otherwise good music. The music even stops during the chant. Dawson vocalizes loudly over the guitar solo in the end.

"For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" Obviously entitled after a variant of the popular canard regarding the original of a certain expletive, this song features some distorted guitar and rapid organ chords. As with other songs, the vocal harmonies are not harmonically pleasing.

"Pact with Lucifer" The music here is close to what a lot of popular blues-rock bands were doing at the time (this one reminds me of The Doors a bit). Dawson's vocals are all over the place and are raspier than ever.

"Choke, Thirst, Die" This one has some pleasant although bland music. The guitar work is quite good, running through various blues riffs, but again, Dawson feels the need to shriek over the guitarist's work, effectively ruining it.

"Wicked Woman" The second shortest track has a fairly basic structure but for a few interesting variations. At last, the guitarist gets an uninhibited chance to show his stuff.

"Dignitaries of Hell" Utilizing heavy tom work and several accents, this is the most drum-dominated song on the album. The singing about Satan and hell and all that sound out of place over such upbeat music, especially over those major chords. The guitar playing is tastier than anywhere else though.

"Portrait" The shortest song is a shadowy, more psychedelic one. The guitar is more subdued than on other tracks, allowing the bass to stand out, and the organ also achieves a bit more presence. Again, the lyrics are about Satan.

"Satanic Mass" Had I been inclined to have purchased this album without much knowledge of it, I would have been sorely disappointed. What seems to be the epic of the album is the band's attempt at recreating an actual Satanic mass. It begins with the tolling of a bell, but everything after that is chanting, preaching, the initiation of a neophyte, and a benediction. They chant The Lord's Prayer backwards. The leader says things like, "Are you prepared to serve our Lord Satan with your whole mind, body and soul, permitting nothing to deter you from the furtherance of his work?" and "I deny Jesus Christ the deceiver." The band pulled from numerous sources, including French miracle plays like "Le Miracle de Théophile," wherein one of the players sells his soul to the Devil. Much of the English dialogue was taken verbatim from Dennis Wheatley's occult novel, The Satanist. They also borrowed from Grillot de Givry's Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy. I've heard it once- I won't hear this foolishness twice.

Epignosis | 1/5 |

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