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Covenant - Nature's Devine Reflection CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.40 | 16 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Covenant is a one-man project of Dave Gryder, multitalented musician who started his career as a drummer and vocalist in trash metal bands Heaven's Force & Rotting Corpse. But don't be mislead by his past, 'cause Covenant doesn't have anything in common with his early years. Music presented on "Nature's Divine Reflection" is a traditional symphonic prog-rock record dominated by vintage keyboards like Hammond B3 organ, mellotron, ARP Solina string ensemble along with wide range of digital synthesizers. It's an instrumental album so we don't have a chance to listen to Dave's (limited but bearable) vocal abilities here, but his keys and drums skills are interesting enough to keep you entertained all the way. In general "Nature's Divine Reflection" is a pure keyboards-drenched heaven for retro-prog fans who like 70s staff in the vain of ELP, Rare Bird, Quatermass, Refugee or Triumvirat.

This CD includes only 3 tracks:

1. "Premise Of Life" - great 17 minutes suite which seems to be partly composed and partly improvised during some extended jam fragments. Gryder's organ/synths are very busy & frenetic but not as technical as Emerson's or Wakeman's staff. We can clearly hear that he prefers heavier, less classical-influenced and more dark-sounding keyboard riffs & solos. Thanks to such approach Covenant's music remains original and fresh, but comparisons to ELP, Social Tension, Trace, Ars Nova or Gerard are of course inevitable. I have to note that "Premise Of Life" is also the only track featuring guest Bill Pohl (from band "The Underground Railroad") who plays some groovy bass lines and one electric guitar solo.

2. "Eschatolic Covenant" - the shortest track is loaded with floating mellotron/ARP Solina waves and quirky synthesizer flights which perfectly imitate good old Moog sound. It sounds quite gloomy and sinister, so it reminds me Japanese trio Ars Nova's music here. Dirty, grinding Hammond organ solo in the middle is awesome!

3. "Sunchild's Spiritual Quest Through The Forest Of Introspection" - closing, 19+ minutes suite is a real highlight of course. Dave appears as an unstoppable machine playin' multi-layers keyboard riffs & solos along with speedy drum beats. Bombast, pomposity and self-indulgence! What more do we need?! :-) References to ELPish style are evident but some more spacey parts reminds me about Eloy's 70s staff too. Gryder also once again proves that he's another master of Hammond organ who can easily kick off as blasting & mean solos as Emerson, Crane & Lord. But as a composition "Sunchild's Spiritual Quest Through The Forest Of Introspection" can't be matched with well written epics created by prog-rock legends like ELP, Jethro Tull, Yes, Genesis, Camel etc. It's more an extended instrumental improvisation but I can assure you that it's thrilling enough to bring goosebumps on your back if you're already in love with such kind of music.

Overall Covenant's only album is nearly a must-have for retro-prog lovers who are never tired of listening to endless Hammond organ/mellotron/synthesizers runs. As I've already mentioned music on this disk can be easily compared to ELP's early works, however its harder edge & darker approach makes it more similar to Japanese female formation Ars Nova. And because I like to "advertise" some less popular artists, I'd also say that Dave Gryder's style reminds me Chilean keyboardist Jaime Rosas.

If you're interesting what happened with Dave Gryder after recording of "Nature's Divine Reflection" album, I can tell you that he created his own heavy prog band "Storm at Sunrise" (together with guitarist Ernie Myers & bassist John Chesterfield). After 2 albums with this formation, he joined hard rock/stoner rock group "Blood of the Sun" (where he recorded another 3 CDs). Anyway his most progressive album to date is Covenant's one, so grab it and enjoy!

Best tracks: "Sunchild's Spiritual Quest Through The Forest Of Introspection"

4,5 stars from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |


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