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

WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS AND REAPS SOULS

Coven

 

Proto-Prog

2.79 | 43 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars This album really gets a bad rap. People who want to hear Satanic rock wish it to be metal, on the lines of Black Sabbath, and that's not what they get here. Some can't stand Jinx Dawson's singing, but I have no trouble with her voice. I expected her voice to be like that, with that evil, wicked tone you come to expect with music with such themes. My interest in Satanic rock are non-metal acts. Dr. Z's Three Parts to My Soul, the Jacula albums, Black Widow's Sacrifice, and the two songs Beggars Opera did on their Pathfinder album, "The Witch" and "Madame Doubtfire", for example. And Coven is right up my alley. They also happened to be the only American band I know of doing non-metal Satanic rock. Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls is much like Black Widow's Sacrifice as they're both cited as early black metal albums, or even black metal pioneers. I don't notice anything metal about these acts (besides the fact many real metal acts picked up on the Satanic theme), any more than Dr. Z, Jacula, and Beggars Opera, and no one ever calls them metal.

On the other hand, I find Witchcraft Destroys Souls to be a tremendously underrated album. Yes, it's not too far off to think of them as a Satanic Jefferson Airplane. Probably because they use late '60s psychedelia as their platform and a female vocalist, but while Grace Slick seems to be such an easy comparison, I more think she reminds me of Catapilla's Anna Meek. Some of the music does have early prog leanings, but might be too psych for progheads. Highlights for me include "Black Sabbath", "Coven in Charing Cross", and "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". "Coven in Charing Cross" also features some chanting that got me thinking of "Seven Bowls" off Aphrodite's Child's 666. "Satanic Mass" is not a song, but a Satanic initiation ritual. I was laughing when the priest yelled at the young lady (presumably Jinx Dawson herself) in the most angry and demanding tone you can imagine, "Kiss the goat!" The actual music, to me, is actually a great collection of psychedelia with early prog trappings. If you enjoy Black Widow's Sacrifice and also the music of Jefferson Airplane, this is more up your alley, than if you were expecting something like Sabbath.

Frank Zappa's 1971 movie 200 Motels featured an animated clip called "Dental Hygiene Dilemma" in which Jeff (Jeff Simmons) wanted to quit the comedy group (The Mothers) and how he wanted to be heavy, like Grand Funk, Black Sabbath, or Coven. I really laughed at that, since it's only Sabbath one can actually call heavy. Not to mention this was more or less the same group who by that time scored a hit with "One Tin Soldier" which sounded more like AM radio fare (the band had to change after the backlash of Witchcraft).

It's been said about eerie similarities to Black Sabbath. Coven's bassist was named Oz Osborne. But he's not Ozzy Osbourne, despite similar names. Coven recorded a song called "Black Sabbath", but is hardly the same song Sabbath recorded on their debut. Plus Witchcraft Destroys Minds was never released in the UK, so we can speculate the coincidences until our face turns blue.

Also interesting to note two members of Aorta, Jim Donlinger and Jim Nyeholt appeared on the album. What puzzles me is how did Jim Donlinger (James Vincent) agreed to play and even write for this album? He was openly Christian, so that's ever more puzzling. The March 1970 issue of Esquire Magazine had an article called "Evil Lurks in California" which apparently featured a picture of Charles Manson holding a copy of this album, which Mercury didn't want a backlash and quickly deleted it. Original LPs have became a rare collector's item, I was in rather shock to find a copy at a local Eugene, Oregon record store, so I bought a copy and glad I did!

I know many people won't like this album, but I do, so I won't hesitate to give it a four star rating.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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