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Coven Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls album cover
2.95 | 53 ratings | 8 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Black Sabbath (3:32)
2. The White Witch Of Rose Hall (3:08)
3. Coven In Charing Cross (4:04)
4. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (4:41)
5. Pact With Lucifer (3:32)
6. Choke, Thirst, Die (3:32)
7. Wicked Woman (3:01)
8. Dignitaries Of Hell (4:09)
9. Portrait (2:37)
10. Satanic Mass (13:19)

Total time 45:35

Line-up / Musicians

- Esther " Jinx" Dawson / lead vocals
- Gregory "Oz" Osborne / bass
- Steve Ross / drums, percussion

- James Vincent "Jim Donlinger" / guitar, vocals, arrangements

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Jerry Griffith with Sig Binder (photo)

LP Mercury ‎- SR 61239 (1969, US)

CD Outlaw Recordings ‎- OLR-002 (2000, US)
CD Akarma ‎- AK 271 (2003, Europe)
CD Nevoc Musick ‎- NEVOC 13 (2013, US)

Thanks to ? for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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COVEN Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

COVEN Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Epignosis
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.

Review by 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.

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars I guess that most people find satanism to be more in tune with pure metal, black or whatever, but I have always been of the opinion that the most chilling tales of satanic (or otherwise) rites, the occult (in general) and the supernatural comes more to the fore when the music is rather gentle and nice than screaming and thumping around like a norwegian black metal band. Who's to say that the Devil doesn't like his music to be relaxing?

It comes across less forced and more natural, as if all the mumbo jumbo is genuine beliefs, when the music speaks of all the good things (if there are any) with the Devil. Nice, gentle songs. That is the scariest stuff. Black Widow is such a band, Coven is another. If it is metal I am not hearing it, hard rock maybe but certainly some kind of proggish pop and rock with just a hint of folk.

The singer is crazy and her vocals are furious. Behind the blonde beauty lies Hell and she holds the key, I'll tell you. All the songs on the album are nice tunes with good enough lyrics. "White witch of Rose Hall" being my favorite, alongside "Pact with Lucifer". The so-called "Satanic mass" is maybe a track you listen to one time, I have not managed to do even that. I guess it is on there more as a novelty than anything else. On the other hand you have to realise that there was some sort of satanic music movement on the prowl, at least groups dabbling in the occult albeit dressed up in fany hippie clothes and flowers on their heads. Self t proclaimed satanists performing mock sacrifice on stage (like Black Widow) were (maybe) just out for the publicity, like so many other artists and groups before and after, but it seemed real and by that kind of scary.

Coven's first album is quite good. I would not hail it as a masterpiece, though by no means bad. It is rather solid, musically, but comes across these days as more of a novelty act than the real deal. On the other hand this outfit seems, even today, to be more scary and unpredictable than, say, Gorgoroth or Root. These boys and girls were in it for real, as it seems, and who knows, maybe there were a few apparitions gathering at the gigs, staring from the other side...

Review by Warthur
3 stars The decision to include a 13 minute spoken word rendition of a "Satanic Mass" (blatantly play- acted and cobbled together from diverse sources, including Anton LaVey's own tedious brand of commercialised Hollywood Satanism and Dennis Wheatley novels) perhaps overshadows any other aspect of Coven's debut album. The fact is that whilst its inclusion was controversial enough at the time to get some temporary publicity for the band, the album's reputation has suffered in retrospect for the inclusion of 13 minutes of embarrassing and often tedious Satanic ritual which goes absolutely nowhere.

It's a crying shame, because if you actually ignore the last track there's some solid psychedelic rock with progressive moments on this album. Thematically more reminiscent of Dennis Wheatley and Hammer Horror movies than anything more sinister, the tame Satanism offered here would look wimpy next to even the (still quite cartoonish) antics of Venom or Mercyful Fate in the 1980s, let alone the extremes the black metal scene would reach in the 1990s, but it does offer a precedent for acts such as Blood Ceremony, Uncle Acid and even Electric Wizard, with Blood Ceremony in particular coming close to the Coven sound in their more psychedelic moments. But at the same time, we can't pretend that the band didn't offer up an album with an unforgivably high proportion of filler in the form of the Mass. Three stars seems fair.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars The history of evil as the subject matter of music stems all the way back to sounds of the violin in classical music and eventually the term was attributed to all of jazz music for its ability to interfere with the orthodoxies of the established musical paradigm so it's no surprise that evil themes and deviant sounds would find their way into the rock world only a decade after the genre's nascent birth pangs. The first sign of evil themes in music was the appearance of Aleister Crowley on The Beatles' landmark "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" which opened the flood gates for not only more experimental musical ideas that led to more progressive forms of rock music but apparently also gave permission for artists to dabble into the more occult themes that had hitherto been eschewed in lieu of feel good pop culture or psychedelic escapist dreams as the late 60s came into its own.

Black Sabbath is rightly acknowledged for giving birth to the whole doom fueled darkness that would blossom into the greater heavy metal universe but the English band wasn't the first rock band to delve into the darker world of the occult. That honor wouldn't emerge on British soil at all but rather in Chicago, USA and initiated by the band COVEN who in 1969 debuted many themes and attributes that would become synonymous with metal despite actually being a psychedelic acid rock band that sounded more like Jefferson Airplane than Sabbath, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple. The band boldly dropped their debut occult themed debut on an unsuspecting public in the form of WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS AND REAPS SOULS in 1969, the year before Black Sabbath debuted their own darkened themes set to music. Add to that, COVEN invented the metal salute of the sign of horns, displayed inverted crosses and reveled in the phrase "Hail Satan."

The band was the creation of lead vocalist Jinx Dawson and bassist Oz Osbourne who were in a previous band named Him, Her and Them and after hooking up with drummer Steve Ross, COVEN was born in 1967 and paid their dues by playing alongside late 60s acts like the Yardbirds, early Alice Cooper and Vanilla Fudge. The band's overt occult symbology and lyrical content naturally generated much controversy and caught the attention of Mercury Records who was eager to cash in on the growing popularity and enthusiasm towards the occult that was sweeping the world. Despite the interest in this sort of underground rock as it was called, the album was quickly removed from the market after its release but became a cult classic due to its completely unapologetic use of occult characteristics that would soon be adopted in the world of hard rock and heavy metal.

Despite the wickedly evil themes and lyrical content that deals with the expected themes of witchcraft, Satanic worship and other occult subject matter, the album is actually characterized by a rather standard psychedelic pop rock sound that most closely resembles the West Coast psychedelic rock that was made popular by Jefferson Airplane. Even Jinx Dawson's vocal style and phrasing emanates the great Grace Slick with the sultry feminine bravado and charismatic drive that caught everyone's attention. The first eight tracks on WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS AND REAPS SOULS were characterized by a heavy psych sound that was found Dawson backed by heavy distorted guitars, bass, drums and the classic 60s organ sound. Despite the actual songs' lyrical themes, it's perhaps the final track that got the album banned and that which made it stand out from any other release in recording history. Track ten titled "Satanic Mass" concluded the album with a bona fide 13 minute black mass which displayed ritualistic chanting, chimes and Satanic prayers.

Ultimately the band was unjustly associated with the murders of Charles Manson and other deviant behavior of the time and was also lumped into the entire counterculture as a scapegoat for antiestablishment behaviors. Ironically the album's first track is titled "Black Sabbath" which may or may not have inspired England's godfathers of the metal universe with their debut album that emerged the next year but it does reflect upon the unveiling of the occult world that had never found its way into popular music. Ultimately COVEN's debut is more of a curiosity than a bona fide outstanding album. The music itself is well performed but nothing out of the ordinary for the 60s and definitely not the best the era had to offer and while the ending "Satanic Mass" is an interesting aberrance from the status quo, it really isn't that interesting and utterly a waste of time after a single listen. COVEN will remain in the history books indeed for initiating the first signs of Satan in popular music but i rather doubt that anyone will remember them for the music itself.

Review by friso
3 stars Coven's satanic debut album from 1969 opens with a song called 'Black Sabbath' and features a bassist called Greg 'Ozz' Osborn. The band is credited by metal historians for introducing the sign of the horns, that hand gesture people make at rock concerts. The artwork in the gatefold sleeve has a picture of a naked woman in a satanic mass. SO.. that's a lot of mojo for sure.

The music itself has nothing to do with heavy metal, this is a proto-prog psychedelic pop record with imaginative lyrics about satanism, witches and the occult. Female fronted by the eccentric Jinx Dawson, it is perhaps best compared to Arthur Brown's debut album. Organ dominated, performed with over-the-top enthusiasm and quite charming, creative and even catchy at times. The album is however plagued by a weak production. It sounds like a full-band live-in-a-studio recording with all its natural flaws; unwanted peaks in vocal volumes, poor mixing of the instruments and some slightly out of pitch instruments and vocal performances. The overall sounds isn't like flat or something, it's just a bit unrefined. On the plus side, this album does sound like a natural performance by an energetic group. Furthermore, when it comes to the compositions, this really is proto-progressive music; the organ-based compositions do remind me a bit of early Genesis. The quality of the songs is also fairly consistent.

The thirteen minute 'Satanic Mass' which concludes the record is precisely that; a staged live recording of a mass in which is a new girl pledges her devotion to Satan. Like a good joke, no need of hearing it twice.

In conclusion; I could not find a single reason as to why this record should not come as recommended to collectors of psychedelic or proto-progressive rock. It has a history, awesome artwork (there's a fine Akarma vinyl reprint) and some actual musicality and lyricism to back it all up. Its just that some of the vocals are a bit harsh on the ears.

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Report this review (#1633562) | Posted by doompaul | Thursday, October 20, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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