Review by Michael on June 17, 2003.
Times are a changing up there in the coldness of northern Europe. Bands are getting softer, and the once 'hardcore' are taking their makeup off and experimentation is afoot. It seems since the millennium, the directions and public expectations of bands that once upon a time could release anything 'black,' with any grade production and songwriting, are now having to not only work hard to keep their share of metal territory, but are having to expand musically and vocally to stay afloat. This is a very good thing for what was becoming a slowly stagnating scene.
The Kovenant are most definitely one of the best examples of a band that is willing to take risks when it comes to style. Like them or hate them, they are paving the experimental highway for the bands not willing to make the (what seems to be) gigantic step away from the same old coma inducing black metal the region has become so famed for.
The most recent release from this unique band, entitled "S.E.T.I.," is quite a step forward for the innovative boys from Norway. The only problem is it seems to be a bit of a step sideways too. In making the serious leap forward that they have over the past three albums, The Kovenant seem to have lost sight of an overall direction. Each song as an individual entity is a minor masterpiece, strewn with interesting ideas, rocking guitar lines, solid drums and though at times quite annoying, some pretty innovative and original vocals... but as an entire album, "S.E.T.I." it is a little disjointed. Too many changes, too many ideas and too many directions all being explored at once that can leave the listener feeling a little confused at times. A more simplified approach would have been more effective in capturing the harder and harder to please market. If you incorporate more of the guitar driven grooves The Kovenant are known for on previous releases with the brilliant drum and synth programming on "S.E.T.I." you would have one amazing metal/industrial opus.
The first thing that you notice when you set this album on its maiden voyage is the quality of the production. Everything is crystal clear, and with the amount of synth, programming, samples, vocal lines and various other musical messes, that is quite an achievement in itself. The guitars could use a little more bottom end and could gel with the bass a little better to create a larger sound, though. Even though the album is very well mixed for clarity, it loses points in dynamics. The lack of bottom end makes the finished product a little flat.
Bottom Line: If you like industrial you will like this album. If you like experimental you will like this album. If you like black metal, buy Dimmu Borgir. I'm sure Lex will agree with me.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.7 out of 10