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Black Lodge, as fellow reviewer Insignium puts it, has always been an incredibly elusive band. After forming in 1993, the band did absolutely -nothing- until Autumn 1994, when they started writing the music for Covet. Not until late in the summer of '95 was it finished, and then the band spent months recording, not finishing until later taht year in December. Afterwards, Head Not Found released the CD to an apathetic public, the band immediately split up, and as of now, only Black Lodge's bassist, Halvor Larsen, has re-entered the metal scene.
Despite the lukewarm sales of Covet, it is without a doubt, the most brilliant collection of musical genius ever to be released. Mixing elements of doom, gothic, thrash, black, and even death metal into their work, each of Covet's 7 songs is a mindfuck in its own right. The style of the songs range from being as peaceful and melodic as Leaves' Eyes, to as chaotic and dissonant as a Cryptopsy song.
The album kicks off with Dissonance, which, right from the beginning, creates an eerie air of suspense, despite the beautiful female vocals which introduce the track. The mood of the song varies, beginning with a peaceful-yet-melancholy collection of dirging guitars and wailing male vocals, but it changes gradually as Kim's voice takes on a more sinister, mocking tone, and the instrumental work speeds up exponentially. Quickly again, though, the song changes back to an ultra-slow bit of funeral doom, only to change again shortly thereafter until the track ends abruptly, moving onto Mother Urge.
The second track is the fastest one on the whole CD, filled with unexpectedly brutal male vocals, and even Kim joins in, adding her own screams, for the second half of the song. Even more dissonant than Dissonance, Mother Urge is as much a mindfuck as any Pig Destroyer song, but without the lame punk elements thrown in. Things die down in the last 10 seconds of the track, which then fades into # (rips as "Untranslated"). A hypnotic, eerie, droning voice and Larsen's bass are all that's used in #, and the lyrics are taken from Hamlet. The last 27 seconds of the song, though, are just the voice repeating "All life...has gone...all life...has gone," a play on Hamlet's "all -light- has gone", but acheiving the same effect. The fourth track, titled "Cube", picks up where # left off, with Moller still chanting, but quickly changes into a truly rageful song, filled with misanthropy and cynicism, supported wonderfully by blasting dirges from the guitars and excellent, sporadic bits of drumming. The song changes completely every 42 seconds (I kid you not), and gets slower and slower during the last two pieces, before stopping abruptly.
Tower Inertia is my favorite song on the entire CD. From the beginning, both vocalists take on a mournful tone as the guitars and drums support it, with Halvor mysteriously absent. Nonetheless, the song goes on, picking up to almost-normal speed at times, but then dying down, as the guitars stop, the male vocals stop, and the drums tap faintly in the background as Kim whispers slowly, almost inaudibly. The music picks up again quickly after a seconds-long stop about two thirds of the way into the track, and the male voice is back and enraged as ever. Although the minimalism of the track remains, so much is expressed through the sole guitar and alternating vocals, it truly is incredible.
After Tower Inertia ends on a rather melancholy note, Travesty picks up and destroys any semblance of funeral doom. Brutal and fast as all hell, Larsen's bass fights with the two guitars as Hoel bellows with fury for the entire track. I won't lie, though - some of the guitar riffs sound oddly like they were taken...directly...from Celtic Frost - Cherry Orchards...just sped up. If you haven't listened to Cold Lake upwards of 50 times before, though, and don't have it playing simultaneously, you probably won't even notice, and the song will sound just fine to you. Nonetheless, Travesty blares on angrily for its 7 and a half minute duration, and then stops suddenly at the end with the word "harsh."
Covet's final track, Mortal, begins almost as slowly as Tower Inertia, with the drums faintly tapping in the background and all the guitars buzzing quietly. This illusion of peace is quickly shattered, though, as the vocals return. Hoel's voice has taken on an air of acceptance of his fate, and Kim's joins in, still mocking, but with an ever more superior quality to it, knowing that she's won. For the first time on the CD, the guitars and drums complement each other and play in harmony, creating a decidely unsettling dark aura of closure. The two vocalists sing in unison: Hoel, beaten and submissive, Kim, strong and dominant. The music plays on, shifting from melodic and victorious to chaotic and threatening again, but with a much more sinister air. The track and the CD end with a final, whispered plea from Hoel for his death, before everything stops without warning, and Covet comes to a close.
Covet, although a long-forgotten and never-acclaimed album, was released over a decade ago to an unresponsive metal scene. In 2004, though, Head Not Found put out a reissue of Covet, and thanks to the wonders of the internet, sold all 1500 copies to a much more appreciative public. Despite this, though, the band is still incredibly unknown, which is always a plus. If you manage to locate a copy of Covet, even if it's $250 (the price of my original, bought in 03), by all means, *buy it*. Both kvlt as fuck and incredible, Covet is easily the most amazing musical work ever spawned.
I think a potential buyer of this album might appreciate an opinion unlike the two that preceded it, because I cannot relate to such enjoyment of 'Covet' whatsoever.
The lyrics are verbose because the music is vague bordering thin air. Everything about the album shouts 'token'; the 'heavy metal' riffs, the dissonance, the two stupid vocal styles that unintentionally mock the opera format.
They should have tried their hand at some other medium, because music was not a language they seemed able to harness. Their mish-mash of cliched metaphors are mish-mashed into obvious and formulaic structures that ring of rock and roll fodder despite their experimental doom and industrial pretences.
There is no sin in taking the general conventions of a genre for what they connotate to the artist and weaving this into a piece of music. That's how a lot of homogenous-to-the-ear genres took shape, albeit quite subtely. However, the songwriting of Black Lodge is so powerless that it becomes totally subservient to the limitations of each style they draw from, thus crushing all hopes of coherency.
Black Lodge has always been an extremely elusive band. The band disbanded without a word after releasing this CD. Neither does any of the musicians play in any other bands. The only thing that seems for shure is that the band comes from Stavanger on the south-western parts of Norway. The style they play is hard to define as well. It has everything from early blasting doom/death to doom/black, to atmospheric and funeral doom. Sometimes there is even industrial/dark ambient parts. More odd is it that none of the things ever seem to be out of place. But what can be said for shure is that it is definately doom and definately metal. During the mid nineties when the band was active there were nothing that could be compared to them. And still no one has ever made an attempt at continuing this odd sub-genre. The album is a hard to get doom relic with a very well deserved reputation.
Heavy and low-tuned guitars do most of the instrumental work. From a deep plodding movement, to chaotic and half panic ridden galloping, to quiet steps of ambience. They yield no high and serene notes. Neither any comfort. They range from the tortured to the depressed, to the intense fury of agony which follows. Although the guitars might dirge their way in some sections, the drums enshure that the heavy pounding keep mushing. One section of the album is drenched in an industrial cloud of darkness. Besides the rusty noises and sounds of iron banging there is no new instruments in that section. It is just all horribly distorted. An image that comes to mind is trudging across a big, misty and dark, yet bleak swamp. Here and there a pair of yellow eyes would stare up on you from it. Yet this mental image is merely an emotion deep rooted in a maddened mind and it's ruined soul. What damage filthy love does....
Love has many aspects. Covet means lust or strong desire to own. These desires result in an enraged and twisted mind. The compulsions of posession and frustrations caused by rejection. The two singers give a chilling illustration of this madness by reversing the beuty and the beast concept. The serene female singer is the beast, the sirene, succubus that tell foul lies with angelic voice. The painful growled vocals is the victim of the pretty voice, and the filthy covet that follows them. As the succubus angel secretly breaks the desiring to succumb to her spell, she also breaks his ties to any safe harbor of sanity. Panik spreads as he try to grab hold onto anything solid besides the cute perversities in his head. All in vain. Love has become lust, and lust has turned it's ugly side forth. Now it is a mental gore phoenix rising from the ashes whenever it wants to be burned and forgotten. When love torments the mind such, the return is gone.
Interpretation of the tracks:
-Dissonance: Marches on steadily in a funeral doom pace. The rusty guitars work riffs that first hang lightly in the air, and in the end come crushing down. This without ever playing more than maximum one note pr second. The empty aura that this yields is drenched in a heavy, yet lingering, emotional pain. Towards the end the pace of the music goes up and gives the music a closer resemblance to mid paced black metal, effectively creating a feeling of the agony and pain rising inside. The track begins with the very well describing words "tainted longing". Love can be so cruel. No matter how far he reaches, no matter how much he longs, she will not love him. Her goal is gain and he is her slave, ensnared by her lies. Ever how much he tries to forget, she always returns in his thoughts. Her abuse has twisted his view of love into lust. Now there is only one thing that can happend. A perverse hunger appears...
-Mother Urge: Much heavier riffs dominate this almost mid paced track. However everything but the female voice is tuned extremely low. The whole track sludges onwards in a heavy, almost angry way. The female voice entvines with the male one at times, creating a maddening effect of the lies speaking to try and subdue the truths underneath. It is clear that the perverse hunger has gotten a solid root inside him. For every pain she causes him, she empowers the hunger, making him grow stronger. All his focus is on the filthy desires that linger in him. The love itself is drowned in the furious urges that seep through his veins. Sodomic and vengeful throughts roam his mind, and it pleases him. She will pay for her lies.
-#:The sound of this track is completely different from the others. The guitars buzz on like an engine running, peeping into the foreground from time to another with claustrophobic dirges. Metallic banging noises and radio fuzz appear here and there to add to the diffuse appearance. This rhythmless track is almost like an intermission done on a TV with a lot of disturbance. Into all of this comes a diffuse preaching voice. It seeps into the album as if to try to reach through and tell the truth to the lusting. The world is truly a beast. It ruins our dreams and undermines our longings. There is a clue here which tells us that the decieving angel is a product of the lifeless world. The short track melts over into the next repeating manically the words "all life, has gone".
-Cube: flows In from the previous track, repeating the same sanity slipping rant. The riffage gets supplemented by the drums to make a crushingly heavy sound. The track goes over into a higher pace in the middle, which during some of it the riffs lighten up a bit and getting aggressive. It is evident what bursts of rage the urges bring along with them. In the middle of the track there is a chanted section which seems to come in from the background, supported by painful yells. The words of the chant is an almost completely incomprehencible row of horrors. As an important note he repeats twice here that she is only a vampire. The madness spreads throughout his mind and to some point he manages to controll it, barely. He constantly utters his disgust for her words, her lies, her very being that has brought him to be like this.
-Tower Inertia: Is a more minimalistic track. The riffage is slow and heavy with lots of air inbetween. It is calmer and more wallowing, yet doesn't let go of the urges inside. A wast quiet and ambient section fills the center of the track. Now, the urges has become depression and longing once again. After trying to break away from his deceitful angel, he finds that the urge is too strong. He wanders between his options. Should he kill himself? Or should he allow her to come back? He knows she will only lie to him again, but a life without her is unbearable. She sings her sirenic song to him and he follows once again. Her fear of the sun is mentioned, making it evident that the mention of a vampire is not a mad rant or metaphor. She truly is one of the nights children. Tempting him back he realizes who he now is. He has changed...
-Travesty: Marches quickly in and settles to a harsh and angry atmosphere. This only lasts until the pace goes up again and the urges and lusts burns inside once again. Intense and anguishing he rages inside. The pain of his new form is immense. She keeps calling him to her by filling the emptyness inside him with lies of beuty. He knows they are lies, but cannot help but follow his dominator. As well as nurturing the lusts he calls love, she also nurtures his hate. Now matter how much he pleas she only calls him more. Looking back at his tombstone, his curse, he realizes his death but refuses to accept it. Only her soothing and calm lies can negates his anger, and he follows silently in the end. She has enthralled him in her spell completely. His changes have been accepted.
-Mortal: Is the final stage of it all. The music is calm and lingering, yet with the hars guitars that has always been. A sad undertone moves along with the track. The final acceptance of it all, the final submission to her. His mind to be twisted forever, and her beutiful voice is all he hears. As the music rises in pace once again his anger is nearly all to her willing. He is still aware of what he has been, but the beastly new voice he has reveals it all. He is now a vampire like her, and her submitting slave. The lusts, love has rooted inside him. Her words, lies is the only truth. Now his pleas is all to get into her arms again, to let her abuse him at her own bidding. As the song comes to an end she reads him their pledge, and he repeats. Life has gone and he has embraced his death.