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In Times Beyond the Black Symphonies - 84%

bayern, July 29th, 2017

Covenant aka The Kovenant appeared when the second wave of black metal wave had already gone past its zenith, and quite a few of its representatives were preparing to paint the canvas with brighter, less blacky strokes. Their debut was a masterpiece of symphonic atmospheric black metal, one of the highest points of the whole wave, and was followed by an even grander recording several months later, the unparalleled “Nexus Polaris”, arguably the finest work to ever come out of the Scandinavian black metal roster…

Having in mind the relatively recent appearance of the band on the scene, the anticipation was that they would put out at least one more standout black metal opus before eventually branching out into the more or less expected, but time and trends wait for no budding newcomers, and they also had to adjust one way or another to the new volatile environment. And this is how the album reviewed here came to life which was a perfect timing, mind you, since a couple of other, shall I also say former black metal, acts (Samael, Dodheimsgard, etc.) also swung in a similar direction, the industrial/electronic one that is. So our “Animatronic” here is one compulsive dancey “beast”, but before you all run horrified by this description, let’s have a closer look at what these cyber-artists have cooked.

So this spacey futuristic “dance” begins with “Mirrors Paradise”, a most alluring cosmic metal extravaganza which will keep you jumping around driven by the “keyboards/guitars” duel, the excessive vocal supply one of which is an angelic female soprano, and the plain catchy, irresistible rhythm-section. “New World Order” imposes the “new world order” with more infectious industrial arrangements, excellent female vocal insertions, more prominently featured guitars, and a memorable shouty chorus. “Mannequin” is a lyrical industrial ballad which doesn’t quite work with the hysterical blacky vocals, but the opera diva is here again to alleviate the situation, the latter even taking the lead on a few occasions on “Sindrom” which is just an ordinary mid-pacer with a gothic aura. “Jihad” moves things around with the suggestive Oriental tunes and the more aggressive guitars which nearly reach thrashy parametres at some stage, but “The Human Abstract” is quick to bring the delivery safely back to the milder, dancey patterns although some admirable riff-driven “windmills” are served there as well amongst the omnipresent keyboard sweeps, the excellent lead inclusions, and the poignant melodic configurations which are supervised by the female soprano for the umpteenth time.

“Prophecies of Fire” is an imposing symphonic, gothic opus which could have been left out from the preceding saga due to its industrialized flair although in terms of execution this piece comes the closest to the guys’ earlier repertoire also with its calm, patient riff development. “In the Name of the Future” is the urgent electronic dance floor sweeper which KMFDM and Front Line Assembly were churning out in draws at the time, the keyboards overwriting the more riff-driven sceneries with ease. The Babylon Zoo cover of “Spaceman” is an apt choice the band interpreting it through their own industrial perspective, turning it into a psychedelic semi-ballad with the heavy rhythms and the abrasive guitars, trying their best to leave the chorus intact so that the audience could recognize the song… successfully. “The Birth of Tragedy” is a nice way to finish this fairly entertaining opus with more up-tempo thrashy vigour reminiscent of Die Krupps and Skrew, and although some annoying industrial interferences and more insistent keyboard dashes appear in the second half, this cut remains one of the highlights here.

Yes, this isn’t a black metal “symphony” anymore, but it’s a pretty well mapped new trajectory that still wasn’t such a ground-breaking phenomenon considering the huge popularity of the industrial metal wave which amazingly survived the old school resurrection campaign, all the way to the present day. So under the circumstances it wasn’t a very big surprise the big commercial success this effort enjoyed, prompting the band to carry on in the same direction which led to the creation of “S.E.T.I.” four years later, another full-on industrial/electronic metallism, less operatic and more hit-prone, with whatever vestiges from their early days irrevocably gone. Fourteen years down the line the metal landscape hasn’t changed much, and every style is welcome as long as it fascinates the fanbase. Our friends haven’t been doing much all this time some of them concentrating on their side-project Troll, a trve black metal entity if there ever is one right now, one that tries to give the Scandinavian cold steel another go in the new millennium. Good luck with that, but the fans would definitely do away with a few hard-hitting dancey metal rhythms in the mean time.

Time is running out for the planet Earth. - 65%

Diamhea, February 24th, 2014

The band's first release under the new name, Animatronic naturally signaled a massive change in both delivery and style compared to recent bombs like Nexus Polaris. I admittedly never had much room in my heart for the material released under the Covenant moniker, but that isn't to say this is a massive step in the right direction either. Compared to more recent garishly synthetic soundscapes like S.E.T.I., Animatronic at the very least manages to sound like a collection of actual songs. That is, I get the impression that Svensson's churning riffs laid the foundation of most of these tracks, with the electronic elements added later on.

As such, there is undoubtedly more of an appeal here, even if the guitars still fail to do much of marked importance in the end. Svensson's delivery still consists primarily of staccato stop-start patterns with some random upstarts of faster picked excess lurking behind the occasional corner. The tone, just like on S.E.T.I., is crunchy and has no problem cutting to the forefront of the mix. Opener "Mirrors Paradise" is one of the heavier cuts, and serves as an aural blueprint to the rest of the material. It is solid, but not awe-inspiring until just shy of the four-minute mark. The uplifting synths begin to hint at something greater, and a particular coherence is gained that the song wisely rides out on. The first three tracks are undoubtedly the best, with "New World Order" featuring the most balanced attack on the senses. The average track length on Animatronic hovers around the five-minute mark, which to me feels too long for exorbitantly animated music like this. A few sub-three minute scorchers would have done well to help sell the album's futuristic appeal without adding too much baggage.

One area this undoubtedly blows S.E.T.I. out of the water on is the vocals. Arnesen is just all over this thing, throwing any and all vocal approaches into the stylistic mixing pot with little regard for what actually comes of it all. There are robotic drawls, more traditional black metal croaks, overacted warbling, it goes on and on. Set this next to Eileen Küpper's flawless operatic cleans and you'll find yourself distracted by the extremity of the vocals just enough to forget about the compositional flaws when things begin to unravel. Regardless, Hellhammer is once again completely wasted. Without a coherent layer of dance-drum beats layered over his kit, it really begins to show some thin points at the percussive seams. Definitely not his finest hour.

Animatronic clearly loses the plot as it passes the mid-way point, with only "In the Name of the Future" and the cover of "Spaceman" leaving any real impact to these ears. None of the remaining material is necessarily bad or even offensive, but just like the majority of S.E.T.I., it is content with just existing as an amalgam of songs on an album. No purpose, no goal, nothing gained but nothing necessarily lost either. Most of the material under The Kovenant name is effective-enough background music, but begins to lose something when one actual sits down and dissects it.

Animatronic finds itself particularly out in the cold from a stylistic standpoint, as the vocal delivery is far too harsh to appeal to fans of Deathstars or other more mainstream synthrock. Alternatively, it still lacks enough of a metal disposition to really go anywhere significant with the more extreme crowd. Track down the first three tracks, skip the rest.


The_Ghoul, August 3rd, 2008

I love this. It's the one time Kovenant found the perfect blend of industrial and blackened metal. While the remix of In Times Before the Light was cool, this was much better. Hellhammer doesn't do any speed tricks here, but his presence is still detected. He has an uncanny ability to add energy to whatever music he drums for, and this is no exception. His presence was sorely missed on S.E.T.I.. Psy Coma is in his top form here, with the riffs very much reminiscent of Nexus Polaris and the occasional solo inserted here and there.

In fact, I'd say this whole album is really Nexus Polaris with an industrial makeover. Just as The Kovenant is an industrialized Covenant, Animatronics is an industrialized Nexus Polaris. The same "spaciness" is here, the same female operatic vocals, and the vocals are the same. The riffs are similar, but transformed to fit the new style. Although the feel is of upbeat industrial-ish techno, the instrumentation is surprisingly minimal; the guitars still reign supreme. That's not to say the keyboards don't have a high presence. Animatronics wouldn't be the same without the keyboards; they still only exist to complement the guitars, however.

Animatronics is a real innovation; previous attempts at industrializing metal usually failed because it was either metal with a industrial mask, or industrial with hard rock guitars. This is true industrial metal in every sense of the word. Every instrument synergizes with each other, if you removed any of them, it wouldn't be the same and probably wouldn't be rated as highly. As such, this isn't perfect, because there are occasional filler moments and the occasional overreliance on keyboards. But those are minor complaints. Animatronics is a worthy addition to your collection if you don't mind the electronic elements. If you're a black metal elitist or a "metal and only metal"head, then you should just avoid Kovenant alltogether.

A new age - 90%

Mahmoud666, July 18th, 2007

I have never heard any band like The Kovenant who can ingeniously mix techno with metal and still keep it heavy. Underlined heavy riffs and drum beats pace along side with an array of synthesizers blasting out their effects, it’s a whole new breed of music. An image of neo-gothic alien spacemen preaching the world comes into mind when the album is playing.

The sounds that are the most bold and are unmistakable are the samples of techno, futuristic sounds and special effects that the Kovenant have fused into the commonly know four instruments: the guitar, the bass, the drums and the vocals. At times small pieces of un-related music both lyrically and rhythm-wise are slotted into the tracks (an example of this is heard on track ‘The Human Abstract’ at 2.38 and on ‘Jihad’ at 2.36) which can be easily picked up by a different atmosphere these samples bring into the song. A great aspect of the vocals is the opera lady (Eileen kupper) who is like an audio visualization increasing and decreasing her opera tone according to the music, she occasionally sings with Lex in the choruses.

Much has changed from the old Kovenant (covenant) and most of these changes are surprising and are for the good, not only has Nagash now known as Lex icon changed his image but his vocals to a high angelic screech which at times sounds almost like hundreds of people screaming simultaneously (very beautiful). Musically I think that a lot of the ‘black metal’ weight has been replaced with a somewhat Star Wars/space orientated influence. The song titles are named in a very over seeing way of all aspects of human life which really grabs the audience’s attention to lyrics. A lot of the lyrics revolve around the hatred towards the pathetic human race; they bring all aspects of politics, religion and just a plain lack of common sense that the human race has learnt through out time.

“We shape the future- We rape the world” – The Human Abstract (track 6)

Great work

Drastic but mesmerizing change - 90%

ExPresidents, February 16th, 2005

When The Covenant was forced to change names, no one expected them to change their sound and image so drastically as well, which automatically alienated them from their original fanbase due to the age old fact that people will always romanticize the the music of the past instead of embracing the music of the future. Animatronic solidifies that theory in every way, and truly sounds like metal from the future. From the first riff in the opening song Mirror's Paradise, you can tell that this album is less complex than Nexus Polaris, replacing it with a more straightforward sound, but for some reason this makes it heavier and makes the listener much more prone to headbanging along with the chugging riffs. Lex Icon's vocals are different as well, incorporating a stronger vocal approach with a more diverse singing voice instead of the just the black metal scream, along with a very high pitched scream that he does sporadically throughout the album.

The lyrical content is much more abstract and symbolic thant the previous releases, especially in the song The Human Abstract. Some lyrics just stick out and resonate within, like "While you sleep we destroy your planet". Hellhammer's drumming has moved to the foreground of the band's overall sound and completely mesmerizes the listener. While I admit I was very sad to see Steinar Sverd's (Arcturus) presence absent from the recording of this album, the keys and synths are absolutely top-notch, and add the dimension needed to make The Kovenant almost a brand new band. I have never heard electronics work in complete unison with the band's sound without sounding too orchestrated, but The Kovenant melds it together with panache and ease.

By far one of the greatest changes in a bands sound and image I have ever seen, truly redefining the future of black metal.

A very good change from, "Covenant" - 95%

BoomStick, September 13th, 2003

The tracks on this album were the first of both Covenant and Kovenant that I had ever heard, it was a nice introduction.. Taking away the Black/techno and bringing in a better flowing industrial/electronic with hints of Power metal make this album unbelievable.

I believe that being a good band that makes Dance/techno music takes a lot of skill in having a very good sense of rhythm; beat that flows well as well as a sound that is quick and smooth. I particularly don’t like old Covenant...but with their skill as Techno adding Metal guitars to, “The Kovenant,” make them Industrial gods, which I think sounds great.
Sounding similar to Children of Bodom, and Rammstein (for some reason not on this web site) Animatronic has about three songs, which I would consider counting into my top 25 of all time.

Highlights are...New World Order, which is absolutely brilliant, with a heavy sound catchy tunes; of which they get from being a former techno band; very good sounding chorus and vocals as well as good lyrics. "World Wide Genocide, Mass religious suicide..." Sindrom is just as good with catchy tunes and operatic vocals, some double beats and strong riffs. The third song is, "mirrors paradise," which is a very good track, that really shows hints of past techno skill.

The rest of the songs are also very good, but just for the tracks, "New World Order," "Sindrom," as well as, "mirrors paradise," this album is great and worth every coin.
I highly recommend it :)

Thanks for your time


It's strange, but it's not all bad - 85%

OSheaman, July 15th, 2003

The Kovenant, as any black metal fan will tell you, used to be a highly respected band named Covenant with very well-known Black Metal figures, none more so than the enigmatic Hellhammer of Mayhem fame. They lost the name due to legal issues, and switched over to The Kovenant, changing their sound from a purer Black Metal to a space/industrial/Marilyn Manson-esque sound with very little of the original Black sound, alienating a large portion of their fans in the process. Said Black Metal fan will probably then go on to explain how the band sold out, how their sound is pop metal and has no place in any respectable metal collection, yadda yadda yadda. Well, they're wrong.

Now, don't get me wrong. I was a huge fan of Covenant, and I preferred their old sound to this new stuff. But now that the new stuff is out here, people who shut the hell up for a minute and actually listen to it may find themselves in for a pleasant surprise. Yes, the sound is completely different, but if you listen closely, the Black Metal riffs are still in there. There is a lot more synthetic sound, but it all combines to make a very interesting album. In fact, the addition of industrial effects allows for a more diverse and varied group of songs on the album, thereby ensuring that of all the things people will complain about, any cries of "Everything sounds the same!" will be wrong.

Mirrors Paradise is definitely the best track on here. The guitars are strong and solid, and the industrial-type effects are tastefully done. The next song on here, New World Order, is more noticeably electronic but still has a lot of good parts in it. Prophecies of Fire has an excellent beat and combines a church organ sound with the harsh guitars for an excellent headbanger of a song. The Birth of Tragedy is a song you will either love or hate--it sounds more like a Trance song than metal, but if you like trance and metal, the combination is actually pretty cool.

It's by no means perfect. The biggest problem is Nagash, who has changed his name to Lex Icon and has turned his vocals into a giant shitfest that occasionally sound good but generally sound like he's shooting out a humongous turd. And, as I've said before, if you don't like electronic music (and most Black Metal fans generally don't), you'll hate this new sound.

So that's it. It's not great, but it definitely doesn't suck. This album could easily have turned into a train wreck, but the skill of the band members is high enough so that they turn this into a very listenable album. I strongly recommend that you try before you buy, but it's definitely worth a second look.

Memo to Hellhammer: please die. - 22%

Kriegsminister, September 1st, 2002

I got this for Jule (or "Christmas," if you'd prefer) two years ago. I really wish someone had given me coal instead. Although this CD is enjoyable, it gets old. Quick. There's nothing really noteworthy or interesting about this album except for the atrocity that is its existence. I listened to it a couple of times and enjoyed the Babylon Zoo cover as well as the song "The Human Abstract," but all of the songs pretty much flow together into one indecipherable mess of burnt-out industrial crap. Hellhammer pretty much phones in his performance, if I can really call it. I suspect he didn't actually participate in the recording of this album; rather, I think he paid a homeless Vietnamese boy 20 kroner to bang a spoon against two sets of pots for 45 minutes. I hope he's very much ashamed of his awful performance here. Nagash is terrible as well. His bass is inaudible and his preferred vocal style is "Shagrath worship." I will give it this, however: it passes the time. I used to listen to it at work after I had exhausted my other CDs. In any case, avoid this unless you like disco black metal, and I know you don't.