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The Dark Conquest - 100%

Lunar_Strain, October 17th, 2007

I had been eager to find this for a very long time, having heard the re-recording by the Kovenant and thought it was mediocre.

I was lucky to come across it, and boy am I glad I did. This is a masterpiece of early, raw Norwegian Black metal during the 1990's. Here we have an album that is raw, with scratchy guitars, muffled drums and softened keys powered by a young Nagash who provides gargling Vocals from the back of his throat.

Now, I said the production is raw, and it is, but the drums are mic'd very well. The snare is heard clearly, the symbols are also audible, as are the foot pedals. The drumming isn't half bad, either. Nagash does a decent job with the footwork as well as the rolls and fills. His blast beats are also on time, and paced evenly within the songs. Everything on this album, in every song, seems to flow well, and I think it is mostly due to the drumming.

The bass is inaudible, which is disheartening, but the guitars are well performed, the scratchy tone is not too light, but not exactly crunchy, either. From what I can tell, there aren't too many chords going on here, but alot of riffing based on tremelo-picked scales that seem to follow the some of the synth parts (or lead them; Dragonstorms is an example).

Speaking of the synth, this is nowhere near the keyboard-infested sounds of Nexus Polaris (An album I still find disappointing) or the later re-recording of this album and S.E.T.I (all recorded after this band underwent it's name change). Nagash's piano playing is not on par with the faster paces on the re-recording, and none of the ridiculous techno pieces are here at all. In fact, it seems alot of the keyboard pieces that are missing from the re-recording are actually played by an acoustic guitar (e.g. The Chasm, Storm Of Shadows, Night Of The Blackwinds).

The vocals are well performed, but nothing spectacular or over the top. The same, normal vocal performance heard by Nagash on many of his recordings, though I will give him credit here, as these vocals are much better than his ones on the "Drep De Kristne" album by Troll.

I highly recommend this album, if you find it.

Highlights: ALL!

King of the night! - 90%

Shadow0fDeath, May 23rd, 2004

Covenant's debut album has been one i've enjoyed for a while now. I first heard this album's remix, The Kovenant - In Times Before the Light, back in 2002. I realize both albums were made at 2 different times. Though some things that dissapointment in the earliar one that sound great on that later release was the use of synthesizers. It sounds a lot colder. Though apart from that one thing that dissapointed me the original Covenant is pure black metal art.

Every song is far more raw. The overall atmosphere is a lot darker than on future releases. Don't get me wrong. On the new remix version the atmosphere is very fitting and dark as well. I just feel the original is a lot darker and more fitting on terms.

This one also features a less electronic form of Covenant/The Kovenant unit. The synth sound a lot more orchestrated on this album. It sounds out of place in tracks like Dragonstorms, but it's a very defining element that continues to make the music interesting.

Nagash's drumming (assuming that's what Battery is supposed to mean on the original CD) is a lot more unique and progressive apart from other black metal releases with similar drum patterns throughout the entire album. Also what i enjoy is it's less electronic. Also his vocals as well merit reward. They are really harsh, not as android sounding as i feel from the newer version. Blackheart's guitar chords are a lot darker and more evil on this album as well.

Upon listening to the original it's as if being in a dark symphony while the evil powers and spirits are suffocating you. This album is pure harsh, cold, darkness so authentic it'll scare the shit out of Emperor. If you can find this gem i suggest getting it the second you can!

If you loved Satyricon's Dark Medieval Times.. - 83%

Egregius, January 10th, 2004

Covenant, or The Kovenant, a band that went the way of Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir: first releasing a few critically acclaimed releases, then quickly taking turns for the worst; a new musical direction, a more commercial sound, and then being spat out by the collective black metal underground with much revisionism going on in regards to the quality of their earlier outputs. For example compare the Satyricon reviews on Larm written before and after Rebel Extravaganza. Of course, knowing there was a (group of) commercial asshole(s) behind a release does justly diminish the chances on a good rating.

Hence also my slight ambivalence towards 'In Times Before the Light'. I remember that in my 'symphonic black metal is superior to other forms of black metal'-days I really loved ITBTL, although not as much Nexus Polaris, which featured Sarah Jezabel Diva, the then by me much adored guest vocalist for CoF and Therion. Having progressed musical taste wise (thankfully, for the most part), I can however still say I like 'In Times Before the Light', even though I notice a few shortcomings now.

The album itself consists of black metal, with fuzzy guitars and a prominent role for atmospheric keyboards. It's not fully a 'wall of sound', but the continually present keyboards and tremolo guitars do aproximate it. Together with the raspy vocals that were so typical for the third wave of black metal, they create an atmospheric spherical soundscape; with clear direction, perhaps slightly simplistic overall, but not bereft of subtleties. For example, often the keyboards play along with the guitar lines, yet they occasionally deviate to add deph to the soundscape.

It's clear that Covenant took elements from Satyricons early works, although Satyricon didn't have the keyboard sound so thick over the whole of the music. Both Covenant and early Satyricon had the fuzzy tremolo guitars, and at the same time acoustic-sounding guitars coming forward at times. The soundscape is built on the interplay and repetition of the riffing.

However, to compare ITBTL outright to Dark Medieval Times would do injustice to the album. Overall, for a band that used too much keyboards for the like of the hardliners, the atmosphere is quite well done compared to several third wave bands who started to (over)utilise synths.

If the album has a weakness, it's that several songs are not overly discernible from eachother. On the other hand, consistency is a plus here. Overall, it's a very likeable album, yet far from a great album in terms of originality.