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Masterpiece, Not a doubt in my Head - 100%

GodOfMalice, December 30th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Nuclear Blast

The Kovenant was one of the first bands I ever listened to when first getting into heavy metal, and for that on its own, I owe them major props. At some point in time I made a decision when buying one of my first albums, either choosing Acrania (thank the almighty deity I didn't), or the 3rd Kovenant album, Animatronic. I was instantly in love with the band, and sought to collect their entire discography of albums, yet it took me almost a year to procure this one. After collecting all of the band's albums, minus the remaster of their first, I can safely say that with each subsequent album comes an increment of quality overall, or at least to my taste. So based off that, I can safely say this is their best album, and without any doubt in my mind, this is my favorite album of all time, hands down.

If I could describe this album and/or how it makes me feel listening to it with a few words, I would pick 'Wonder', 'Interstellar', and 'Cosmic'. If there's one thing I appreciate in an album, it's atmosphere, and good gracious, this album radiates electronic visions and industrial illusions as if there's a nuclear tomorrow. I've seen issue been taken with the array of synthesizers and keyboards used heavily on this album, but I think they do nothing but add to the album in more than one way. To begin with, I adore how they sound, and project the sound of a dystopian future, filled to the brim with dead bodies of space and galactic dread. Not only do they nail the sound, but they complement the lyricism of techno nihilism and criticisms of humanity's reliance on media. The theme of space, galaxies, and cosmic existences other than our mortal plane, make this album feel so much more grand and immense. Whenever I listen to a track on this album, it feels as if I'm enclosed in a plastic shell, on tour of the grim future, with nothing but cyber connections, and abandoned machinery of advanced and grand proportions, with no use. They may overshadow the other instruments, but the simplicity of the drums, guitar and bass allow for more complex electronics, and don't clutter up the mix.

The tracks themselves are another achievement I can't help but congratulate. Sure it's impressive enough to make an album sound cool and atmospheric, but to then hold that consistently throughout the album, whilst also giving each song a distinct personality and tone, is downright fucking incredible. To be completely honest, this album and I'd say most of the songs didn't take to my liking or stand out on my first hearing, but after closer inspection, and various listenings, I found to appreciate every song. From the intergalactic warning-like intro of 'Cybertrash' challenging religious beliefs and values, to the radioactive ending of 'Industrial Twilight' where it calls out the charade of our lives, demanding reform, and feeling as if the air will be sucked right out of your lungs. And just as an honorable mention on its own, the track 'Neon' feels heavily influenced by more folk and middle eastern elements, whilst incorporating those in the electronics, culminating in an excellent track. And while every track has elements and moments worth mentioning, explaining them all would be a disservice without a lexicon to fully explain why their amazing, just go listen to them, as every track is catchy and memorable in their own rite.

Nagash tones down the intensity on his vocals, offering more industrial/gothic drones rather than the viscous sneer on earlier albums. At first I was turned off by the change in vocals, but I've come to appreciate how well they fit the music, and the fact that he still provides some more rough vocals here and there. There are additional vocals offered as soprano delivered by the lovely Eileen Kupper, and she gives a beautiful performance, offering a more soft yet firm backing vocal style to accompany Nagash.

With every piece of praise I've given this album, i still find it an injustice that i cannot put into words how good i find this album. It somehow feels like a part of my past and my future at the same time, and inspires me to find more music such as itself. The Kovenant is still listed as 'Active' as of 2018, and though I've heard teasers and rumors of a 5th Kovenant full-length, entitled 'Aria Galactica', being in development hell for well over a decade, I can't ever see it coming out. If SETI were to be a final album, then I'd be perfectly fine with that, and in a way, I kind of want it to stay that way, instead of another album muddling the increments of majesty. BUT, if Aria Galactica lived up to the standard of electronic/industrial metal that SETI set, then that would be out of this world.

Galaxies glitter in the black night sky. - 60%

Diamhea, February 24th, 2014

Long ago I tried giving The Kovenant's (Actually Covenant at that point) Nexus Polaris a fair shake. I recall it being an overstretched, bloated heap of intemperance with exhausting compositions to boot. Five years later, and after the whirlwind of chaos involving a forced name change along with a massive stylistic paradigm shift, The Kovenant brought us the enigmatic S.E.T.I..

I can't necessarily tell you what S.E.T.I.'s ambitions were at the time of it's release, but I can certainly tell you where it ends up. This is Deathstars with less appealing electronic textures. Despite the normally well-deserved scorn, Deathstars at the very least has the skilled Emil Nödtveidt crafting their catchy synth barrages. There are certainly a lot of keyboards here as well, but they rarely do more than simply exist. They just stab away in the background, content to defer to Arnesen's robotic droning and the occasional bursts of more spirited riffing passages. From a metal standpoint, The Kovenant can do little more than summon a simple beat-driven groove sequence like during the intro of "Acid Theatre". Svensson's dessicated riffs sound meaty enough, but are always delivered in such a trite, churning manner that they can't help but hit a brick wall when the band tries to gather itself for a more concerted sonic assault like during the verses of "Via Negativa". They are always in the stop-start vein that precludes the accretion of anything even approaching tension. As such, they crunch away in the foreground in a failed attempt at adding extremity to the entire ordeal.

Being an electronically-driven album, S.E.T.I features multiple percussive layers that can often be difficult to dissect. Hellhammer's talents are largely wasted here, but a more extreme drum performance would probably take away from the band's one true strength, which is the occasional groovier passages that sporadically surface. The kit sounds cavernous and organic, with deep reverberating toms alongside a relatively untouched snare sound. The gabber-influenced distorted bass drops that are strategically layered over the kit help add some diversity, but also distract as much as they enthrall. In the end it does little but amplify the fact that the approach is just fatally flawed at it's core. Fellow Norwegians Dimension F3H manage to join chest-pounding death metal passages with catchy futuristic synths, so why can't The Kovenant pull it off?

Arnesen sounds decent enough, I guess. He reminds me of Deathstars at times, which again is kind of neither here nor there from a metalhead's perspective. He certainly has the ersatz delivery down, which actually lifts the otherwise phoned-in cover of "The Memory Remains" from the void. Küpper also returns here from Animatronic, lending her operatic cleans and sounds absolutely sublime and otherworldly once set next to the twinkling synths.

S.E.T.I isn't a complete waste, with some of the isolated electronic sections demanding attention and evoking a very potent atmosphere. "Star by Star" is the real fluke of the album, featuring masterfully crafted programmed swells of strings and plucking leads. With the vocal contribution on this one kept to a minimum, it manages to clutch it's foreboding atmosphere close to it's chest and never lets it go. "Stillborn Universe" is also notably depressive, reminding me of Fiction-era Dark Tranquillity of all things. "Planet of the Apes" starts well enough and features a great programmed keyboard solo, but it is a little too schmaltzy to fully sell it's synthetic appeal in the end. The rest of the album simply meanders too much to ever really get going in any one direction. "Cybertrash" is a complete throwaway of an opener, and despite featuring more of the great romantic keyboard textures present on "Star by Star", "Subtopia" is let down by the lack of a clear direction or purpose.

I can clearly go on, but the point is made. The only song I have ever heard off of Animatronic was "Mirrors Paradise", which still had enough of a metal heart present to appeal to the heavier end of the spectrum. The Kovenant clearly lost that in the time between their quasi-debut and S.E.T.I., which just can't figure out what it wants to be in the end.

'All men will be cremated equal.' - 96%

GoatDoomOcculta, August 3rd, 2008

Despite their limited number of releases (and the fact that only two are any good), The Kovenant has always been one of my favorite bands. They're what inspired me to look into industrial music in general, and with Animatronics and SETI, they make for the perfect gateway band for metalheads to begin the transition from black metal to industrial. While Animatronics remains the epitome of black metal-influenced industrial, SETI represents the band's transition from their metal roots to a much more pure industrial sound, while still retaining a shitload of metal headbangability and just general greatness.

SETI has an extremely electronic sound to it, with focus on "metal". While Animatronics was still centered on down-tuned guitars, misanthropic dejection, and anti-Christianity, SETI is more "nuclear", so to speak. This is apocalyptic music for those who find church burning to be just as romantic and idealized as gas masks. And best of all, it's fucking catchy.

While a lot of industrial metal falls into the same trap that many straight-up industrial falls into - that of unmemorable songs that all sound relatively uninteresting and depressingly similar to one another - The Kovenant, particularly with SETI, has always been capable of packing their albums full of distinctly unique songs that somehow manage to never get old. From the cyberpunk-esque openers "Cybertrash" and "Planet of the Apes", to the slower, detached-sounding "Star By Star" and "Neon", to the misanthropic "Via Negativa" or the nuclear funeral dirging "Industrial Twilight", every single song on SETI is an individual masterpiece in and of itself. There's more variety on this album than you can shake a stick at, and yet, it doesn't sound at all gimmicky, and it never feels like it's just a bunch of unfinished ideas smashed together and called a CD.

The clear, gothic female vocals from Animatronics are gone and replaced with a much more industrial, almost robotic-sounding girl occasionally. Lex and Psy contribute almost equal parts to the lead male vocals throughout the album, and the variety they inject, as well as Lex's incredible range, is nothing short of incredible. If the synth-laden guitars weren't so unbelievably catchy, the wide array of excellent vocals presented on SETI would easily steal the show. Fortunately, this is not the case, and with great vocals come even better guitars and keys. Anyone who likes their music catchy - SETI is an album for you. There's no repetitive UNCE UNCE UNCE nonsense as people seem to expect from any sort of industrial music, and there's no obnoxious technical wankery from the guitars. There's just well-written solos and bridges, and again a shitload of variety. Any given piece on this album is quite capable of getting stuck in your head. Toes will tap. Choruses will be hummed days after listening.

With an album so all-around spectacular, it's impossible to focus on any part in particular for a review. There's something for everyone here - fast tracks, slow tracks, long tracks, short tracks, anti-religious tracks, cyberpunk tracks, dirging apocalyptic tracks - if you're a fan of any sort of extreme metal, you'll find at least a portion of SETI is tailored specifically to your tastes, with a lot of industrial kick added to spice it up for you. Regardless, my personal favorites on the album are the fast-paced nihilistic "Via Negativa" and the slower, down-tuned closing dirge "Industrial Twilight".

Strongly recommended for virtually anyone who enjoys any sort of industrial or industrial-influenced music at all, fans of black metal, and anyone looking for something unlike anything they've heard before.

Guilty pleasure - 70%

The_Ghoul, August 2nd, 2008

I have decided to rewrite because I found that S.E.T.I. kept reappearing on my playlist, and although I acknowledged that at its core, this is based off of shitty nurock like Linkin Park. I *SHOULDN'T* like this. But goddamnit I do. I have, at the bottom, included the previous version of the review, just so the reader could see how much my opinion changed. However, the reason I have included it is because, in a way, everything I said was completely correct. This IS a musically inferior sibling to Animatronics.

But goddamn this album is catchy. The electronics, for their pretentiousness, are done exquisitely, with a galaxy (haha) assortment of various synths, samples, and various noises. The drumming is narcoleptically simpler than the last album, sure, but it doesn't matter somehow. And the presence of tambourines doesn't seem to affect this album, either. The real strength that gives S.E.T.I. power is how shamelessly catchy the songs are, and this is best evident in songs like Acid Theater or Via Negativa. However, there is a hidden side of this album, poignant despite being maudlin and schmaltzy, that manages to evoke emotions and slight hollowness in me, which is best shown in songs like Keepers of the Garden, Pantomime, or (if you have the bonus tracks) Subtopia. On these songs, it's almost like it's being told from the point of view of someone mourning a dying world, with all hope and optimism about the future leftover from Animatronics goes and dies.

At the core, it all goes back to how catchy these songs are -- they are easily dance-able, and filled with such obvious hooks and pop choruses that it really hammers home what prevents S.E.T.I., however, from being truly as special as Animatronics was, and forever condemns itself to being a guilty pleasure. The energy, passion, and drive are gone, replaced by an almost emo/nu-ish angst. It's cheesy, and lovable once you stop taking it seriously, but it does hinder the music. The lack of real aggression in the guitars does hold this album back, since, as I said when I first wrote a review for this album, the guitars mostly go chugga-chuggy and that leaves pretty much Lex Icon's singing and the keyboards/electronics to carry this album, since neither the drums nor bass do anything of importance, as well.

So in the end, is this the terrible abomination I originally thought it to be? No. It's very catchy, and I frequently find myself singing "All the lies, they feed to you, what you see is what you do, monkey me and monkey you" when that song is playing. Yeah, the lyrics have a tendency to the dumbed down, but I don't care. This is a guilty pleasure through and through, though, and something I know I shouldn't like and something that really doesn't deserve a whole lot of praise, but it finds a way into my playlists all the time and I now must say that I definitely like this album a lot. It has a couple clunkers like "The Perfect End" but it's still worth a few listens.

Now, again, to illustrate how much my opinion on this album has changed, while my pragmatic opinion hasn't changed much (I don't describe it too differently than before), here is my older review, unedited.

"I tried to like this. I really did. I liked everything the band did from In Times Before the Light and Nexus Polaris (under Covenant) and Animatronics and the re-recorded In Times Before the Light (under The Kovenant). But S.E.T.I. sucks, period.

I never thought it was possible for a band from the Norwegian Black metal scene could make something as crappy as this (except Dimmu). This is still industrial metal, but it's not the same as the ingenius Animatronics. Whereas Animatronics still had the same fire as Nexus Polaris, the same headbangability, the same metalness, S.E.T.I. sounds like some crappy Linkin Park ripoff. Animatronics had spirit, Animatronics was an oddball combo of industrial and metal that would go well with satanic robots. S.E.T.I. is more downtempo and the guitar riffs are the typical rap-inspired chugga-chugga riffs that you hear in every Korn and Linkin Park ripoff. The lazy, laid back drumming is a far cry from the energetic beatings of Hellhammer, and the riffs going on top of it aren't dissimilar to songs like One Step Beyond by Linkin Park and Got the Life by Korn. As much as remembering those songs conjures up an involuntary puking mechanism, it's the only comparison I can make. Simple power chords with that lazy chugging that grates on your nerves. Simple power chords with rap inspired phrasing. I half expected Lex Icon to start rapping. Yeah, it's that bad.

However, don't get the impression that the singing is bad. It's not. It was much better than I expected. It's the music behind it that is crap. It should work, honestly. It's just that it's executed in every wrong way possible. It's now a parody, a sillhouette, a mere shadow of past Kovenant. Everything Kovenant/Covenant did in the past is done wrong here. The guitar riffs, which used to be ingenious, are insipid and uninspired. The keyboards, which used to be brilliant classically inspired noodlings, are now lazy hooks that are most likely looped. The drums, which used to be energetic militaristic but flowing attacks, now lazily plod around with the energy of a slug. The vocals are honestly the only thing not wrong with S.E.T.I.. They're different than past efforts, yes, and more industrial inspired, yes, but they're not bad. It's everything else. This gets 15 for the vocals and a 0 on everything else. There's a new guitarist, too, but you can't tell that Angel is here, because he spends most of his time overdubbing Psy's guitars anyway. How odd that the album where they get a second guitarist is the album that a second guitarist is not needed."

I expected better from them. - 52%

Roufus, March 17th, 2007

There aren't enough synonyms for 'disapointed'.
I bought this album blindly. It's Kovenant after all, the same ones who brought us the brilliant black metal albums In Times Before Light and Nexus Polaris. But no matter how many times I tell myself not to buy an album blindly, I keep doing it. Why? Becuase I'm an idiot.

Kovenant switched gears on Animatromics to a more electronic sound, but it was still incredible. With the album cover, I figured it would be more kin to their third album, which I was dying to hear more of.

Boy was I wrong.
Granted there is still an industrial type sound, SETI isn't in the same vein as Animatromics. This is more like something Marylin Manson would concoct, if he had talent. The melodies have this American angst quality found in a lot of this brooding post-NIN relevance age we find ourselves in. It's atrocious. I can't believe these are the same people who made the three previous albums that I love so much. Lex's strained screams are gone, and in its place a typical quasi-gothic singing style that's meant to invoke thoughts of depression and hopelessness. It made me depressed, but only because as each song progressed I was hit with the reality that the album wasn't going to pick up anywhere. It was truly like this all the way through. One or two songs would be excusable. But this? No.

That being said, I cannot give this album a review lower than a 50. For this style, even though abysmal, it's actually top notch quality. Angel and Blackheart's guitar work are spot on and well executed throughout each song. Some of the riffs are, dare I say it, memorable. In another universe, where I'm perpetually a depressed gothic fourteen year old, this might possibly be my favorite cd This whole subgenre of music, typically filled with trite teen angst garbage, longs for someone who actually knows how to write a decent song. This succeeds immensely. Of all the awful gothic industrial cd's out there, this rises to the top easily. The band is incredibly talented, and has proven to me that there can actually be quality in this style of music.

I still sold it the next day.

The Kovenant surprises again - 98%

Lex_Icon, November 18th, 2003

When I read an interview in which Lex Icon told they have gone two or three steps further this time, he couldn't be more exactly. Seti is their most ambitious album, if Animatronic were completely different from the previous album, with Seti the trend continues.
And this is good because they really don't care about the so many genres that infest the Metal scene, they continue their evolution and have created an unique sound.
If you are a typical headbanger, black metaller, don't even try to listen to this album, the eletronic stuff here is much more evident than before, and this is not for narrow minded people who judge a band by the clothes thy wear or just for using "non-conventional" sounds.
In this album Lex is trying some clean vocals, which is very fine, cause the musics presented here could not be performed just by screams. I really like when he screams but this album is much more ample, and allow him to try it.
It's really hard to choose just one song to mention as the best one, but Via Negativa is an amazing song which really shows all the elements they are using now, is a perfect song to describe the album, some slow songs like Stillborn Universe should be mentioned too. It's an album to be listened from the beginning to the end, there is no bad tracks.
In the limited version there is a cover for The Memory remains which is amazing.
The lyrics are great too, you just won't like them if you're a christian or some religious person, but they are not just about the religion stuff. Evolution, human stupidity are some other themes, and of course, space.
The female singer is here again, and once again she's doing an extraordinary job.
If you like Metal, and like some eletronic and industrial influences this is the one you should have. The future is here!

Very good...only a few lame things... - 80%

BoomStick, September 27th, 2003

"The Kovenant," also known as, "Covenant," Brought their heavier, more industrial style with their album Animatronic. Their second full-length release, "S.E.T.I," has several excellent tracks, and has much more of an Industrial sound then Animatronic had.

With many well flowing sections it almost sounds like a techno or disco type album; luckily some heavy riffs remind us of how great, "The Kovenant,” are. Several songs could have been made better by having better lyrics and a little heavier sound. Tracks such as Acid Theatre are lacking big ripping guitars that as seen in past Kovenant, usually deliver the great catchy riffs. Other tracks like Keepers of the Garden are heavier but sound messed up...Too much distortion...sounds like they messed up the recording. The track, "Cyber trash," has lame lyrics, because too me the word Cyber trash sounds like something a child might say, especially considering The Kovevant's usual vocals.

My only other problem with this album is that there are two main different sounding vocalists; they work good for a few songs but they are the same in every single song.

Now for the highlights. "Neon" is a brilliant track, one of the best songs of all time, (I bought the album because of it!) Planet of the Apes is a good song... although the lyrics seem a bit odd, "Monkey see and monkey do,"??? Although Cyber Trash and Keepers of the garden aren’t perfect they are still very good songs.

I am looking forward too, "The Kovenant's," next album; I am expecting good things (wink). I recommend this album, its not perfect but it is still a very good album. If you like Industrial/space age metal you will love this album

Thanks Boomstick

A bit more refined than Animatronic - 90%

OSheaman, July 15th, 2003

This second album of The Kovenant shows the band settling a bit more into the style of their new sound, although Hellhammer's leaving probably indicates his dissatisfaction with the very small part the drums play in the music. The vocals aren't nearly as annoying as in Animatronic, and overall the album is pretty damn good.

I'm going to get this out of the way right now, because apparantly there's still some confusion: THIS ALBUM IS NOT BLACK METAL. If you want Black Metal, you want Covenant, which is what this band was before legal issues forced them to change their name to The Kovenant. Go get Nexus Polaris or In Times Before the Light, both of which are awesome fucking Black Metal albums.

Now, for the rest of you, we have the Industrial/Space/Electronic sound of The Kovenant, which could be pretty accurately summed up as Trance with guitars. Now, I must confess that I actually like some music besides metal *gasp*, and that includes Trance. Therefore, I think this album is pretty damn cool. You might not. That's what opinions are all about.

Anyway, the strong riffs of Animatronic are back again here, but this time the electronic influence is much, much higher. Much of the rhythm is provided electronically (and I suppose I don't blame Hellhammer, since that would piss me off, too) and little industrial sounds are present throughout the album. Nagash (I refuse to call him Lex Icon) has progressed into a more Doom Metal vocal style, which goes really well with the music.

The best song on here is Planet of the Apes, which is a very intense song that is perhaps the closest to being Black Metal. The riffs are strong, the drums are rocking, and the chorus is pretty damn cool. The Perfect End is almost the exact opposite, being heavily electronic and more doom-ish in tempo, though it is also very well done. Pantomime is another Black-ish song, while Cybertrash sounds a bit more like Trance than metal. All the songs have different styles, and the album never really gets boring.

As I have constantly said, if you don't like electronic music then you won't like this. For those who like both Trance and Black/Doom metal, this album is a must. It's a very innovative sound that is definitely worth the money.