Perhaps one of the most obscure and yet most legendary cult metal releases from the 1980s, Worship New Gods by Coven (or Coven 13, if you wish) was originally released in vinyl only in 1987, but, courtesey of Shadow Kingdom, it has now been reissued in CD format. And I, for one, am more than grateful, because this is really a unique heavy metal release that deserves much more exposure.
Stylistically, the music on this album falls somewhere between traditional heavy metal and doom metal. But, for a metal album released in 1987, it is considerably primitive – or should I say primal – and free of all the commercialism that started to infest mainstream metal at the time. The riffage is often simple and even punky at times, as is the case of tracks like 'Threshold of the New' and 'Ruler', while tracks like 'Riddle of Steel' and the Mercyful Fate-inspired 'Kiss Me With Blood' are decidedly doomy, combining the primitive doom rock of Pentagram with the more elaborate doom metal of Candlemass. Even the ballad 'Wicked Day' and the uptempo punk-metal combo that is 'Jail House' are dark and ominous in atmosphere. Combining the rawness associated with the likes of Helhammer/Celtic Frost with the doomsday feel of Black Sabbath and Pentagram and infusing the cult atmosphere of Mercyful Fate into this mixture, Coven sound like a less sloppy Hellhammer, a less doomy version of Pentagram, and a less complex Mercyful Fate on this album – all of this comes together in a primitive and unique – and very compelling (once you get your head around it) – sound that no-one will ever be able to emulate.
The vocals have a semi-operatic feel to them at times, but simultaneously characterized by wonderful 80s kitsch (the good kind of 80s kitsch, that is). The musicianship is definitely not bad, but Coven have emphasized mood and expression over precision and technicality, which must have bee nrefreshing back in 1987, seen against the backdrop of polished glam and pop metal. And, yes, it is also refreshing today, seen against the backdrop of the polished and hyper-technical stuff that dominates parts of the metal scene today.
Fans of authentic cult 80s metal should not hesitate to invest in this doom-meets-metal-meets-punk classic. If you like your Helhammer, Pentagram, Brats, and Mercyful Fate, then chances are that you will like Coven's Worship New Gods, too.
1. Riddle of Steel
2. Wicked Day
4. Kiss Me with Blood
5. Burial Ground
6. General's Eye
7. Jail House
8. Threshold of the New