Coven - Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls - Akarma
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 31 March 2017
Music review of the Coven Album Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls on Severed Cinema http://severedbloodlines.com/severed-cinema/images/music/coven/coven-band-logo.jpg

Band: Coven
Album: Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls
Members: 'Jinx' Dawson (Vocals) Jim Donlinger (Guitars,Vocals) 'Oz' Osburne (Bass) Rick Durrett (Keyboards) Jim Nyeholt (Organ) John Hobbs (Piano) Steve Ross (Drums)
Year: 1969
Country: USA
Produced by: Bill Traut
Cover Art: Jerry Griffith
Mastering: Universal Recording Corporation, Chicago Illinois
Runtime: 43min 12sec

Label: Akarma
Official Website: fb.com/TheOfficialCoven

Track Listing:
1. Black Sabbath
2. White Witch of Rose Hall
3. Coven in Charring Cross
4. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
5. Pact With Lucifer
6. Choke, Thirst, Die
7. Wicked Woman
8. Dignitaries of Hell
9. Portrait
10. Satanic Mass

In 1969, an LP dropped which smacked a totally unprepared musical world in the face. An era of tunes where anything could happen and talents made music just to make music, whether they sold ten or ten thousand copies. Coven, meanwhile, had something to say to their audience, and they said it regardless the consequences (which unfortunately they would soon regret with a lot of outcries and banning of their records).

These were the days when Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan were rising. The image of Satanism was indeed changing for many people when they took the time to actually have a look. Coven blasted out of Chicago and set themselves up as the first official Satanic Rock Band. Fronted by the intense voice of Esther 'Jinx' Dawson, Coven were different.

Track one on Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, titled Black Sabbath is a highly descriptive story based conception which sounds like something Iron Maiden would have banged out had they existed in that year. “Jinx” Dawson sounds absolutely incredible on this track, certainly earning the band the label, 'Satanic Jefferson Airplane' as many state. “Old hags murmur in evil ranting, Voices grow louder and join the chanting, Infant's flesh they did offer, For the prince to devour....” whilst the music begins rather mellow, it speeds up after the halfway mark changing via a quick stomping breakdown. Afterwards, White Witch of Rose Hall offers another story (I was reminded very much of a King Diamond ideology throughout the LP but without the concept theme). This song is based on a tale from Jamaica and musically is so upbeat. Jinx's voice, again, is perfection, especially her guttural growls now and then and her almost classical sounding cries.

“Thirteen cultists, held a secret meeting....” begins the haunting third song, Coven In Charring Cross. A nice acoustic guitar and a simple drum pattern, then one minute in, the music halts and the band chant like a Satanic sermon, “They are the seven! Seven are they! Out of the Abyss they rise! When day sinks into darkness...” after which the music and story continues. In fact, this song transforms constantly throughout. From harpsichord, to guitar, a beautiful swaying melody, “Male they are not, female they are not...” thus quotes the second Sermon. “Look into her magic eyes, She can see through your disguise...” a funked up rocking out tale of Witchcraft envelopes the track For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which is a more vocal harmony between other members of the band, which has the chorus; “The witch is burning on the hill, They left her there for fire to kill. You can hear her screaming still....”

Pact With Lucifer, is one of the outstanding songs. Sounding like, musically, it could have rested easily on The Who's Tommy album, whilst it tells the tale of a farmer who is down on his luck and makes a deal with Lucifer. It is outstanding in its descriptions. The ending when Lucifer returns years later to claim the soul which was promised feels like a film and the beauty of Jinx's voice almost brings tears of joy to your eyes as you're lost in the atmosphere. The album reaches another high with one of their most famous songs, Wicked Woman, an up-tempo foot stomping danceable swooping classic.

Each song is punctuated by wonderful guitar harmonies and sometimes an organ. They sound like early Doors in a lot of places and carry a tremendous mood through every track. So bloody '60s!! No more so than the awesome, Portrait (sampled by USA Horror Hip Hop fella, Necro) with its intelligent lyrics and its slowed down almost beautiful and certainly well thought out, musical arrangements. Portrait is far too short, you need more afterwards! (1.15 in and listen to that simple but engaging guitar plucking).

The album ends with a lengthy Black Mass which goes on over ten minutes. This one causes a lot of discussions between Satanic groups. Some think this is a comical almost movie like scenario whilst others say it is a reconstruction of a true Mass. In Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible, the rules are there and are very different to the Satanism seen in movies (aside from the documentary Satanis, my review is here). In all honestly, this finale to the album probably existed only to freak out any hippies who were smoking and lounging around the floor listening.

Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls is a tightly woven well rounded affair and the band mellowed out for their next releases. They never really reached this peak again, becoming a group which sounded like many others. After all the controversy and the hellabaloo surrounding their dιbut, maybe they decided to lay low for a bit. The third album, Blood on the Snow, is (to my ears) just dire, but at least the powers that be approved. Fast forward to 2013, and the band – a lot older and wiser, returned to their chaotic satanic selves with a new album called, Jinx. They still sell, they are still relevant in the underground, and their classic dιbut holds a new audience year after year.

A lot of people do think that, after hearing this album, it undoes a lot of Ozzy and Black Sabbath, since their sounds are so similar to Coven. The same people feel deflated quite upon this realisation. Coven were so original and confrontational in their views and their masterful building of their crafts. This could possibly be the first 'metal' album, certainly a great stepping stone in satanic music. Dark Folk Music? Dark Rock? Whilst an army of Black Metal bands sound as if they are camels gurgling in buckets of vomit whilst fast grinding guitars stab through your speakers, let us realise, Lucifer is a lover of fine things. Fine food, drink, and fine music. Coven probably made music which would reach his dark heart far more than a group of beer swilling leather wearing lads chatting about Satan as they rip their throats and mess up their drum skins.

 

 

 RATING:
 ALBUM: 1 
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Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 )