|Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Self-release, Shadow Kingdom Records
1987 / June 23rd, 2012
Release length: 42:26
Obviously, since this was independently released back in 1987, the audio quality isn’t expected to be the greatest. But, surprisingly, this private release holds up for its time period. The guitars have a slight muffled analog sound, but overall have a decent clarity and heaviness to them, as well as a slight echo. The bass is rather loud and easy to pick up on, catering to sound commonly associated to NWOBHM bands that really uses the instrument to drive the rhythm forward. The drums are pretty impressive as well thanks to the natural sound on the cymbals that allows them to ring out normally, the snares have a strong echo against a deeper sound, and the bass kicks carry a thud that can get lost in the mix, but still works with the bass guitar’s input. The vocals abuse the echo on the clean performance to the point where, half the time, it conflicts with the note that is attempted to be carried, having to hear the same word a good three to four times before finally fading out. This is far better suiting for the spoken word narrations that occur on the start of “Wicked Day” and “Loki.” They often are at the forefront of the mix, and even louder towards the end, but once in a while end up drowned out on certain songs and passages.
Unfortunately, the vocals are mostly what hurt the album, and not just for the echo effect. When handled in a lower tone, the singing sounds pretty good, but during enthusiastic moments you can easily hear them going off key horribly. The echo doesn’t help any either, making it hard to concentrate on the lead vocals and not the alteration that in no way matches the pitch needed. However, musically, this is a pretty strong album with a nice mixture of Heavy Metal and Doom Metal ideas, though the first outshines the latter greatly. “Riddle of Steel” starts with your introduction to the horrible echo effects and a decent vocal performance against some catchy slower paced Doom Metal. The chorus finds a richer performance that masks the echo a little better, and the guitar solo that hits really sets up a creepy tone for a short amount of time. It’s songs and moments like these that really stand out, and “Wicked Day” really proves it. The quicker, upbeat Heavy Metal moments of the song are not bad at all, but again that’s the music. Vocally, they find a shift from the more powerful clean singing to a nasal approach that often sounds off unless with a bit of heat on the voice like what appears towards the end of the track. Sadly, the guitar solo here seems like it would work, but due to the recording quality it sounds as off as the singing can be.
“Kiss Me With Blood” is a good song all around, though this is where the singing does start to change for those worst. The performance suits what the band is going for, but the pitch being hit is just all over the place, and sometimes the repetitive and simple lyrics will come off as mumbled to the point of near-gibberish. “General’s Eye” has some really catchy material, as well as some powerful and faster paced traditional Heavy Metal with enough subtle hooks that leave an epic vibe wide open. Sadly, the vocals don’t quite capitalize on it, and at times suffer the same fate as with “Kiss Me With Blood,” but the chorus is enough to instantly grab the listener. The harsher push in the singing gives it a slight Mercyful Fate feel among the obvious Iron Maiden influences, and the guitar solo that kicks in when things slow down is fantastic. It’s just too bad there’s singing over it, even though it does seem to fit. “Loki” features plenty of vocal distortions and epic builds as well amid an off-the-wall offering with over-dramatic vocals. When you can look at this track as more of a nightmarish drug-induced hallucination, you’ll be able to better understand and appreciate it, especially given that Loki himself is the god of mischief, perfectly suiting the legend’s background.
For 2012, Shadow Kingdom Records put out an official factory pressing reissue of Worship New Gods. While it isn’t the first pressing of the album on disc, as there is a bootleg floating around somewhere, it’s perhaps the most professional. There hasn’t really been any alterations to the album, aside how some of the artwork is handled, but even that seems close enough to the original vinyl pressing. If you haven’t had the chance to check out either version, now is your chance to hear an otherwise buried Metal gem you probably never would have heard before, but at a reasonable price instead of the higher values you’ll pay on sites like eBay.
Worship New Gods is not something you are going to enjoy right off the bat, unless you can look past the faults in the vocal echoes and independently recorded flaws. When you can, you’ll understand why Coven has such a loyal following, as well as why they never took off. This isn’t a recording for someone who has a narrow mind on album productions, but one that requires an open one to look past the issues in order to appreciate it. There’s no denying the amount of talent and potential that hid behind the bad choices in the recording studio, and once you unearth it you’ll immediately earn a new respect for this effort, and the band. If you haven’t heard Worship New Gods yet, then now is the time, especially with Coven reformed, and hopefully the possibility of a follow-up recording at some point in our near future. With the 2012 reissue available through Shadow Kingdom Records, there’s really no reason to not take the time out and hear this underground gem you probably never even knew existed.
01. Riddle of Steel – 4:12
02. Wicked Day – 6:13
03. Ruler – 3:17
04. Kiss Me with Blood – 5:54
05. Burial Ground – 3:37
06. General’s Eye – 5:14
07. Jail House – 2:32
08. Threshold of the New – 8:02
09. Loki – 3:25
|Overall Score: 7/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by Shadow Kingdom Records via Clawhammer PR.