The Covenant

Album Title: 
The Story Of Bloody S. Cash Part 1 And 2 of 3
Release Date: 
Monday, September 30, 2013
Review Type: 

Okay, just to make things perfectly clear, this is about the Dutch band The Covenant. They are not to be confused with the Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal act The Covenant Band, who hailed from Toronto (Ontario, Canada), released only a 1982 single, and who split a long time since! They are also not to be confused with the Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal act Covenant, which was founded in 1993 and changed its name (and musical direction, toward Industrial Metal) in 1999 to The Kovenant (name under which they released 5 albums so far). Last but not least, confusion should be avoided with the Helsingborg based Swedish electronics act known as Covenant. Founded in 1986, that act released its 8th studio album just recently.

So...what about this Amsterdam based Dutch band, eh? Shock me, as I just recently found out this PowerPop act, which today consists of original members Frank van der Reep (vocals) and Peter Stap (bass), alongside guitarist Hans Koomans (originally joined the band as its Hammond organ player in 1999) and drummer Chris Heemskerk (joined in 1997, replacing original drummer Ferry Eden) has been around for 25 years already! In that time, the band went through a musical progression, starting off with Classic Hard Rock alà Deep Purple and Bad Company, then (according to the reviewers at the time) moving into something more Poppy alà The Tragically Hip, and today apparently still compared to the music of The Cult, Alice In Chains, The Doors, and Danzig. A rather diverse lot to be likened to, but then I guess it depends on which part any one reviewer picks out to recognize.

As far as releases are concerned, the band made its first demo (controversially entitled IV) in 1990, and follow it up with their debut full-length Colours For The Blind the year after. Positive reviews and interviews follow, as well as a support show for The Tragically Hip. 1992 follows, as do two support shows for Pearl Jam, and 1993 sees the birth of the sophomore full-length Addicted, which gets even better critical appraisal than the debut. But 3rd album Looking For The Queen Of Lowlife exceeds the first two albums even more, with 25,000 copies being distributed by music magazine Watt, resulting in the band being asked to play everywhere, both within Holland, and abroad (Poland, Greece, Canada), and even being played on American College radio. 1996 sees the band return to the studio to record its 4th full-length Seven Little Prayers, which is unanimously seen as the band's best by the music magazines. Eventually, the onslaught of the increased life on the road makes the original drummer decide to leave at the end of that year. New drummer Chris goes on stage with the band after only 8 rehearsals, and turns out to be a real asset to the band.

Pushed by the fans, and the band's own wish to record their “underground” atmosphere of their gigs, the band then mixes the material of two consecutive nights' gigs (using no overdubs, and therefore still displaying small mistakes made) for the near 70-minute live album The Original Covenant (Live!), released in 1997. Detail : recording engineer for those nights was Hans Koomans, whom was asked later on by then guitarist Jurgen Hoogendoorn whether he didn't know of an available Hammond organ player. I'm afraid that's as far as the band's history, as related at the band's own (www.), I ain't sure what happened after, but it should be clear that at some point in the new millenium Jurgen threw in the towel, his role as guitarist being taken over by Hans. Also, it would take the band quite a long time to return with a new album, it's sixth album Welcome To The Real World surfacing only in October of 2008. The album, by the way, was the first showcase of a further progression in the band's sound, this time towards a PowerPop direction which nevertheless still had influences from the band's old days.

And now there's this new album, relating the conceptual story of this manic singer-songwriter calling himself Bloody S. Cash, whom comes up with a “brilliant” plan ('a music career in crime') to make his obsession (making it in music) his job. Although very limited in musical talent, copy-catting from his favourite artists takes him quite a way, but the man's darker side (say, criminal tendencies) give the story an unavoidable twist in a very early stage of the story. According to the info page we got along with a copy of the album, one will hear influences of the likes of Alice In Chains, Elvis Presley, The Cult, Roy Orbison, Nick Cave, Masters Of Reality, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Depeche Mode, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, The Stray Cats, Status Quo, Van Halen, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Black Keys in either the texts, music, or sound of this album...a statement to which I largely agree. Hard to believe? Well, I ain't the only on to say so, you know, as showcased by what Dutch music magazine Oor wrote about the The Covenant in 2008: “...The band exceeds references to styles and genres, but simply offers the best ever produced in Pop's history...”

To have you get acquainted with their new album, the band posted no less than the complete “Part 1” of the album (consisting of 8 of the 15 songs) in the form of videos on their own website (you may have to search about a bit – I actually found it by checking the site's “Old Stuff” section). November 9th of last saw the band kick off its Escape From Mental Care tour in promotion of the album, a tour which should keep the band on its toes, and several stages, until the middle of 2014 (for data, check the band's website). With some luck, you might entice the band to come play in your neighborhood. I mean, for the promotion of their previous album, the guys only needed a 40-person petition to answer ositively to their The Covenant In Your Space project (again, check out the band's website for details on that!). Meanwhile, the end conclusion is, that this is a band well worth checking out, either on its webspace, on actual album, ànd in live conditions (from what I read, they put up one heck of a show!).