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Industrial Cheese?

United States Of Mind

Having just sort of gotten back into the new industrial movement (which admittingly isn't exactly that new) with VNV Nation, it was also suggested to me that I check out a group called Covenant. Hailing from Sweden, they have a fair amount in common with the aforementioned group, but they also have pushed their sound to an even more synthpop edge with this release than on their previous ones.

While I mentioned Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 as influences and references for the sound of VNV Nation, I would even go so far as to say that a lot of the tracks on this release by Covenant sound like they could have come from a Pet Shop Boys album on steroids. There are multi-part male vocals that sometimes sound like they were pulled from a goth track, while at other times sound like they're trying to mimic Kraftwerk in an almost mechanical tone.

One need look no further than the very first track on the disc to get an idea of the sound. While it starts out with a rather dry, hugely thumping beat, eventually some synth strings and vox parts are layered over and it gets even more mellowed out with the addition of smooth vocals that resemble David Gahan of Depeche Mode. The album really gets going on the second track entitled "No Man's Land." With a high BPM and a smooth techno feel, the track with minimal lyrics should get you moving if you have any pulse at all. The third track is where the group really changes up the feel of things, however, and depending on how well you stomach lighter synthpop will depend on how fast you push the skip button on your CD player. With rather cheesy lyrics set to a very mainstream sounding slow-groove synth track, it's the most unexciting track on the entire release.

The group doesn't get very much harder on the next track, either, although "Helicopter" is more interesting to listen to with its odd, loping light pad drum machine beat and chanted lyrics. Fortunately, the group goes back to more of a harsh edge on "Tour De Force," and although they once again bury the harder beat under lighter elements as the song progresses, it still shows they can write a super-catchy track. Before the album finishes with the 4-minute track of complete silence (the aptly titled "You Can Make Your Own Music"), the group goes through a couple more mid-tempo tracks (including the strangely 80's sounding "Dead Stars (version)") and one possibly the best track on the disc in "One World One Sky." Like the aforementioned "No Mans Land," it has very little vocals, but they're effective and the song is an absolute dancefloor burner.

In the end, I feel very up and down about this disc. While there are several tracks that I find myself listening to over and over, the album as a whole isn't as consistent as others that I've heard in the genre (like VNV Nations Empires) and the lighter songs have a much more mainstream feel to them. While it's probably more synthpop than industrial, it has a little bit of crunch in some of the tracks, just don't expect to feel like getting any aggression out while listening to it.

Rating: 6