Album-Review: Covenant – Leaving Babylon

A new release of a band we worship, when we started worshipping them as they were already a well-established band and had been so for the past 15 years, it is always a bit tricky. We are scared. Scared to lay our hands on this new thing, as if it was a fragile newborn baby, scared to open the booklet in case we find something we might not unconditionally love, scared to play it and not to fall in love with every second of every track.

This is exactly how I felt just before giving the first try to Leaving Babylon. But I did trust them, as I trusted them in the past to make me discover new mental and musical places I had never been before. And how right I was.

Leaving Babylon brings us under latitudes we haven’t discovered before through Covenant music. As Skyshaper made up a strangely floating urban atmosphere, and Modern Ruin painted quite a distinct picture through its colder, more northern ambiance, this is once again something slightly different and new, feeling like another first time. Doubtless the best adjective to qualify Covenant’s music is aerial, yet never has it been more accurate than on Leaving Babylon. For this album sounds like a break, a pause in time, to observe the bigger picture of life, our life, from above. From the sky. Seconds of beauty, of positive sonic energy (“Ignorance and Bliss”), of quiet pain and acceptance (“Not to be Here”), of the most aesthetic melancholy (“I Walk Slow”). Everything is there. Life, beauty, pain, energy, night. And we peacefully watch it all happen, from the skyline.

New dance floor anthems also see the light of day on this album, such as “Prime Movers” (oh, how much I’m hoping for an amazing remix of this song), “The Last Dance” of course, which is already an overplayed classic (and that’s a good thing), but also the very light “Ignorance and Bliss” (well… only musically light, I must say), and the dramatically electronic “Thy Kingdom Come”. So if I ever hear again that of Covenant you can only play “Dead Stars” and “Like Tears in the Rain” in clubs, I’m gonna start becoming ridiculously mean.

Of this album nothing is bad, and once again the Swedish act proves to be writing some of the most amazing lyrics of the entire scene. No clichés, no romantic codes or overheard lines. A single look at the titles of the tracks already gives a good hint that Covenant is not your average cheesy EBM band. Still enigmatic and odd, and always deeply moving while remaining exquisitely subtle, the lyrics play a good part in taking us somewhere higher; the words are like living pictures speaking for themselves, meaning a lot without always making obvious sense. Covenant write songs about what we feel more than we think, never using the big words, love and miss, survive or forever. 

“I walk slow, and I wanna waste time. I think twice, far behind this crowd”. 

This is subtility. This will get so much deeper, this will print an image in negative at the back of your brain, and never leave you.

Leaving Babylon is clever pain without ever sounding overacted or unnatural. And every listen is going to make you sink deeper and deeper into the atmosphere of this album, every listen you will understand a bit more. Oh but I won’t say this is one of the best Covenant albums. Simply because they have never released a single bad one.

Review by Marie Lando.