COVEN 13
"Destiny of the Gods"

(Shadow Kingdom )

01. Thor's Twins
02. Winds of Revelation
03. Elfstone
04. Walpurgisnacht
05. Isle of Man
06. Frost Giants
07. Witches Kiss
08. She Rides the Dawn
09. Solitary Days
10. Spellbound

RATING: 5.5/10

The Detroit-based metal troupe COVEN from the mid-Eighties is not to be confused with the more notable Seattle thrashers of the same name arriving shortly after these guys. Having originally hung up their leathers in the early nineties after releasing one album, "Worship New Gods", the renamed COVEN 13 reunited in 2011 to take another run.

Citing themselves as Nordic doom metal, nobody's really going to buy into the tag save for maybe the SABBATH-hiking "Walpurgisnacht" and the Thor lore spread throughout much their wobbly new album, "Destiny of the Gods". In actuality, COVEN 13 in sound is more about power rock and trad metal, i.e. JUDAS PRIEST and DEEP PURPLE, though they sound like them in theory, only.

Alas, this album is the little engine that stalls at the roundhouse despite the appreciable fact these guys have their hearts in the right place. What's positive about "Destiny of the Gods" is that the instrumental front line of guitarists Todd Kreda and Richie Karasinki plus bassist Roger Cyrkeil provide a doughty backbone for COVEN 13. Not all of the scratchy guitar solos are great, but some are hefty and there are a number of songs where Kreda and company riff the hell out of their spots, such as "Isle of Man", "Witches Kiss" and "Frost Giants", the latter actually reaching close to the boundaries of awesome.

Unfortunately, for all that is good in COVEN 13, vocalist David Landrum, is well, not. In snarl mode, Landrum can hang in there, barely. Landrum's having a goblin grog-sloshed time on this album, and it's his party, which means it's not even invitation-only. The only time he's genuinely invasive and not merely discordant is when he peels off a grotesque take of Ronnie James Dio on "Witches Kiss".

The first two tracks, "Thor's Twins" and "Winds of Revelation", are absolute messes from top-to-bottom, starting with Landrum's off-key caterwauling and trailing down to drummer Brian McGuckin's slacker beat patterns. "Winds of Revelation" is so hard to accept you're to be hardly blamed for bailing out on this album. However, McGuckin tightens up through the rest of the album (though he's a little off-target in spots on the poorly mixed "She Rides the Dawn") and at least the band's crunching riffs will help listeners roll through the way-long "Solitary Days" and a so-so cover of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES' "Spellbound".

If the rest of "Destiny of the Gods" was up to the pounding coolness of "Frost Giants", then COVEN 13 would have something to write home about. Unfortunately, writing home to 1986 finds the God of Thunder not swinging Mjolnir against those hulking lords of the rime, but being turned into a frog in Issue # 364 of "The Mighty Thor". Take that as you will.

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