Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches – Covenant

Band: Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches
Title: Covenant
Label: Aural Music
Release Date: 08 November 2019
Country: USA
Format Reviewed: Digital download

Several weeks ago a promo album crossed my path that made me realize an auspicious event was soon to occur, namely that I would finally review something not released by Sludgelord Records (!), that something was “Covenant”, the second album by KARYN CRISIS’ GOSPEL OF THE WITCHES. On the surface “Covenant” is not the kind of record I’d expect to be interested in, let alone a must for me to review out of all the new releases I’m constantly drowning in, but from the first listen where I thought “hmmm there’s something interesting to this”, I found the gothic atmosphere, esoteric lyrics, powerful vocal delivery and beguiling melodies growing on me more on more each time.

On album opener “Womb of the World”, Karyn immediately sets the scene for what is to come with animalistic, Metal growls; alluring crooning; and rock-star flourishes. Such versatility, melded with an occult lyrical sensibility, reminds me at times of JARBOE… if JARBOE was a slick rock chick in a leather jacket. I don’t know if Karyn and her cohorts are usually dressed in leather, but listening to this album I sure feel like I should be… and wearing shades.

The music to accompany this powerful vocal presence is suitably dark and heavy, but equally melodic and catchy. There are hints of the dark, millennial Rock/ Metal crossover sounds of bands like A PERFECT CIRCLE and that whole “alternative” Rock scene. The band smoothly transitions from eerie, drifting guitar lines, floating over dreamy landscapes one minute, to come crashing in all pounding drum rolls the next. The textures are lush too, with multiple guitar lines gliding on top of each other, such as on the gothic enchantment of “Drawing Down the Moon”, add to that the many voices of Karyn intertwining over the top of the musical landscape and it’s a satisfying Goth-Rock world the band weaves together. Whatever the blend of influences, the band doesn’t wear them on their sleeve. This is just good, slick, dark, gothic Hard Rock.

Karyn has a genuinely impressive and versatile vocal power and nowhere is this, along with the varied, dark, melodic and energizing music, brought together more powerfully than on “Great Mothers”. Starting out with a menacing, stomping rhythm of pounding percussion, churning guitars and Karyn roaring and raging over the top of this backdrop, to suddenly open out into a delicate breakdown of ringing guitar arpeggios and Karyn at her most hushed and soothing, before it all bursts into flames with great, soaring and emotionally charged passion, to be then pulled back into the last pounding finale.

The spooky evocation of a nighttime ritual in “Benovento” with its straight-faced lines of “dancing with the fires at night, raising powers by the moonlight” feels a bit corny and does push my credulity to its absolute limits, but I could hardly say I wasn’t warned. The band name, album cover and title shouldn’t leave anyone in doubt that there’s an overriding theme of the occult on this record. If the whole menu of witches summoning the spirits might seem a bit cartoonish… well maybe it is, but hey, in a world with DANZIG’s demon crooning there’s definitely a place for KARYN CRISIS, and in any case on tracks like “Diana Mellifica” the atmosphere of Karyn’s chanting, over pounding drums and dark guitar melodies is just so cool, it’s easy to just give yourself over to this world of incantations and dark spirits for a little while.

While I might not feel the genuine presence of the dark spirits being summoned from out of the depths, I do recognise that I’m listening to some very enjoyable, sleek, spooky, dark Rock music, played with style, delivering plenty of memorable Hark Rock melodies and fronted by a singer with genuine star quality. Oh go on then, just one more sacrifice to the lords of darkness before bed. 7/10 Tom Boatman

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