Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Kovenant - Mirror's Paradise

My younger brother and I worked together in the kitchens for many years and we often found ourselves working the prep hall and listening to CDs, because people still listened to CDs back then. We both really enjoyed the music from the CKY soundtrack which was mostly songs by Finnish love metal band HIM, but there were other tracks we really enjoyed like Kovenant’s “Mirror’s Paradise.”

We must have listened to “Mirror’s Paradise” hundreds of times back then, and then as my music collection grew and grew the song was half lost in my now nearly ten thousand song playlist on my computer. It came up on random the other day, and for probably the first time in five years I heard “Mirror’s Paradise” and thought of my kid brother, those prep halls, and everything else that ran with my memories and those times.

It has been over a decade since I discovered “Mirror’s Paradise” and I surprise myself how I had never looked any deeper into Kovenant, and to this day I have barely heard an album’s worth of their tracks. Who are Kovenant?

Kovenant are a Norwegian black metal band, I probably could have guessed that, what from the screaming and everything; classic Norway.

To date they have released four studio album, with “Mirror’s Paradise” appearing as the first track on their third 1999 album “Animatronic.” They managed a fourth studio album release in 2003 but have been largely inactive since then. I would have suspected the band had dissolved but apparently there is still talk about producing a new album and the band claims Kovenant is still a thing. I have not had the time to dig up the details but it appears that fan reception to change was negative enough to really upset some of the members of Kovanent. Where they darker heavier before? I do not yet know.

If I am being perfectly honest about it, as I go through the various songs on youtube by Kovanent, I like them, but I do not love them. Nothing compares to “Mirror’s Paradise.”

Perhaps it was the right song presented to me at the right time in my life but “Mirror’s Paradise” is the sort of song I will never get tired of and could listen to every day for the rest of my life.

If you look at the other one-hundred ninety one reviews on this blog you will see that I like European metal a lot but I have little to no love for the “black” metal scene. The raw growling of a Gwar or the screeching of Cradle of Filth is a little too much for me. As someone who loves the melody of vocals these... interpretations of singing; and I use that word with its most liberal meaning imaginable; largely fail to be used effectively as a melody.

Someone on the track “Mirror’s Paradise” is doing their best Dani Filth impersonation. Ten plus years ago I did not think, or perhaps have the means, to look up who was singing on this track, but I always thought it might have featured that demon singer from Cradle of Filth, checking now I can find no such evidence suggesting so. What distinguishes “Mirror’s Paradise” from other extreme metal songs is the stoic and deep voice that sings the chorus, this strange notion that we should be able to decipher the words is present. I also really like the female harmony vocals. The overall final product is a more symphonic experience, which is exactly what I like.

The song “Mirror’s Paradise” still feels very demonic in sound and theme, but the lyrics reveal that true meaning of the song is an anti-religious one. This song is an aggressive song about how there is no after-life.

“How can you love it...
How can you believe it...
How can you need it...
When there’s nothing there?”

There is a very strong movement in Norwegian black metal towards Satanism, but there is an even stronger movement in Norway in the general population towards atheism and agnosticism, so I cannot feign even the smallest surprise that a Norwegian metal band would so directly and forcefully sing about the horrid nightmare of having all your dreams of an afterlife spirited away from you when you close your eyes for the last time.

It is a dark take on the subject, but reality is a brutal uncompromising beast with zero consideration for our emotions, and a if we wish to be honest in our philosophies about life and death we will have to weigh the overwhelming probable certainty that Kovanent are correct and there is literally nothing waiting for us when we take our great leap into the dark.

“You smile... but it’s all despair.
You love... but there’s nothing there.”

So when we pause to take “Mirror’s Paradise” as a whole there is so much more than just sound and fury of their black metal origins, but an emotional and thoughtful truth being thrust forward to our ears and hopefully our minds. It is typical that a metal song should be about death, but “Mirror’s Paradise” evokes something a little more than raw death, it challenges the uncomfortable notion that we can cheat death; it demands a look at our true morality, and all that we are, one day ends. You can see why this song has stayed with me over all this time.

- King of Braves

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