Coven @ P60, Amstelveen, 20 June 2018

Long before there was Black Metal, there was an American band called Coven. Founded in 1967 and active until the mid-1970s, they were the first band to incorporate occult and Satanic imagery and lyrics, culminating in the track “Satanic Mass”. And they also contributed the sign of the horns into music. Strangely enough the opening track of their debut album was called Black Sabbath and they had bass player called Oz Osborne. And they coined “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” way before Van Halen did. Musically often compared to Jefferson’s Airplane, and actually not too different from early Black Sabbath. Yet singer Jinx Dawson’s powerful, shrill vocals stand out very much. A year ago Jinx reformed the band with new musicians and appeared in Europe for a one-off gig at the Roadburn festival, which I noticed too late. Now she is back for a brief European tour.

They were accompanied by the Dutch band Temple Fang. Both guitarist are lefties, which is quite an uncommon sight. Musically it is a melting pot of blues, heavy metal, progressive rock. The quite long songs are built up slowly. The drums are relatively simplistic. There some interesting bass patterns that really stand out. Vocally not really interesting, quite safe. In the end it couldn’t really hold my interest that long.

Then the curtains were closed and the stage was prepared for Coven. When the curtains opened again, a coffin dressed in a black shroud stood at the center of the stage, held by the bass player and the keyboard player, and like the rest of the band were hooded. As the shroud was withdrawn the coffin was shown to be adorned with a upside-down cross. All the while samples from the Satanic Mass were played over the PA. Eventually, the coffin opened Jinx Dawson stepped out covered in a black veil. The coffin was carried off stage, and the first song Out of Luck was started. Jinx sung this with a face mask. The vocals were a bit low in the mix, maybe also due to the face mask. During the rest of the gig it was a lot better. Naturally the gig centered around the debut album “Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls”. Musically it was very strong and tight, with a bit more modern and distorted guitar sound than on the album. The vocals sounded a bit lower than on the album and the sharp edges were a bit gone, but I guess that is what happens after nearly 50 years. All in all a great gig.

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