Review Summary: The Kovenant get their feet wet in the black metal scene for the last time with this album.
Anyone who knows of The Kovenant now knows that they're more rooted in the industrial metal field. Well back in the days when they were first starting out, the band played a more melodic style of black metal. They were formed by bassist and vocalist Nagash, who was a former member of Dimmu Borgir, and Blackheart, who was a newcomer to the black metal scene. Now if you're thinking that Nexus Polaris
is just going to be some cheap Dimmu Borgir knockoff then you have another thing coming. In fact, The Kovenant doesn't follow any of the formulas that are found in Dimmu Borgir. The only similarity is that they both played melodic black metal.
The Kovenant isn't really like any other band that was coming out of the Norwegian black metal scene in the 90's. They didn't care about murder, church burnings, Satan or any of the cliche things that you would normally expect from a band playing black metal in Norway during that time. They go for a more spacey and cosmic approach to their music. This band didn't need an entire orchestra. Instead they focused on using weird, space-like noises to make it seem as though you're right smack dab in the middle of the solar system. It's pretty apparent what they're trying to portray just by looking at the album cover. With that being said, there's still plenty of talent to be found in the actual instruments themselves. There are plenty of catchy riffs to be found, produced by Blackheart and Astennu, and they like to keep it on the melodic side of things. Not really too much tremolo picking like you would normally find in black metal. It's a lot more riff-friendly than a lot of other black metal albums. Drumming, courtesy of the infamous Hellhammer, doesn't really stand out too much, but still well done. Just a lot of faster, rhythmic stuff and not really too much blast beating going on, which is again uncommon for black metal. Either way, it does it's job. There's even some beautiful piano playing at some points, most notably at the end of Bizarre Cosmic Industries.
Vocally the album is pretty unique as well. What you get from Nagash isn't really something a lot of people were used to hearing from a black metal vocalist during this time. Instead of the regular shrieking, you get more of a semi high-pitched snarl as well as a more throaty shouting and also some creepy talking vocals. The snarl is the more dominant of the three styles, but both are still executed very well and he makes it sound very good. This will definitely be a change from what fans are used to hearing and may take some getting used to, but it's worth it. Female vocals are used sporadically throughout the album as well and are performed by Sarah Jezebel Deva of Cradle of Filth fame.
If you're a fan of black metal and you're looking for something different than the norm, then Nexus Polaris
is going to be one of your best bets. Especially for the time that this came out, The Kovenant were doing something that not a lot of bands were doing, and that is being weird and very different. Using different lyrical themes and just a different overall approach to the genre is definitely something that is refreshing. They might be displaying their horrible take on industrial metal nowadays, but back in the 90's, The Kovenant were definitely a prominent band in the Norwegian black metal scene.