Review Summary: a satisfying and diverse tech prog metal concept albumCovenant
is the sophomore release from tech prog metal band, Unprocessed
, out of Wiesbaden, Germany. The band describes their “highly diversifying” sound as a “technically sophisticated modern style of Progressive Metal.” Much like the album cover, Covenant’s music reflects a descent into “the mirrors of a world beyond the abyss.” Within this electro-metallic soundscape, the aggression of Meshuggah’s ObZen
and the progressive ambience of The Ocean’s Pelagial
and Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails
all melt into the Sci-Fi soundtracks and imagery of Tron: Legacy
and Blade Runner 2049
is a concept album that paints its prog metal portrait on the digital canvas of an electronic dream world. The result is a satisfying journey through a diverse sonic landscape where intricate technical details continue to emerge.
The title track opener is a burst of energy that sets the stage for Haven
, one of the album’s strongest tracks, both musically and lyrically. To fully appreciate Haven
and catch a glimpse of this band’s technical strengths, check out the official video. Vocalist Manuel Gardner Fernandes alternates respectably between heartfelt clean vocals and spirited screams. His vocal performance, though, is not nearly as impressive as watching him shred Haven’s
guitar solo with tight precision and an otherworldly feel reminiscent of Steve Vai. Malleable
is another excellent track full of prog diversity, skillful drumming and funky bass work. Downshifting into a more introspective mood, The Mirror
is a turning point on the album marked by acoustic piano passages and clean vocals. Near journey’s end, Exhale
is a potent dose of raw sound fueled by the fury of guest vocalist, Vincent Schmitz, from Aeons of Corruption
. With song lengths averaging around five minutes, each member has time to shine and the music has room to breathe without dragging. The use of electronic elements feels thoughtful and contributes to the consistent tone throughout the album without seeming gimmicky. Overall, the lyrics are not particularly poetic or powerful and certain words and phrases feel clunky, but this is overshadowed by the creative song structures, pervasive atmosphere and undeniable talent displayed by each member.
The journey to appreciate Covenant
can be challenging and fraught with misconceptions for those not familiar with this style of metal. One could say the sound is somewhat of a mixture between progressive metalcore and atmospheric djent, but that doesn’t really matter. Unprocessed
do their own thing and it works. Covenant
draws the listener back in for more, rewarding them each time with new discoveries and a deeper appreciation. Initially, the extended electronic sections at the end of certain songs were confusing. However, this isn’t the typical offering of nine random bangers and a ballad, all laid out in traditional song structures. Each song flows into the next, blurring the lines between tracks as the music tells its story. After several spins, it was helpful to go back and read the lyrics from beginning to end, without the music, before diving back in. As the bigger picture begins to emerge, the listening experience evolves in a deeply satisfying way. Listening to Covenant
is like watching a movie; a virtual rollercoaster ride of sounds and emotions. The final track, Exuent
, is a soothing, electronic outro as if the closing credits of a movie were rolling across the screen. It’s that moment of attempting to process what just happened before immediately jumping back on for another ride. To top it off, the production is fantastic with a well-balanced mix, crystal clear synth sounds and bass that rumbles and kicks.
is an excellent album from a talented, young band who’s found their niche. Unprocessed
have created the complete package with this album, full of atmosphere and technical intricacies, best experienced in full versus piece-by-piece. If Unprocessed’s
2014 debut and more recent EP flew under the radar, Covenant
should put this band on the map for anyone who enjoys creative, technically sophisticated Progressive Metal.