Nostalgia. Unfinished business. Hearing your work translated by younger, more established bands. There are many, many reasons for long-dormant groups to give it a second go-around. Detroit’s doom metallers Coven had only one album, 1987’s Worship New Gods, before changing their name to Coven 13 and calling it a day in 1991. Twenty years later, the original members decided to give it the ol’ college try, regrouped with an extra guitarist, and put together their first album in 26 years, Destiny of the Gods. You can’t help but admire a band that’s willing to give it another go, no matter the genre. However, inconsistency, lack of focus, and some questionable vocals can kill any momentum brought about by renewed vigor and passion, and because of all that, Destiny of the Gods suffers greatly.
This is made all the more apparent with album opener “Thor’s Twins.” The sounds of winds howling and an ominous guitar line shows promise initially before turning into a poor man’s Bad Religion. I read the description of this album as “Nordic Doom Metal,” expecting a sound akin to heavyweights like The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Solitude Aeturnus, et al. I’m not finding any doom to speak of in this song, or on most of the tracks on Destiny of the Gods. “Walpurgisnacht” starts off with an ominous, foreboding aura before chucking that feeling halfway, instead resorting to bad pole-dancer music, before righting the ship back to calmer (and less embarrassing) waters [Bad Pole Dancer is an awesome band name so…Pat. Pending — Steel “Trademarky” Druhm].
And speaking of embarrassing, the vocals of David Landrum are just bad. In fact, a lot of the problems with Destiny of the Gods stem from his questionable singing ability. His syncopation and off-key warbling during “Thor’s Twins” brings to mind a tone-deaf Peter Murphy. The chorus of “Isles of Man” sounds like Landrum took one big breath and just screamed the lyrics before taking another deep breath to finish it off. His screaming at the 2:09 mark in the otherwise decent “Frost Giants” is both eye-rolling and headphone-throwing. He tries to go Full Dio on “Walpurgisnacht” and fails. He should never go Full Dio.
And it’s a shame too, because some of the songs on here are actually pretty decent. “Elfstone” has a pretty good Maiden gallop with a tasty guitar solo. “She Rides The Dawn” has a very cool tremolo-picked middle that will definitely get heads doing windmills in no time, and is easily the standout track on an otherwise “meh” record, and that’s only if you’re able to put up with Landrum’s off-key histrionics. Besides, no one shells out their hard-earned money for “meh” these days.
And so, Destiny of the Gods lands not with a valiant sounding of horns, but with a tone-deaf whimper. With better focus, tighter songwriting, and a vocalist who can sing, this album would have sounded better. As it stands, certain things are best left as a memory. Disappointing.