Of all outlets, People Magazine has done a fantastic write-up on the oft-ignored proto-metal band Coven who released their first album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls in 1969 and were perhaps the first ‘goth’ band. Their dark occult-themed songs were a stark contrast to the hippie culture that had swept the nation. They even beat Black Sabbath by one year with their own “Black Sabbath” song… even their bassist was nicknamed Greg “Oz” Osborne before The Prince of Darkness. They also claim to be the “first to do the “Sign of the Horns” in rock… and wear inverted crosses.”
This is Jefferson Airplane on a very bad trip; the vocals of Esther “Jinx” Dawson are a spiraling chant of despair and the tilting droning psychedelic instrumentals itch like a spider on your leg. This is a band that seemed to take themselves very seriously while bands like Sabbath understood that vaudeville-esque theatrics of early metal. The press took Coven seriously too, connecting them to the occult-theme Manson killing which got their album pulled for a time; with songs like ‘Pact With Lucifer’ and ‘Satantic Mass’ the general public found the themes a bit too on-the-nose for Christian comfort.
They released a few albums after the masterpiece debut ‘Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls’ but never garnered a following like the contemporary Alice Cooper but damned if you don’t hear their sound in bands like Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and Orchid. This is a band that has influenced some of your favorite bands but never got the respect they deserved.
This is a perfect Halloween album and I am so glad to see that Coven is getting recognition. Coven is still together and released a limited EP called Light The Fire earlier this year. Check out their Facebook page and Merch shop.