Coven Japan – Earthlings (No Remorse Records)Monday, 27th November 2023
Aware of the affinity for NWOBHM beyond its origins into many other pockets of the world, Coven Japan began in 2016 as a great marriage between that sound/influence along with Japanese rock, metal and animation angles to create quite a catchy sound. Releasing their debut EP The Advert strictly as Coven before expanding their namesake, this debut album Earthlings has an additional seal of approval in terms of the mixing and mastering prowess of Olof Wikstrand from Enforcer. Writing the songs in a parallel Japanese/English language universe (verses/bridges in the former, choruses in the latter) presents another unique factor in the band’s arsenal – but it’s evident throughout that the addictive guitar riffs/runs plus singalong choruses should hammer home the universal appeal for those who love classic heavy metal.
The dual guitar attack as well as proficient bass spots create a magnitude of memories around influences like Mercyful Fate, Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, all the way into classic Riot – especially prevalent in tracks like “Apocalypse” and the harmony-fueled “Return of the Souls”. Most listeners will find it very difficult not to whirl in hair whipping, headbanging magnificence to the opening track “Land of the Rising Sun” – vocalist Taka soaring to the heavens while injecting her Dickinson-esque inflections as the use of reverb/delay is adequate without overpower her delivery. Many of the main musical components aren’t necessarily progressive or fancy – in fact there’s definitely more of a down to earth nature to the drumming to keep the spotlight on the guitar work, which is the key factor for the band’s style to drill deep into the hearts of their faithful followers. How can you not be swept away by the Thin Lizzy-esque twin harmonies that develop throughout “To Sanctuary – March For the Voiceless”, the circular tradeoffs mesmerizing while Taka just grabs those vocal melodies to squeeze out every possible exciting emotion until the end.
Coven Japan will probably be another ‘cult’ favorite – which is a shame as this is the type of band that you would hear at a festival, be very surprised about, and walk away humming/singing specific songs or melodies instantly. Earthlings should be the start of an interesting journey to worldwide appeal.