Band: Eternal Covenant
EP: The Great Collision
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: June 10, 2021
EP length: 16 Minutes
The Great Dictator Falls 02:55
Let Them Come 04:17
The Great Collision 04:49
When I was asked if I was willing to write the review for Eternal Covenant I wasn’t sure what to say. I had it in my head that I was about to listen to some proggy symphonic metal (while there is nothing wrong with that, I’m not especially known for being a big fan of those particular descriptors). I’m not sure why that came to mind, perhaps a similarity in name to another band (I did once infamously mistake Pantokrator for Drottnar)? Whatever the case may be I was taken aback by what I actually got when I sat down and really dug into this EP.
Eternal Covenant has been around for a little while, though they’ve been on hiatus for several years; Spotify has a couple of older EPs and a single from last year. I haven’t had the opportunity to give those a listen just yet, though that is something I intend to remedy soon. They fall under the genre of metalcore, but there is something about them that harkens back to the earlier days of the genre, not the chaotic craziness of a Zao or a Converge, but also not a band that is mired in the tropes of the style. More from the era where heavier bands had discovered emo and were trying to find a way to incorporate it into what they were doing.
The album opens with The Great Dictator Falls. They take a portion of Charlie Chapman’s famous The Great Dictator speech and use that as lyrics for the song. It’s an interesting choice for an EP that only has three other songs. Not sure how I feel about using up the little amount of time we get for this, but it does set the mood and flows nicely into the first full song of the album. What we get once we dig into the meat of the album is a band that has honed their sound and is very tight. The drums and bass are incredibly in sync and do a great job laying a foundation that the guitar work can build on. The drums in particular are consistent throughout, maintaining a good solid pace, even when the songs slow down, there is never a time when the songs feel like they are dragging. The guitar work blends in with the low end early in every song filling out the songs nicely. It breaks out and soars with the onset of the chorus. Something that I noticed after multiple listens is that the tone of the songs pretty much always changes as the songs progress (for reasons we’ll discuss a bit more when we look at the lyrics) and that tonal change is lead by the guitar. When the song initially is a bit darker in the beginning there is a very staccato djenty approach, but when the song calls for a more hopeful sound, the guitar work carries forward with a more heavy rock sound. The intensity of the song doesn’t lessen even with the subtle upbeat sound. Each song has a section of the song that’s almost an interlude. Searching, for example, has a spoken word section. While, Let Them Come has an extra emphasis on the emotional singing, where the instruments nearly drop out completely. These serve to emphasize the passion and emotion they are going for and show an ability to play with their song structures. My slight complaint on this again ties into the shortness of the album; I think this sort of thing would play out much better spaced between a couple of other songs that didn’t do it. The effect gets a little diluted.
I know pretty much nothing about who is in the band, but there are three distinct vocals on these tracks. If I had to venture a guest vocalist, I'd say there are three different people, but I’ve been surprised by people’s range in the past. The first vocal is a low-end metalcore type vocalist. At first, it made me think of Andy from A Plea for Purging but at times Zombie era Devil Wears Prada seems a better comparison. Like the band’s rhythm section, it’s a solid vocal that lays down a foundation that the other vocal styles can build off. Do not let that fool you though, they could easily have built the band around just those vocals. The second vocal style is a higher screamed one, reminiscent of the early days of deathcore. Not quite black metal vocals, but approaching them. The interplay between the two is amazingly well handled, with both accentuating the other. The mixing of the two is perfect. Neither takes away from the other and when they overlap, the effect is powerful. The third vocal style is clean singing. Now I have mixed feelings on the inclusion here. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ll know I just want more of the heavy. While the first few times the clean vocals kick in, it really kind of jarred me, I wasn’t expecting their inclusion with two very distinct heavy vocals already, I will admit that they won me over. Earlier I mentioned an emo influence, and it’s in the cleans that this comes through. Some tougher things are sung about, and the emotions are conveyed well by the singing. It isn’t whinnied but does have a mournful tone. At the same time, the last song, Great Collision, takes on a worshipful tone. All in all, the three styles work well together and allows the band to express quite a range of emotions.
Lyrically there is no doubt about what the band wants to convey. They believe in and love Jesus, and they want you to know that you are loved and he will be there for you. Searching tells us that not only is God’s love what we need that “love was searching for me”. It’s a nice reminder of the fact that God’s love is not passive, he is actively reaching out for us. He passionately longs for a relationship with us. Let Them Come is a tearjerker. It has to do with children who’ve been abandoned or abused and how they are scared by it. Desperately in need of love, particularly in face of the failure of those who should have modeled it for them. This is an example of when the song called for the tonal change I mentioned earlier. It starts off dark, but eventually once again comes to the sustaining and healing love of God. The last song, Great Collision, is pretty much a straightforward worship song. It continues the theme of God’s love and serves almost as a benediction for the EP.
I wish there were more songs on this EP. I feel like the band has so much more to say. I also think that some of the things they do with their song structures and progressions would play out better over the space of a whole album. That being said, I absolutely love Eternal Covenant’s vocals and their passion for telling people of the love of God. There is no doubt about their focus, and it is refreshing that while there is a touch of darkness here, the love and light shine so brightly.