The Kovenant - Animatronic 2-LP (Clear/Black/Red Splatter vinyl)
When The Covenant was forced to change names, no one expected them to change their sound and image so drastically as well, which automatically alienated them from their original fanbase due to the age old fact that people will always romanticize the the music of the past instead of embracing the music of the future. Animatronic solidifies that theory in every way, and truly sounds like metal from the future. From the first riff in the opening song Mirror's Paradise, you can tell that this album is less complex than Nexus Polaris, replacing it with a more straightforward sound, but for some reason this makes it heavier and makes the listener much more prone to headbanging along with the chugging riffs. Lex Icon's vocals are different as well, incorporating a stronger vocal approach with a more diverse singing voice instead of the just the black metal scream, along with a very high pitched scream that he does sporadically throughout the album.
The lyrical content is much more abstract and symbolic thant the previous releases, especially in the song The Human Abstract. Some lyrics just stick out and resonate within, like "While you sleep we destroy your planet". Hellhammer's drumming has moved to the foreground of the band's overall sound and completely mesmerizes the listener. While I admit I was very sad to see Steinar Sverd's (Arcturus) presence absent from the recording of this album, the keys and synths are absolutely top-notch, and add the dimension needed to make The Kovenant almost a brand new band. I have never heard electronics work in complete unison with the band's sound without sounding too orchestrated, but The Kovenant melds it together with panache and ease.
By far one of the greatest changes in a bands sound and image I have ever seen, truly redefining the future of black metal.