In 1992 midwest goth troubadour Scott-David Allen began a musical journey called A Covenant Of Thorns which would burn a thick black candle in homage to the early forlorn roots of gothic music. To celebrate genuine emotion and the beauty found in darkness and pain. The concept of using our darkest moments to draw strength and celebrate those closest to our hearts. A vocal talent of superb beauty with lyrics of poetic elegance. Five EPs and Four albums later Scott David has imprinted a lasting mark on the goth scene leading up to his collaboration on “Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us” a compilation to save my cat which introduced him to Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). The two would then form The Burying Kind, my favorite new Shoegaze band of the last 5 years.
In May 2023 we received the eagerly awaited new album “Ashes” recorded at A Handful of Nothing Studios. Mastering by living legend Gordon Young. With Artwork by Greg Rolfes. I don’t know if this is always taken as the compliment I mean it, but the first word that comes to mind when I compare this record to previous beloved work, is maturity. A wisdom and elegance of sound. A communication in a relationship rather than expressing emotions after the fact. Ashes has a depth of sound made from living in the moment, rather than reflecting on the past. Every delivered line feels sung to the listener, rather than a description of narrative events. I was one with the concept, not a voyeur.
The Synths always play a staring role in Scott-David‘s work. These have such an organic feel. I hear horns, saxophones, organs, the guitar work charges to center stage in a way I don’t always feel from ACOT. Perhaps an influence of Gord being felt. The peaks and valleys feel effortless and vast. The darkscene of 2023 often feels obligated to bury the words of songs under oceans of effects. Here every word cascades out with clarity and shows the faith Scott-David places in his own voice to carry the story.
Stand Out Tracks:
Halos : This song has the emotive sway of a wooden ship on slow stormy waters I feel present in things like New Order “Ceremony“. Try to run away, trying just to feel nothing at all. The vocals here ring with such truth. Accent guitar pin pricks and a chorus with a smooth unexpected cadence. A pleading prayer for hope in the darkest moment. Also this includes a lovely sax sound around 4 minutes that always tugs my heart strings.
Grace (Like The Back Of A Fist) : This is a undeniable BANGER of the highest accord. This one has the edge, that shadow laced maturity I was discussing. No Boyish forlorn Robert Smith here. This is R rated danger and menace on a cold empty road surrounded by monsters. Shadows parting for a force of hope more menacing than the things in the ditches.
This album is beauty, it is inspirational, it is a blood red lantern in the darkness. It’s one of the best things I have heard so far this year. Sometimes you can take the best part of tradition and forge them into something new. Something that lives in this moment while casting a light backwards. I can’t wait to hear where A Covenant Of Thorns goes next.