Artist: Ark Of The Covenant
Album: Separation EP
Genre: Christian Metalcore
Label: Facedown/Strike First
Facedown And Strike First Records haven’t exactly been known for “changing the game” in recent years, but they also haven’t had to change anything to remain relevant. While dozens move to and from the heavier side of rock and roll, these labels have unleashed a steady onslaught of great metal and hardcore releases, rarely letting their built in fans down. Their latest offering, the obviously religious related Ark Of The Covenant, are no different. Their debut EP, Separation, brings a crushing display of metal listeners on any side of the philosophical fence are sure to be talking about for weeks to come.
There is is a single moment of clarity before Separation takes you by the collar and refuses to let go, but it is one that needs to be recognized. In that moment, a voice solemnly whispers “This is the end” before a deafening flood of heavy enters to kick things off in true Facedown Records fashion. I know this may may seem a bit “been there done that,” but I swear it shook me to my core. From here, what can only be described as a juggernaut of doom metal explodes from the speakers carrying a message filled with more hope than many may assume.
The record jumps into high gear on “Book Of Life” with more guttural intensity that any other release we’ve heard this year. Think As Blood Runs Black level heavy with a more mainstream, near Emmure-like twist and a heaping dose of faith to polish it all off. This barrage of sound continues on “All Inhabitants Of The Earth,” only this time being elevated with more technical guitar work. It may not seem like much of a change, but it’s just enough to keep you listening another three and a half minutes.
By the time we arrive at the gang vocal intro’d “Locusts Look Like Horses” it has become perfectly clear that “heavy” is on thing this band knows how to do. This track once again brings a near skull-rattling amount of crashing guitars, bass, and drums down on the listener with vocals that only help to further the ferocity of the music. It definitely pulls you in, but these days it takes a lot more than “being heavy” to make it anywhere in this business and nothing thus far has really set Ark Of The Covenant apart. Even the closer, a much more subdued track entitled “Separation,” comes with a sense of “metalcore by the numbers” that is hard to shake.
When it is all said and done, one must wonder what exactly sets Ark Of The Covenant apart from the rest of the current metalcore market. Their faith obviously plays a role in their notoriety, but nothing in the actual music sets them apart from your average heavy music fans turned band. There’s breakdowns, the occasional sweep or technical riff, and tons of lyrical metaphors involving battles, fighting foes, and standing against evil. This is “how to sound relevant 101” with a Christian twist, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy what I heard. Separation is definitely worth your time, just don’t expect it to change your life.
Review written by: James Shotwell