Coven – Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls!

My company’s making me stay up tonight to work at home during the witching hour–and what better way to keep myself hot on such a cold night than to fill the air with the sounds of Hell’s raging fire?

Coven was a band started in 1968 to help the hippies bring Satanism to the masses.  The music on this album was not too crazy–mostly psychedelia with a strong female vocal, and occasionally a spookily held guitar note, with harmonies and a Frisco-sounding boogie–almost sunshine pop.  I was a far cry from the dirge-filled gloom that was starting on the other side of the pond in the form of Black Sabbath.

 But oh, that cover.  On the front there were a group of young hippies all looking forlorn with facial hair and a skull (kinda Ren-Fair-esque), but on the inside fold-out, whoa mamma!  There was a naked hippie girl (not actually the real singer, as it turns out) laid out all ashen and creepy on an altar, and a bunch of dudes with robes and goblets and what have you all screaming at the camera whilst holding upside down crucifi. 

And if you got all the way through the tracks, you found yourself listening to a full-on 13 minute Satanic Mass!  I’m not talking about a song in which a mass is referenced, but a re-enacted coven meeting with voice actors and sound effects and crazy dialogue and Satanic Gregorian chants in Latin.  This ain’t no Anton Lavey ritual, but rather a full-on “we hate Jesus” thang that mimics Hammer horror films more than actual occult texts.  In fact, at some point a neophyte girl is asked to break a crucifix, recite a bunch of stuff, and get naked, and then a bunch of Satanists froth and scream a lot.  Some of their suggestive breathing is supposed to make us think they do her!

Anyway, from what I’ve read, the album didn’t sell well or at all, and Coven went on to do the soundtrack for Billy Jack and have an inexplicable hit with “One Tin Soldier” a year or two later.  Meanwhile, lots of dudes bought Coven’s Witchcraft for the cover alone, only never to listen to it again and basically put it on the shelves or in the bargain bin of their local thrift stores, where their much younger siblings found it years later.  A young Darby Crash and Pat Smear were fans, and the rock kids who skinned their cats for Satan probably were, too. 

Anyway, it’s finally my bed time.  Accursed ye’ll be, until ye die!

P.S. If Coven really did all the stuff they talked and sang about, including cursing people with boils and leprosy, consuming and crushing traitors to Satan, reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards, and doin’ naked Satanist girls, they still wouldn’t be advocating anything as evil as what Mike Huckabee has suggested we do with AIDS patients. 

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