Blinding Dark

I haven’t updated in a while because $reasons. Anyway, I do more than just Tarot. Music is also my thing, esp. synthpop, Goth, and Industrial. Covenant has been one of my fave bands for close to 20 years now and this is their new album.

Soo…Blinding Dark…

Disclaimer: this album was NOT given to me for any compensation. Eskil Simonsson and Stefan Herwig (Head of Dependent Records) are old and dear friends of mine and I miss them both terribly. 😦 I got the hotshit box set as a birthday gift. Unfortunately, the top of the box has a bald patch where it got damaged in shipping. Eskil should just sign over the damage next time I see him. 😉

I’m only reviewing the main disc, not Psychonaut or the supplemental materials, as I don’t know what version people will be getting. Also, bear in mind I have the European box set. The US version has a different track order that frankly doesn’t work well. I’d also like to get my hands on the schmuck who classed its genre as metal? Wait…what?

Here goes nothing:

1) Fulwell: this would be a good stage intro track. As an album track, it’s a smidge long and can be easily skipped.

2) I Close My Eyes: a lovely 90 bpm meditation in B-flat major. This song has been floating around since about 2009 or so. I’m glad it found a home. This is probably my fave song on the album by a very narrow margin. I can listen to this one on repeat for hours.

3) Morning Star: Interesting song and a logical evolution from their Europa-era material. I like the hip-hop-ish beat used here. Definitely has a menacing feel to it, and in a good way. It could be mistaken for a track taken from Northern Lights, though. Not a bad thing.

4) Cold Reading: I actually *like* the vocal effects in this song. This song is classic Covenant. There’s no ambiguity and sounds like an upgraded version of something off Sequencer. I would very much like to see this become a new club anthem instead of ‘Tears In Rain.’ Hear that, local DJs? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS (un)HOLY NO MORE TEARS IN GODDAMNED RAIN. YOU PLAY IT TOO FUCKING MUCH. But this track works as a companion piece or sequel to ‘Liquid Sky,’ another of my fave songs by them.

5) Rider On A White Horse: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? This is a cover of a Lee Hazelwood song. Thematically, sure, it fits the rest of the album. But it just doesn’t work. It definitely drags down the pace of the album while thankfully not bringing it to a screeching halt like ‘I Walk Slow’ did on Leaving Babylon. But Erica Li’s voice is like a chainsaw outside my window at noon waking me up (fucking annoying) and this song is just No. Nope. No. Nope. SKIP. They should have put ‘In Theory’ from the Sound Mirrors single on here. It would have worked better.

6) Interlude I: meh, generic. Daniel Meyer gets a pat on the head here for effort. I’m not really a Haujobb fan and this sounds like a Haujobb teaser. Next!

7) Dies Irae: Latin for Day of Wrath, we get a real song again. Definitely in the vein of material off Skyshaper and LB, but with a bit of an edge to it. I forget who wrote this, but I know it was one of those existential authors a hundred years ago. Some guy shouted out to the universe ‘I exist!’ and the universe said, ‘So what?’ That was the gist of it anyway and it’s pretty much the theme of the song.

8) Sound Mirrors (Fulwell): This is the main single off the album, and it was a good choice. I could do without the 45-second intro, but other than that, the song works. It’s a catchy, upbeat number that once again hearkens back to Northern Lights. Cut out the intro and it’d probably pack the dance floor. The soaring chorus *will* get stuck in your head for days. Also a good song for driving at speed across open desert at 3 am.

9) Interlude II: I’d reach up and give Andreas Catjar a pat on the head here for effort except I’d probably have to stand on a stepladder to do it. The guy’s what? 6’7? While this is better than the first Interlude, it still strikes me as filler more than anything.

10) If I Give My Soul: Tied with ‘I Close My Eyes’ for my fave on the album. Starting out very much like ‘The Men’ off Skyshaper, this goes into a very Tangerine Dreamish main song that reminds me a lot of ‘Crystal Voice’ off the Firestarter soundtrack. This is a good thing. Eskil: insecure much? I think everyone’s asked these questions of pretty much everyone else, whether they realize it or not.
– Call you? Absolutely, but the whole 8-9 hour time difference thing…email and Messenger are easier.
– Spit on you? Nope. Just don’t backwash if we wind up sharing drinks like usual, K?
– Die on you? I’ll try not to, but it wouldn’t be voluntary if I did. I’m too damned stubborn to go down without a hell of a fight.
– Leave you? Not unless you do or did something egregiously stupid or you lie to me, disrespect me, or take me for granted. But for being yourself? Nope–I’ll stick around for a while. You did summon me after all… 😉
– Die FOR you? HAHAHA buddy I love you but not that much. I’ll more than likely outlive you anyway. *sigh*

11) Summon Your Spirit: A good idea that essentially peters out and goes nowhere. It’s way too long for what it does. It works as a closer, but should have only been a couple minutes long, not 5:19. This probably should have been edited to make it much shorter or scrapped entirely.

So on the whole, I do like this album. They’ve achieved full redemption after the slickly overproduced and soulless shell that was Modern Ruin. Leaving Babylon was the halfway mark. Their most accessible album remains Skyshaper, but this is tied for 2nd with United States of Mind. It could flow better, but it’s not the disjointed mess that the US track order is. I would have split it into three even sections with the interludes marking each one. Regardless, this is one that will grow on the listener with time.

**** or 4/5. It’s not perfect. Don’t miss it.

Zolar’s Astrological Tarot

So I got lucky a couple weeks ago and scored this weird little thing off Ebay. US Games published it from 1982 until fairly recently–I want to say 2014?–but before then, it was published by Zolar’s publishing company.

 

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The box has wear. I’ll probably tape it as I don’t buy stuff like this for an investment. I buy it because I like it. Getting it for what I did with the box and the LWB was definitely a score. The cards are in near mint condition and were probably never used. The colour change around the edges is likely due to age.

 

It’s an odd little deck. It’s 56 double sided cards. The Minor Arcana are on one side, and this includes the Knights of each suit. The Major Arcana are on the other side along with astrological cards to fill in the gaps. I’m not sure how to use the astrological cards as such. The Tarot part I can do in my sleep.

 

The colour scheme leaves a lot to be desired. It’s bold, it’s clean, but orange and mint green? Really? I think it was originally salmon pink, and it does appear pinkish orange when not in pictures, but 50+ years have changed things. Colour plates can change as they age and this may be the case here. I don’t know. I’d like to get my hands on a USG copy but they’ll cost me about $50 a pop. I could also do without the keywords printed on each card, but at the same time, it’s part of the deck’s charm. The side of the box says ‘Nothing to learn!’ Hell, where’s the fun in that?!?

 

The cardstock is on the thin side. I wouldn’t trust it. Then again, I’ve had really thin decks that I thought would crease or fall apart and they still hold up. Yes, Lo Scarabeo, I’m looking at you. Still, though, I wouldn’t subject these to a lot of use just because of their age.

 

The main thing that gets me, though, is the fact the cards are double-sided. The flip side of the Moon is the 8 of Pentacles/Diamonds. So the two can never appear in the same reading in this deck. That’s ridiculous. Any readings with this deck will lose a lot of nuance just because of this. Also, how is the user to tell which side is the front and which side is the back of each card? Usually decks will have uniform backs. Maybe this was an attempt to save cardstock, but it doesn’t work. Maybe the sitter is supposed to close their eyes when they shuffle? Uhh…sure, whatever.

 

I’m still glad I scored a copy for my collection, though. This is a deck that probably should not be revived. I can’t see where experienced readers could really use this well. It’d also just confuse the hell out of beginners. If people want keywords, they can try to scare up a copy of the Starter Tarot, which does have keywords on each card, or take a marker and write keywords on each card in their deck. It’s up to the user, basically. As for ME reading with this deck, it’s not going to happen unless someone specifically requests this. It’s an interesting novelty, though.