Originally released on vinyl only back in 1987, this is the first CD pressing of this debut album from Michigan doom merchants Coven. Despite going under the doom tag, though, this isn’t the sort of snail-paced, grinding misery that usually typifies the genre, with Coven being slightly more up-tempo with their heady mix of Black Sabbath’s head-nodding grooves, punk rock and a dash of trad metal theatrics. Didn’t do Cathedral any harm to play a bit faster, did it?
Very typical of the underground at the time, Worship New Gods is reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s debut album in terms of the sheer energy of the playing, although like that album the end result probably doesn’t sound quite as good as it did in the studio. That isn’t to say that it’s terrible, but it has the sort of audio quality that most commentators would say ‘adds charm to the songs’, (i.e. paper thin production that doesn’t reign in the sometimes-grating vocals) – but the band are playing their collective nuts off. Despite the uneven sound quality the album does stand as a document of that time in metal when bands were splintering off into various different sub-genres, and metal as a whole was growing, no longer just being about the stereotypical image of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden or the (then) new breed of thrash metal bands like Exodus or Slayer. The closest reference points would really be Candlemass or Bedemon if you were looking for a comparison, although this album probably owes more to punk or garage rock than either of those bands.
If you’re into doom or pagan-y, folk-y, metal with a bit of an aggressive edge and don’t mind the rough and patchy production then Worship New Gods might have something to offer you. If, on the other hand, you like your doom slower, heavier, a bit more polished or a bit more defined then you may want to give this a miss. It may have history and hold a bit of status among the vinyl-collecting purists but judged on musical merit alone it’s one for the hardcore only.