***I'm reviewing the Limited Edition version that includes a bonus disc. Amazon.com, as of this writing, doesn't have it in stock yet and therefore no place for me to post this review, so I'm posting it here.***
"Skyshaper" took me a few listens to really get won over. It's a natural progression from "Northern Lights", with a touch of "United States Of Mind". It's a great album for Covenant fans, but I don't know if it'll win over any new ones.
The whole album is pretty solid, filled with mostly clubby dance tunes ("Ritual Noise", "Brave New World", "Pulse", "The Men", "Spindrift") along with a atmospheric, mid-tempo groover ("Greater Than The Sun"), a ballad ("The World Is Growing Loud") and a few that are out of Covenant's norm (the odd Moog driven "Happy Man", the harder-than-usual "Sweet & Salty").
"20 hz" is my favorite track, and could possibly be one of my favorite Covenant songs of all time. I could listen to it all day. I really love the raver synths at the beginning, then enters a rhythmic sample of someone struggling for breath as if to embody the struggle to survive in the Big City, as portrayed in the lyrics ("... people come and go, so many different faces, as the city passes by, I watch their tired eyes, journeys never made, broken dreams of leaving, fill the streets with dust...) Then the killer bass synth comes in, along with the 4/4 bass drum, and as soon as that snare drum starts hitting half way through the first verse, it's all over. Get down and boogie already. This song is worth the price of the CD alone.
The three song bonus disc, unfortunately, is fairly lame. The first song is an instrumental called "Subterfugue For 3 Absynths" . It's as pretentious as it sounds as it's 42 minutes of pretty much the exact same rhythm/synth line with only subtle variations. I can't even listen to it all of the way though, I made it about 10 minutes in before skipping around, finding out that it hardly changes, and then skipping it altogether. Either this is genius at work and I'm not seeing it or it is musical masturbation. Either way, I don't want to listen to it. The second track, "Relief", is a standard song with vocals and it's decent. The third track is a remix of "Ritual Noise", I like the album version better. Not too keen on most remixes anyway.
The packaging is great, a lot of black, white and grey colors are used in the design. The booklet features lyrics, photos of the band as well as landscape shots of Iceland. But what really does it for me are the liner notes for each and every song, as well as a foreword reflecting on the entire album. I loves me some inner thought. I'm not sure if this booklet is the same as the normal version.