Exposé Online banner

Covenant — Nature's Divine Reflection
(Syn-Phonic SYNCD 13, 1992, CD)

by Mike Borella, Published 1994-02-01

Nature's Divine Reflection Cover art

It seems that the one-man band is making a comeback in the American mid-west. Whether this is a positive happening or not, I will leave to the individual listener. Covenant consists solely of one Dave Gryder, formerly a drummer from a trash-metal band. Syn-phonic put this album out under the name of Covenant for marketing reasons, and who can blame them? I can count the progressive rock solo albums that I enjoy without going into double digits. I've always considered prog as the ultimate form of synergy. Musicians of better-than-average skill pull ideas together in a form that none of them could have done on their own. The creative process of three or more people can be fascinating to watch, especially in music, as dozens of related, unrelated and/or random ideas get turned into a cohesive piece. Without bandmembers to provide feedback and vetoes, it seems harder to step back from your own material and see it through someone else's eyes. This is what I hypothesize Gryder had to go through, as he wrote this album. Nature's Divine Reflection is a keyboard/drum wet dream, with Gryder's virtuosity on both instruments near the mastery level. However, the lack of bass (mixed so low it might as well not have been there at all) and guitar (two way-too-short interludes by fellow free-lancer Bill Pohl) limits this album to a very one-dimensional appeal. But somehow, it still works. The keyboard array consists to something straight out of the seventies. Mostly analog (or digital imitating analog) keys add a dark, gothic feel. Mellotrons and church organs, blistering runs and atmospheric themes, add to the mix. And the drumming - wow. I always notice the drum lines because it often divides the good prog from the not-so-good. Gryder's talents are prodigious as his busy, fast style dominates the rhythm. The metal influences are evident, perhaps reminding me of modern death-metal drumming, like that found on Cynic's or Atheist's newest albums. So here we have the darkness of Il Balleto di Bronzo, and American ELP style without the "L," perhaps an updated version of the incredibly overrated band Quill, but without the pretentiousness and lyrics that make Quill unlistenable. Gryder's definitely a major talent, but he needs to work with a real band to truly exploit his skills. Albums like Nature's Divine Reflection are good listens but they tell of too much unused potential. Missing from this offering is the synergy of a group of people working together (as well as the instruments that members of that group would be playing). I'll give Covenant a B+. Worth owning, but could have been so much better!


Filed under: New releases, Issue 2, 1992 releases

Related artist(s): Covenant, Bill Pohl

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Terreno Baldio & Recordando o Vale das Maçãs – Both of these are grouped in a single review, not simply because both were classic 70s Brazilian progressive bands, or because they both happen to be on the PRW Label (Progressive Rock Worldwide...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues