Ufo - Covenant

(SPV/ Steamhammer) Release date: July 25th 2000

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Do you know the game "today you're my friend, tomorrow not?" Not only little children on the schoolyard play it, but also one of the best and oldest english hard rock bands, the legendary UFO. Michael Schenker versus Phil Mogg and Pete Way: A neverending story. On countless occasions these guys managed to make fools of themselves due to the ridiculous clashes of their egos. First time the mad german axeman Schenker left during the recording of the fabulous live album STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT, last time during the WALK ON WATER world tour. And it's this WALK ON WATER reunion album the new opus COVENANT has to be compared with. While the first was recorded by the most famous Ufo lineup including Andy Parker on drums and Paul Raymond on keyboards, COVENANT lacks both of them and instead features hell of a chap Aynsley Dunbar who worked with both Michael Schenker (on his last instrumental album ADVENTURES OF THE IMAGINATION) and Mogg/Way (on the EDGE OF THE WORLD album). The band info says it's "their indisputably best line-up to date", but I think that's almost an insult against all the fantastic members who were part of this band before (just take Simon Wright, also a great drummer). And I really miss the exquisite keyboard playing of Paul Raymond that refined tracks like Darker Days and Dreaming Of Summer. Of course COVENANT is dominated by the not-from-this-world guitar work of Mr. Schenker. But sometimes I believe there are some keyboards also on COVENANT, like on Fool's Gold, but well hidden and mixed in the background. And I have no infos about the keyboard player. But let's talk about the songs. The opener Love Is Forever is amazing. If features the typical Ufo trademarks. Mogg's unique dark and raspy voice and Schenker's fluent guitar in almost perfect combination. Second track Unraveled has an unspectacular riffing but a good chorus with nice harmony vocals. On the rest of the album, you get the whole range from fast forward guitar driven rockers like the above mentioned Fool's Gold and the very raw Smell Of Money over midtempo tracks with fine guitar licks like Miss The Lights and Unraveled to the typical Ufo anthems like Rise Again and Serenade. The last one is my favourite on the whole album. Schenker's unbelieveable melodic guitar combined with superb vocal lines. But unfortunately I still haven't found an absolute classic like Venus on WALK ON WATER. I already was prepared to listen to a mature album, but I didn't expect it to be this mature! There are not enough hooks and catchy tunes. Most of the tracks are not spectacular enough. The best examples are the two last songs Cowboy Joe and The World & His Dog. Nice rockers, but without any dynamics in the songwriting. No memorable choruses. Are Ufo too serene and experienced to think about "unnecessary" stuff like refrains? Michael Schenker's last solo album THE UNFORGIVEN also had this problem. So I unfortunately cannot give this album the high score Ufo normally would deserve. But it's still a good one!

Rating: 8.5

Review by: Rage