REVIEW: Ark Of The Covenant - Self Harvest

Genre: Deathcore/Hardcore
Label: Facedown
Date of Release: April 30, 2013


Christian deathcore quintet Ark Of The Covenant is a group that has made a nice leap in their sound after its start. They formed in 2009 from Stratford, Connecticut, and then released their debut EP "Separation" in 2011, which displayed much potential despite its flaws. They later signed to Facedown Records, within the ranks of larger bands such as War Of Ages and Extol. This would lead to the release of their first full-length album "Self Harvest." 

The musicianship has undergone some slight changes since the band's debut EP, but these shifts are definitely for the better. The singing, while it still somewhat relies on low gutturals and high-pitches, is now mainly composed of thick and fierce screams and roars. Not only does it sound very good, but it also delivers great aggression without the need of the former, traditional method of delivering deathcore-esque vocals to carry the weight. The guitars brandish a very hearty sleuth of brutal riffs and chugs, and the drums are nothing short of powerful in their sound. All in all, the instrumentation is quite potent.

Production-wise, the album also fares well. Gregory Thomas, the band's guitarist, as well as a member of metalcore titans Misery Signals, is the one behind the mixing, and he certainly did a great job with making the music sound raw and heavy. It can get a little too muddy at certain points, especially during the faster parts, but for the most part, it definitely works in the album's favor. 

"Self Harvest" offers ten tracks (Not counting the dark piano outro "Famine") of rough-edged deathcore with hints of hardcore thrown into the mix. The songs are very gripping and well-constructed overall, and they have great pacing and dynamic. From the breakdowns to the bridges to the fast-paced segments, the album does a stellar job of balancing structure and substance with power and aggressive rawness. Highlights include "Transgressors" and "Fakes," although all of the songs are worth listening to. Everything with the songwriting falls into place as an incredibly enjoyable deathcore record.

Lyrically, this album appears to have two settings: Self-reflecting or spitting acid. On one hand, some of the songs are based on one's own religious introspection, an example being the title track, where the narrator is performing his final "self-harvest" during his last moments. On the other hand, tracks such as "Transgressors" and "Fakes" attack those falsely representing the Christian faith. Even though the latter category has been done plenty of times before, the lyrics are somewhat compelling and solidly written.

While "Separation" was certainly a decent album, "Self Harvest" certainly comes out on top of Ark Of The Covenant's discography. Though it doesn't reach masterpiece levels, it still contains so much to enjoy, including the stellar musicianship, raw production, solid lyrics, and tight songwriting. Fans of "Separation" will not be disappointed listening to "Self Harvest," and it is a nice addition to any deathcore fan's collection.

Score: 8.5/10 (Great+)