The good news: "On the Dawning of Light" is better than that first Nine Covens album. Nine Covens is (supposedly) a collaboration of several black metal musicians (supposedly) hailing from the UK, and they (supposedly) are all about doing the black metal thing, basing it on philosophical lyrics that are (supposedly) about mankind and religion and fire and a bunch of other black metal rhetoric, supposedly. Gimmicks may be one thing, but music is another, and "On the Coming of Darkness" proved itself to be a remarkably tepid and defective product. "On the Dawning of Light" has a bit more fire and force than its predecessor, showing a Nine Covens that isn't so afraid to reach out and use more dynamic ideas instead of beating a rotting horse into the ninth level of Hell.
The anonymous coven of Nine Covens (maybe Nine Occultists would've made more sense) sticks to a similar formula found on its debut, somewhat alternating between up-tempo, rapid numbers of scorching black metal and droning, near-minimalist tunes crawling in an atmospheric kind of seduction. Essentially, the improvements from "On the Coming of Darkness" seem to be tenfold: the riffs actually stick, the production sounds alive, the shouting vocalist has somewhat of a presence, the songs have memorable qualities, the band seems tighter, more competent. Believe it or not, it seems there might be actual signs of a real group of musicians actually putting care and thought into their interpretation of black metal.
The bad news: it's like I'm Keanu Reeves, walking with my new friends in the Matrix, when suddenly I see a black cat, and then the same black cat moments later. Déjà vu, in context of the Matrix, is very bad; it doesn't bode too well for Nine Covens, either. Sure, there's an assertive approach here that works a little better, and several tunes make somewhat of an impression, but old habits die hard. This is still uneventful. The gentlemen of Nine Covens have created pretty much a continuation of their first album, leaving a tepid black metal opus that's mired by familiar flaws and faceless elements. Monotonous are the blast beats and fast guitar parts found in any black metal offering ever; characterless are the efforts to make the slowed sections hooking. Did they release the same album twice?
Saying so wouldn't be far from the truth. Giving Nine Covens some credit here..."On the Dawning of Light" has a degree of acceptability to it, one that will stimulate the interests of many black metal enthusiasts. The only problem with this initial attraction, however, is that's all Nine Covens can manage. Close but no cigar. I find myself struggling through each song, waiting for the whole package to roll over and give up. Yes, they manage a few new tricks and pick out some legitimate anthems, but Nine Covens is still lacking and forgettable. Better than their previous record? Yes. A decent release? Hardly. Worth checking out? Don't bother me, I'm sleeping.