Century Media Records - The Number ONE in Metal worldwide

Shane Nerenberg
Justin Gianoutsos
Peter Kovalsky
Devin Estep

Church of Inverted Hope. That’s the blackened crux around which Ether Coven have woven nearly an hour’s worth of darkness and light on the band’s third album and first for Century Media; Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering.
Everything…. is an often melodic and mystical, often bludgeoning communion of musical extremes as challenging to the senses as it is utterly fulfilling in its scope and message. It’s an unconventional album where songs push past the ten-minute-plus range effortlessly and keep the listener enthralled. It’s as pained and poetic as music can get; challenging expectations with moody interludes, unexpected acoustic moments and exposed musical nerve endings that call to mind everything from volume dealers like Neurosis and Tragedy to aural experimentalists, Godspeed You Black Emperor!

It’s also the latest chapter of guitarist/vocalist, Peter Kowalsky's musical mission, begun in Southern Florida’s late-90’s hardcore scene, that reached its personal apex with Kowalsky's celebrated hardcore band, Remembering Never. The bellicose sounds of RN records like Women and Children Die First (2004) or God Save Us (2006) set the stage. Ether Coven is both an unexpected creative left-turn and a musical process of "becoming" for its members. The idea for Ether Coven was born from lengthy van conversations between Kowlasky and fellow guitarist/vocalist, Devin Estep about New Orleans sludge bands like Acid Bath and Eyehategod and a desperation to create a sound the members had always been fans of. “I started playing guitar more - and probably got a little too in New Orleans bands,” laughs Kowalsky.
After countless tours and two back-to-back releases on the band’s own Dead Truth Recordings label, Human Error (2016) and There Is Nothing Left For Me Here (2017), both of which were rooted in Kowalsky’s explorations of personal and societal failings, Ether Coven’s gospel began to spread beyond the Floridian underground. Century Media inked the band (rounded out by bassist Shane Nerenberg and drummer Justin Gianoutsos) in 2018 based on a tip from longtime music vet, Michael Alago, the A&R man who had not only signed Metallica and White Zombie, but who also has worked with artists as diverse as Nina Simone, Metal Church and Swans.

Re-christened Ether Coven (adding the “Coven” to the band’s initial name, “Ether”), the band travelled to balmy climes of northern Florida to record at Mana Studios with producer Erik Rutan. Rutan's name and tenure in bands including Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse has become a fixture in extreme music. “I’ve listened to Morbid Angel and a lot of bands he’s been in since I was maybe 12 years old and we lost it when he emailed us back saying he was interested in working with us,” says Kowalsky. “It was the most humbling experience I’ve ever had in my whole life. It was the most prepared I’ve ever been for a record – and when we got there, I realized I wasn’t prepared at all!

Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering is over fifty minutes that pulls the listener in and never lets go. “This House Is a Tomb of Memories” opens the record quietly, only to build into crescendos of volume and emotion. “Flower Crown” is an expression of pure rage and bulldozing riffs, while its follow-up, “As the Noose of the Ever-Changing World Tightens Around Your Neck”, shows Ether Coven’s knack for keeping the listener glued while immersed in their shifting, dramatic soundscapes. “We were trying to be the softest thing and the heaviest thing – we’re trying to push our extremes and make the most emotionally taxing music we can, “says Kowlasky. On the other hand, while the spare chords of “House of Strangers” is a reprieve from Ether Coven’s varying shades of heaviness, it's as engaging as any moments on the album. “{Rutan] definitely never recorded an accordion before and he definitely never recorded a toy piano before!” Peter recounts with a smile.
Through their unabashed heaviness, Ether Coven isn’t a band to shirk from the politics and message of their DIY roots. “There’s layers to it,” says Kowalsky. “I come from a punk and hardcore background and the main thing that drew me to that was that bands had things to say. I get it that a lot of metal-heads and metal bands don’t want to get into politics, but almost every single thing you do has politics involved. You have a job? You want to eat fast food? You’re sick and you need medicine? There’s politics there. It’s interwoven into almost every aspect of our lives.” Gender issues, economic oppression, animal rights and veganism are just some of the issues at the lyrical core of the album, which draws to a close with “Enjoy Life”: “A 13 minute opus to animal exploitation,” says Kowalsky, wryly. “What we talk about are things that are important to all of us and are things that are usually not talked about very directly in this kind of music. Animals should not be used as food, entertainment or clothing. That’s the shallow version it, but if you look at how things have changed over time, just by people speaking about these things, we have Vegan options at Burger King now!”

The album's hauntingly beautiful artwork by Cleveland-based artist, Stephen Kasner lends Ether Coven an even deeper level of creative expression. Kasner's dark, surreal visions, which have adorned the covers of records by SUNN 0)) and Integrity as well as being prominently featured in the horror film, The Devil's Candy, struck a chord with the band. "Integrity's Seasons In The Size of days - I loved that album and [Kasner's] art seemed to represent what the band was going for," says Kowalsky. "His art is jarring and uncomfortable and our music has much of the same feeling. It was a perfect fit." Uncomfortable. Intensely personal and political. Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering is as haunting and expansive a step forward for a band that who are learning to master the extremes of sonic beauty and foreboding. It’s a record that challenges expectations and pushes the listener into places few are capable of.