50 years have passed since Chicago band Coven released their debut record, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, the first example of a band blending rock music with the occult. To further reinforce the tone of Coven's first album, it includes a thirteen-minute selection called "Satanic Mass."
"This box set will be a tribute to 50-years of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and, of course, demon worship."
—Coven vocalist Jinx Dawson
Conceived by the band's producer Bill Traut (credited as Ipsissmus, a reference to the highest order held in Satanism), Traut considered the track to be "first Black Mass to be recorded, either in written word or in audio." Yes, Coven was doing satanic rock before Black Sabbath. In a rather wild moment on MTV in 1986, during her interview with Tony Iommi, VJ Martha Quinn produced a copy of Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, asking Iommi if he had ever seen it before. Iommi's response was, "No."
With respect to God (aka Iommi) and all things Black Sabbath, it seems kind of impossible Iommi was completely unaware of a band that put out an album with a song called "Black Sabbath" and a bass player calling himself Oz Osbourne that proceded them. Even legendary journalist Lester Bangs called Black Sabbath "England's answer to Coven" when he reviewed Sabbath's debut for Rolling Stone. So did Coven serve as inspiration for Black Sabbath back in the day? Perhaps, but solely as it pertains to delving into the kind of jams the devil would spin on a Sunday.
The release of Half a Century of Witchcraft (due out on December 27th), contains five records, including Coven's three studio albums, and is limited to just 1000 copies. It also offers up rare recordings and demos, a 48-page hardcover book, liner notes written by Jinx, and a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity signed by Jinx using her own fucking blood. If that's not enough to satisfy your satanic cravings, check out Metal Injection's exclusive video premiere of Jinx and her "bloodletting" contributions to the box set. Hail Satan!