Craven Idol brush off vintage death metal chaos, eviserate vices on ‘Shackles of Mammon’

Photo by Jack Latimer

It’s fitting that an old, crusty sound could reach back into the annals of time and feast upon something that has afflicted humankind for ages. Just like the best death metal tends to prey upon our fears and the disgust inherent in murder, violence, and decay, so too can it address other horrors that eat away at us for completely different reasons and that can be just as ugly.

UK-based death troupe Craven Idol sound as tried and true of old school death metal bands come these days. Their ferocious, unhinged approach feels genuine, and while some could guess this band is paying homage to, say, Bathory, Venom, or Bolt Thrower, they instead are continuing to cut the same bloody path and extend it into the future. But beside the sound of “The Shackles of Mammon,” their second album, is the aforementioned unearthing of subject matter as old as civilization, namely people’s tendencies toward vices, their destructive nature, and the justification of said ways. Much of that pokes at humankind’s reliance on religions in a way to make good for what they do wrong to themselves, others, and society as a whole, a plague that remains feasting at our collective veins. The band—guitarist/vocalist Immolator of Sadistik Wrath, guitarist Obscenitor, bassist Suspiral, and drummer Heretic Blades—brings a savagery and primitive fire to these songs that can tear you apart and leave your rotting corpse vulnerable to anything that wishes to gnaw from your bones.

“Pyromancer” eats the heads off this thing, with guitars ripping and wild howls smeared over everything. The chorus is a simple, pulverizing piece that’s actually pretty fun, and the final moments are taken out in a quick blast. “A Ripping Strike” is eerie at the start before it lives up to its title, as guitars churn, and the pace kills. Heavy shrieks crush before the effective chorus hits, and then weird speaking that chills your bones lands. The soloing is fiery and fluid, with the band taking on a Maiden-esque fit of glory before the song rushes out. “Black Flame Divination” is deadly and gut-ripping, with the vocals sounding unhinged. But once again, a very direct chorus shows the strength of brevity. The track is fast and ferocious right up until it ends. “The Trudge” is one of the longest cuts here, running 7:45 and taking its time developing a thrashy pace. Parts of the song are more tempered but still remarkably heavy, as the piece chugs and melts into sticky doom. Guitars scorch and vocals slash before its blazing finish.

“Dashed to Death” has boiling guitar work as the music begins to stomp, with the vocals a mix of gurgling growls and massive shrieks. The playing agitates, with Immolator of Sadistik Wrath wailing, “Kill for your god!” before the tempo picks up again and pulls scabs off your wounds. “Mammon Est” is speedy and nasty, with searing guitar leads doing damage to your soul and your ears. The howls are filthy and the playing is reckless, before everything blasts out. “Hunger” hits the gas pedal again, as Immolator of Sadistik Wrath unleashes throaty growls to add more blood to the raging pace. Later, some strange, slurry soloing pushes in, adding an extra dose of weirdness to a final half that’s pretty damn odd. Closer “Tottering Cities of Mon” is the longest piece at 8:37, with a deliberate pace taking time to accumulate bodies, mashing you into slow-driving hell. Later, some classic metal guitar work brings an even deeper vintage edge, while an unsettling dialog grabs your attention, and the playing disappears into a pocket of strangeness.

Craven Idol have both a stranglehold on the ills of what keeps society such a miserable place as well as what makes classic death metal so great. “The Shackles of Mammon” is a fire-breathing, satisfying piece that feels organically violent and always unsettling. If you can’t find all the death metal nourishment you need out of Craven Idol, you’re likely doing it wrong.

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