Craven Idol hail from London but you suspect the Dickensian alleyways, lairs and smog submerged rooftops they inhabit are a world away from the glitzy metropolis that visitors the world over come to see.
If there is a filthy nook or cranny still to be found in the capital then that’s where you’ll find this quartet whose brand of punishing extreme metal would send your average coachload of tourists scurrying off down Oxford Street quicker than a pickpocket would have it away with your wallet.
Craven Idol’s second full length release, via Dark Descent, opens with ‘Pyromancer,’ a two-minute flaming firestorm of a start. It’s bestial, depraved and desperate so prepare to take the bruises if you get caught in the caustic crossfire. The tempo is raging, the guitars dangerously sharpened at the tips and vocally Vrath unleashes his screeched satanic cries that warn all within earshot of its putrid presence.
Things begin to settle down on ‘A Ripping Strike,’ a song that marks the debut of Craven Idol newcomers Heretic Blades on drums and guitarist Obscenitor (also of Crom Dubh). A brief choral echo in the distance is the only sign of humanity in an otherwise stark soundscape. When the song clicks up a notch the vocals are given room to manoeuvre and once more they are strained and sinewed as though fighting for supremacy over the all-encompassing aural explosion.
‘Black Flame Divination’ opens with a deep bass cut and once the whole instrumental infantry fall into line the chaos builds again as Craven Idol unleash their customary blitzkrieg approach, with the very foundations of anything close by tested to the limit. A pummelling mid-drum sequence gives Vrath a moment to gulp down some air, before the ballistic blasts continue.
There’s a huge hairy intro to ‘The Trudge’ with the Londoners taking a step back from the full-on venomous kicks in favour of a more cultivated riff pattern that is quite magnificent in both shape and definition. This time the vocals are more in the form of barked orders rather than Vrath’s insane caterwauls while the arrangement is altogether more ordered without losing any of the intensity levels.
‘Mammon Est’ and ‘Hunger’ are incisive cuts of Luciferian fury which threaten to suck the air from the room as charred sonic twisters spin dangerously out of control amidst a maniacal maelstrom of ever shifting grooves and ear-drum bursting percussive assaults. Craven Idol do not lack targets for their vitriolic volleys of abuse, ranging from pestilence to power and man’s inherent weaknesses and in built capacity for corruptive influences.
‘Tottering Cities of Men’ is the album’s longest track, at around eight minutes, and one of the most commanding, methodical waves of sound given space within the more destructive passages, but the ebb and flow combining effectively to create an imposing composition that draws you in like a prize catch.
It would be remiss not to acknowledge the stunning sleeve, courtesy of the talented Daniel Corcuera. It features the artist’s personal impression of Sascha Schneider’s 1896 wood carving ‘Mammon und sein Sklave’.
The Shackles of Mammon’s roots hark back to the likes of Sodom but while the aural battering inflicted here is old school to its charred core, the sense of urgency and vitality ensure that Craven Idol will resonate as powerfully today as their spiritual forefathers did a quarter of a century ago.
- April 8th – London @ Black Heart
- April 15th – Glasgow @ North Of The Wall Fest
- May 15th – London @ Underworld w/ Nifelheim
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