Craven Idol - The Shackles of MammonWhen I’m not knee-deep in moonlight and grave-soil, espousing the charnel delights of death metal’s immortal old-school, I can be found belligerently vibrating in the eye of a thrash storm, armed with only the most hostile and confrontational of riffs. S. Vrath is a man that well knows my plight. Guitarist, vocalist, and sometimes bassist of Scythian and Craven Idol, here is an individual that understands the importance of a well-forged riff and the immediate implications for my beleaguered vertebrae. Poised to release their second full-length, The Shackles of Mammon, British blackened thrashers Craven Idol spent the last 4 years in the wake of their impressive debut further honing the thrash-lash, ready to inflict a steady maelstrom of molten rhythms and incendiary leads — but can their latest collection of jagged edges sate my bestial urges? I love the smell of black-thrash in the morning!

Craven Idol, if you are unfamiliar with them, play an indulgent form of black-thrash, one which borrows from the likes of luminaries Bathory and the early Teutonic thrash scene whilst never shying away from black metal’s notorious second wave. The Shackles of Mammon introduces us to a somewhat re-engineered band, with Jesel Gohil and Mike Beonetleah taking up the mantle of drummer and guitarist respectively. Perhaps in part thanks to this new blood, this second offering is a noticeably more mature and altogether superior beast – thankfully, however, Vrath and co. haven’t chosen to shy away from the occasional old fashioned face-melter following this newfound growth. “Pyromancer” ignites the record and wastes nary a second in flaying flesh from bone, with sirens of storied tremolos and S. Vrath’s maniacal screaming peeling away the layers. It’s a statement piece, wreathed in spite and billowing smoke from its lungs, it also manages to belie the album’s deceptively varied content.

If you were lucky enough to find Scythian‘s latest album, Hubris in Excelsis, on your radar then you’ll have an idea as to S. Vrath’s penchant for dynamic yet mercurial rhythms. His work on Shackles is no departure, with the Kreator friendly “A Ripping Strike” revealing a veritable library of mouth-watering riffs. Comparatively mid-paced in nature, it makes bold use of Vrath and Beonetleah’s dual guitar lines and rifles through a collection of absolutely deadly hooks. Exotic eastern melodies float atop Gohil’s tantrum of blasting while the chorus mimics classic Mille Petrozza. Craven Idol have a tendency to eschew the feral scowl inherent in acts like Aura Noir‘s upfront material in favor of a more classic and, in the parlance of teens everywhere, “epic” sound. They also know exactly when to squarely introduce boot to face – such is the case with the Venom-on-steroids “Black Flame Divination,” recalling the very best of Cronos’ blackened brigadiers, and shrieking through its brief run time with banshee abandon.

Craven Idol 2017Some of these things, however, are not like the others. With such a dynamic first half, the album’s last few cuts are lacking in comparison. The songs are above average but don’t quite measure up when stacked against their rabid brethren. I enjoy the last three tracks when they are present, but, like some gossamer memory, after I’ve hit repeat to be resolutely horse-whipped by “Pyromancer” and “A Ripping Strike” for the umpteenth time, I find them mysteriously difficult to recall. A prime offender is closer “Tottering Cities of Man.” The lurching pace of its doom inspired gait seems to descend into a shuffle before its overlong run-time flickers out, and what was clearly designed to be a monumental end staggers under its own weight — a pity when cuts like “Dashed to Death” and specifically “The Trudge” utilize more measured tempos to fantastic effect, fusing the album’s inviting production with an emphasis on the German thrash of yore and the chill of Norwegian black metal’s distinct guitar style.

Craven Idol have undoubtedly improved upon their blistering debut by reinforcing the follow up with enhanced structure and cohesion. Although The Shackles of Mammon does have a tendency to play it safe with a handful of tracks, the lack of compromise in the album’s main body is exemplary of the category’s savagery and left me smoldering and spent for much of our time together. If you have even a passing interest in the advancement of the genre or find yourself hankering for a little soul-thrashing black sorcery — and if not, why not — then rest assured this is the record to scorch that itch. Cast aside your false idols — embrace thy Craven masters!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: facebook.com/cravenidol
Releases Worldwide: April 14th, 2017

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  • I completely agree with the rating. I find the latter half to be well on par with the first. Maybe because I found A Ripping Strike to be a bit too straight forward, or because I find it pleasant to chill down with more doomful and dreamy Tottering Cities of Men at the end.

    What I love the most is the perfect combination of good airy dynamics in both material and production, and how it has this timeless sense forming an artificial bridge that spans three decades and unites two eras.

    • Drew Music

      Bathory influence, a glowing AMG review with a 3.5 rating AND Gorger approved? Sign me up!

      • Hehehe… It’s on bandcamp, so check it out.

        • Drew Music

          Was not disappointed, they most likely have dibs on my paycheck at this point.
          Also, while you’re here, since it was one your most recent lists that lead me to them and no one else has addressed it in any other reviews I’ve looked up…
          Is it just me, or does Spiritus/Sulphur by Dead Limbs have an absolute fuck-ton of Ghost Bath worship going on in it? The Agalloch and Mgla references everyone and the band makes, sure, totally, but I feel like there are some clear Ghost Bath echoes and even outright thefts going on there and no one seems to have anything to say about it. I get that they are not particularly loved at large, but I can’t be the only person familiar enough with the actual music of Ghost Bath, as opposed to just ripping on the vocals and panning them as a Deafheaven clone, to know it when I hear it… can I?

          • As a thumb-rule, I’ve had it up to here with most post-metal, and the majority of atmospheric black metal is just as generic in my very subjective opinion.

            The only Ghost Bath I’ve heard is Moonlover, witch honestly left me rather indifferent. As you know, I enjoyed Dead Limbs, though.

            Only nuances separates these from each other, and they both have a thing or two in common with Agalloch and Alcest to name a few (but important).

            I feel that Ghost Bath is a bit too soaring, with an almost lighthearted touch, whilst Dead Limbs has a more roaring guitar and more mournful moods.

            Mgla references?!? Don’t hear them. Don’t want to hear them ;)

          • Drew Music

            I can see Ghost Bath being too soaring, while I do love Moonlover it’s not an album I tend to play if I’m on an actual black-anything metal tangent. Dead Limbs is certainly more aggressive and intense with their sonic despair, it just surprises me that (what I hear as) their obvious Ghost Bath love has gone largely unacknowledged. Who knows, maybe I just listened to Moonlover too recently. Either way I’m a fan of both and have zero complaints about either, aside from the fact that I need more music from them.

  • Zby Zby

    I like this, I get a ninties vibe. Thanks amg, found a few new bands here.

  • Reese Burns

    Everyone on Instagram has been going nuts over this record. Suppose I oughta see what all the fuss is about.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      True, while I’d definitely say it lives up to most of the hype, my feed has been aptly saturated by this point in time.

      • Reese Burns

        Funny, I never really pictured you as one to use Instagram. But yeah, Instagram’s basically how I keep up with most major releases. Whenever something comes out, it’ll fill up my feed for about a week before something else comes along.

        • Diego Molero

          I never really pictured YOU as one to use Instagram :p

          • Reese Burns

            Haha, yeah. I’ve had an account since last March if I’m remembering right. The name’s vinyl_reese if you happen to use the app!

          • Diego Molero

            I actually don’t. Never really caught my atention. The only social app I use is Facebook, and I only create that account like 9 years ago when I was a little boy so I could play Pet Society and such. Apart from that, angrymetalguy is as much as I interact on the Internet (or the world.)
            Cool username though.

          • Thatguy

            You have to interact.

          • Reese Burns

            Him and I are a bit to young to have wives forcing us to go out and socialize with the masses… so back into our dark caves we go..

          • Diego Molero

            I’m highly introverted, so I don’t do that!

          • Diego Molero

            Btw, I took a quick look on your Instagram page out of curiosity (I can do that without an actual account of my own), and is really cool. You have an awesome collection and that Exhuming the Underground thing was pretty cool, real dedication right there.

          • Reese Burns

            Thanks man! Every once in a while I go back and read through my old posts and notice some really stupid typos, so hopefully things weren’t too dire! But that seriously means a lot!

          • Diego Molero

            You’re welcome ;) Hey, everybody do typos, so I wouldn’t worry to much about that. I will eventually check out those 100 bands, I know quite a few already for what I read, but some I don’t, and I usually like all of your recommendations. So I’m eager for more new music!

          • Reese Burns

            Sweet! I’m hoping to do some more cool stuff once I get more followers and such, next I’m thinking of doing some sorta top ten underground labels, or something along those lines

          • Diego Molero

            Nice, count me in! You have one (un)official follower.

          • Reese Burns

            Thanks man!

        • Serjien

          Interesting… so there is something useful about Instagram after all!!!

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            You can learn about a lot of metal ridiculously fast when the app you are using does nothing but display photos and small captions! Worth taking a look into the metal community on there; we are a lively bunch!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Any recommendations on which accounts to follow?

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            of course you should check out @vinyl_reese
            you can also try:
            @vomitorzum
            @metal_moleman
            @jay_blue15
            @scourge_of_vinyl
            @hereswhatihear
            @altars_of_moss
            @cryptologous
            @red_666
            @guldsevinyl
            @carrier_of_wounds
            @simonxsludge

            some of those are review pages, some are just general recommendation pages.

            pretty much any metal-based vinyl pages are worth looking at because the people who run the pages have the money and collections to keep things interesting! happy hunting

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Thanks!

          • Reese Burns

            If you stick with the metal/music stuff, yeah. Outside of that… well, enter with caution.

          • Art Vandelay

            Are there any particular people to follow that you would recommend I follow to find out about new bands?

          • Reese Burns

            Well, my account is vinyl_reese, but some of the accounts I follow are cadavergarden, Cryptologues (who is actually AlphaBetaFoxFace from the comments here), hereswhatihear is a good review account, ashes_of_stars is a good black metal account, and artofblackmetal is probably the account I’ve discovered the most music from.

          • Art Vandelay

            Thanks. I started following you, I’m jeremycaves85

          • Reese Burns

            Great, thanks man!

          • Serjien

            Sounds good. I will enter this world, I hope I don’t regret it! Thanks for the tip!

          • Serjien

            Also, you meant cryptologous, correct?

  • SegaGenitals

    Love love that album art!

  • Johan

    A 2017 release with DR 9 that is not progrock? What is this necromancy??

    • Glad I’m not the only one who was like…wait a minute…

      • Have you ever made a “most dynamic releases of the year” list? If not, you ought to start working on a 2017 list right now, and present it in a Metal-Fi post in December or January.

        Here’s the best I’ve come across and taken notice of in addition to Craven Idol thus far. Not a lot, unfortunately.
        DR8: Deathkin – Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta
        DR8: Frowning – Extinct
        DR10: Beastcraft – The Infernal Gospels Of Primitive Devil Worship (originally recorded in 95/96, but only properly released now)
        DR11: The Ominous Circle – Appaling Ascension

        • We have our Best and Worst sounding list every year. It’s incorporated into that.

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    Not bad. The embedded track has some nice riffs and the vocals are pretty solid, but it’s still not anything I feel like I’d miss by skipping it. Black and thrashy doesn’t do it for me, I’m too far gone into the prog infused realm.

  • Drew Music

    Oh my fuck… I waited til I got outta work this morning to actually listen to this (a ritual for which I will forever be grateful to have, seriously y’all are a big part of my miniverse and you angry metal demon-spawn fucking rock for it) and man was I more than rewarded for my patience. It’s so nice to hear black metal that sounds like black metal, these guys are probably getting my money.

  • Art Vandelay

    Oh my….this fucking rips. AotY contender. Love me some Blackened Thrash.

  • rumour_control

    GOLD in a GOLD review:
    “…find yourself hankering for a little soul-thrashing black sorcery — and if not, why not…”

  • Bearded_Relic

    Given the amount of time I spend perusing this fine site and its fantastic reviews I thought it was high time I actually created an account and started contributing to the discussion(s). Enjoyed the embedded track so much I immediately snapped up the album from bandcamp. Thanks for heaping another serve of great music on my plate! Brilliant review by the way too – I particularly like the opening paragraph.