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Album Review: Craven Idol – The Shackles of Mammon

About halfway through “A Ripping Strike,” the second track on London-based Craven Idol’s forthcoming sophomore full-length The Shackles of Mammon, I had a though that I don’t usually have when listening to black metal: these dudes sure sound like they’re having a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong – that’s in no way meant to imply that Craven Idol isn’t a serious black metal band. They can be just as wrathful as Watain when the song calls for it, but there’s a punk-rock looseness to the music that’s actually really refreshing for a genre that’s usually pretty grim.

A lot of that looseness stems from the band’s occult-drenched, old-school approach black metal. There’s a lot of Blood Fire Death-era Bathory in their sound, spiked with some thrashiness a la early Slayer, a smattering of Scream Bloody Gore-ish riffing, and a liberal dose of crusty Discharge d-beat. The record’s comes barreling out of the gate at 100mph with the blackened speed-punk of “Pyromancer” and never looks back, rarely dialing down the tempo or the intensity for the rest of the album’s 45-minute run time. The closest they come to slowing things down is on the martial stomp of “The Trudge,” which still rages just as hard as any of the faster tracks and is one of the high points of the album. The other standout is “Hunger,” which reminds me more than a little bit of Death’s “Zombie Ritual” in terms of it’s killer riffs and the interplay of the guitars.

Honestly, there’s not a bum track anywhere on The Shackles of Mammon. Fans of old-school black metal or even more modern black/thrash bands like Destroyer 666 would do well to check them out.

The Shackles of Mammon will be available on April 14 in a variety of formats via Dark Descent.

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