Have you checked out ‘The Shackles of Mammon’ by UK black metallers Craven Idol? If you haven’t, I urge you to take a listen to the band’s rather storming song ‘A Ripping Strike’ in the video below. It’s as good an introduction and any to the band, and is merely a glimpse of the dark blackened treasures that lie in wait for you on the full album.
In my humble opinion Craven Idol are one of the UK extreme metal scene’s best kept secrets.
Some things shouldn’t remain hidden though. Enter Vrath, here to inform, enlighten and lead the way…
Transcending Obscurity (Nigel Holloway): Who and what are Craven Idol?
Craven Idol (Vrath): Craven Idol are a London-based old school extreme metal band swearing by the first gods.
The current line-up is: Vrath – vocals, guitars, Suspiral – bass, Heretic Blades – drums, Obscenitor – guitar
TO: How did you form?
Craven Idol: Craven Idol was formed in 2005 by Scourger and I. We were two young kids from small towns arriving in London largely for the music scene. It was really as simple as that. A mate of mine mentioned told me about a kickass drummer/guitarist who was into Teutonic thrash and that was that. We jammed in a tiny, crammed, and noisy basement near King’s Cross until we somehow managed to put together our debut demo in 2006.
TO: The Shackles of Mammon is your second album – did you approach this one differently to ‘Towards Eschaton’?
Craven Idol: Very different indeed! Our debut ‘Towards Eschaton’ was perhaps more of a portrait of the band as young men, as it consisted of some material dating way back to the early days. It was also the last work with Scourger as a major contributor.
With ‘Shackles…’ we had a clear plan to create a more varied and aggressive record. All tracks were finalised by drummer Heretic Blades and I (again) in a small rehearsal room near Kentish Town. We then brought the songs to the band (one by one) and deconstructed them entirely…letting them evolve naturally.
TO: Quite a few years have passed between the releases – what have you been up to in the meantime?
Craven Idol: I think when it comes to albums it’s quality not quantity. To my mind, you can’t force creativity or as Bukowski put it in his poem ‘So You Want To Be A Writer?’: “if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.” I have a few other bands on the go, but they are certainly not the reason for the time between albums. I mainly write in massive frenzies where the album comes bursting out of me, so it was a matter of waiting for that (or at least reading enough literature, listening to enough music, watching as many movies, gaining as many experiences as possible to trigger the deluge). All in all, I think it took about a year to write all the material…
TO: Now that you have completed work on the album, what’s your view of it?
Craven Idol: It turned out just as I wanted. I’m happy with every aspect of it. All the songs work as intended and the production is old school as all hell blown asunder. It’s the album I wanted to write from the very start.
TO: If you had it to do over again, would you change anything?
Craven Idol: Honestly, there really isn’t. If anything I’d be worried that we couldn’t replicate some of the killer performances on there!
TO: How do you balance the classic metal/first wave influences in your sound with the more traditional second wave ones?
Craven Idol: This is the key to what we do and you’ll be surprised to find that the balance comes completely naturally and we never talk about it whatsoever. Because we have never established what kind of music we play, we are equally influenced by Mercyful Fate, Candlemass, and Manilla Road, as we are by Bathory, Master’s Hammer, and Sodom.
It’s all about those pioneering days when the rules were few and the ideas many (rather than opposite way round). End of the day, we play what we like and ignore all trends. Damns us to a small following for eternity, but I’d pay that price any day.
TO: Do you have any goals for the album and for 2017 in general?
Craven Idol: To keep the momentum going! We have a release show in London on the 8th of April and an appearance at the North Of The Wall festival in Glasgow the week after.
We are also releasing our 2010 EP ‘Ethereal Altars’ on cassette tape via a small UK label named Carvetii Productions. It was also include covers of Poison (Ger) and Onslaught as bonus, along with our 2006 debut demo! Lastly, we’ve also started writing new material. I’m aiming for a 7” split next!
TO: What are your views on the current state of black metal?
Craven Idol: What would you even classify as black metal these days? It’s fucking everywhere. Commercially available, top-selling, mostly overly repetitive/melodic garbage. And that’s coming from a great supporter of black metal!
Black metal is in a very similar state to the rest of metal when it comes to creativity…in a dark age…a slump. We have perfected many a formula that a bunch of teenagers came up with in the ‘90s sure. And the metal scene worldwide is bigger than ever. But because we have conformed to this pack mentality, we are killing the music. We huddle in scenes that are based on trends…and only that trend is real. Just look at the endless sewage of shite this occult death metal fashion is coming out with…and everybody fucking loves it! Slurp, slurp, slurping that faecal matter into your ears…
Don’t get me wrong, there are decent black metal bands out there, but they are underground (as it was intended).
TO: What’s the UK extreme metal scene like from your point of view?
Craven Idol: Whilst essentially affected by the above phenomenon, The UK extreme metal scene is in a decent shape in many respects. At least the deep underground is.
You just have to look at bands like Grave Miasma, Lvcifyre, Adorior, Indesinence, Esoteric, The Wounded Kings. The scene certainly has its gems. However, it’s hardly the NWOBHM!
TO: Anything you’d like to add to sum up?
Craven Idol: Thanks for the interview! Stand strong against the raging tide!