Written by: Blackie Skulless
Truly, I have picked an incredible year to dive into black metal. Between the latest Wode release, and now this devastating beast of a group known as Craven Idol, I can’t have found a better time to jump balls-deep into this horrendous style of extreme metal. Craven Idol has been around since the early 2000s, hailing from London, England. Their third effort Forked Tongues follows the tales of the ancient serpentine beast known as Typhon, a titan of Greek mythology. I was not ready for this.
With a cover depicting Earth on the cusp of burning to nothingness, we’re met with music that blasts the Olympian narrative deep into your ears with unforgiving black metal riffing, erupting drum-blasts, and varying vocal shrieks. The occasional dropping of a death-tinted growl and oh-so subtle falsettos work in an even broader scope of madness. To be even more over-the-top, the constant use of a noisy riff gradient keeps the bottom hot. On the upper levels, you’ve got wailing passages that introduce some signs of melody, making this a monster you have to submerge your attention in to catch it all.
And with an experience like that, you’re not going to want to waste it as a “background album.” Not a second to escape the horror is left as the story starts with “Venomous Rites,” cooking the atmosphere with wave-pools of tremolo over harsh riff walls. Every track gradually cakes on a subtle amount of terror, lacing this thing with every ounce of skull-fucking aggression they have. “The Wrath Of Typhon” establishes this feeling right away, introducing the dark creature early on. By the time you reach the title track, you’re left with nothing but vengeful anger and terror, fired off with the most crushing drum blasts and punishing vocals you can possibly want for this.
Oh baby, I wish that’s all there was to it. Well, actually, I don’t, but Forked Tongues is almost as overwhelming to talk about as it is to gather everything up. The last third of the title track drastically sinks everything in boiling lava, building up to an eruptive ending with dropped rhythms and a doomy, slow presence for maximum effect. It reaches a point where the vocalist actually sounds as terrified as the image they’re projecting, fitting the character in the position so wonderfully. This tune is also glossed over with stormy effects to help the overwhelming feeling once the proverbial volcano erupts.
When you near the end, you get a bit closer to the traditional black metal construction, utilizing two long songs that are near the ten-minute mark. “Defy The Stormgod” implements chants, overloading tremeloes, and adding some atmosphere that was a bit harder to feel on the intense, early tracks. I also love how the somewhat melodic leads make a return here for transitional purposes more than anything, allowing you to get lost in the insane amount of riffs. This segues into the other epic, a closer known as “The Gods Have Left Us For Dead.” This just breathes emptiness and sorrow in the darkest way, invoking the feeling of your soul being devoured and damned forever.
Unbelievable. If you told me even a year ago that I’d love a black metal record this much, I’d have laughed in your face. Craven Idol is a new discovery of mine, and this review really can’t do them justice. I’m gonna read back on this in a few months and get mad that I didn’t say more. But man, talk about an album that takes a dark narrative and bludgeons you with every ounce of energy each musician can offer up to drop a payload of hysteria. There is no love here; just suffering, pain, and soul-fucking black metal. I’ll stop being a simp. Listen to this album.
Craven Idol - Forked Tongues will be released July 23rd, 2021 via Dark Descent
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!