Album Review: Craven Idol – ‘Forked Tongues’

The devil sends the beast with wrath, for he knows the songs are long

As the 43rd president of the United States famously said, the problem with the Greeks is that they don’t have a word for apocalypse. Well, won’t he be getting the shock of his life when the DHL package arrives from Dark Descent’s Colorado Springs headquarters containing his first-press vinyl of Craven Idol’s latest fire-breather. The third studio album from the North London blackened-thrash classics enthusiasts is the alpha and omega of heavy metal meditations on Ancient Greece’s eschatological mythos. And, as it turns out, Armageddon is much-changed over the years.

It was a lot more colorful in those days. There was no duck-and-cover for Democritus, no mushroom clouds over the Parthenon. Delivered over savage second-wave black metal riffs, Viking stein-swinging grooves and full-blast pummeling with whiplash tempo changes, Craven Idol portray these end times via a spectacular display of audio bloodletting, moral turpitude and beast worship. Listening to the epic “Deify the Stormgod,” its lightning-feel changes and dimension-ripping extremity is truly exhilarating, akin to those moments of awe when, as a child, you first saw Harryhausen’s stop-motion Talos awaken in Jason and the Argonauts.

Sometimes we forget that extreme metal is in the entertainment business. It doesn’t matter that we might hear a Bathory riff abutting an upcycled NWOBHM melody because quality songwriting is the great emulsifier, and Craven Idol are on-point. Furthermore, it is the performances that count, as exemplified on the title track, a blackened thrash tour de force that plays gangbusters on record, but sounds engineered for the stage. Or, ya know, for the end of the world—whichever comes first.

Review taken from the August 2021 issue of Decibel, which is available here.