Wir drehen im Kreis by Immolator of Sadistik Wrath
London’s premium old School extreme metal force Craven Idol unleash their second album of ruthless first wave blackened thrash in the vein of early Bathory, Gospel Of The Horns, Manilla Road, Master's Hammer and Inquisition.
After four years of toil, the UK four-piece presents 'The Shackles Of Mammon', an uncompromising and unique blend of tag-less extreme metal from the early days of horrible hell noise. Inspirations are many; Be it heavy metal Gods such as Mercyful Fate, Candlemass, Sortilege or Manilla Road; Early pioneers like Poison (Ger), Samael, Razor, Bathory, Venom; Pretenders to the throne like Gospel Of The Horns, D666, Inquisition…
But don’t be fooled – this is no tribute act. Recorded at Birmingham’s Priority Studios and engineered by Esoteric’s Greg Chandler (and mastered by Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound), 'The Shackles Of Mammon' boasts an old school production as well as Craven Idol’s most fierce and varied songs to date. The album boasts artwork by the extraordinarily twisted Daniel Corcuera. The artist’s powerful take on Sascha Schneider’s 1896 wood carving ‘Mammon und sein Sklave’ is a striking work of art. Lyrically the album deals with the vices of man, the plagues they unleashed upon themselves, and the rationalisation of its own actions – be it in tragedy or ruin – through the creation of deities and cults. Mammon the - Demon of Avarice - reigns above all, whilst the black arts and countless religions seek to justify human failure.
I would dub our music as first wave extreme metal. Of course, we only formed decades after said wave, however, it was this era in music that hooked us and sent us down the left-hand path. The late ‘80s were an era without limitations and genre constraints. The goal was to write freely and be the most extreme band out there. The strict borders imposed Norwegian black metal hadn’t tarnished the scene, and copying one another was frowned upon (whilst now it is actively encouraged).
The writing process for the record was pleasant, but also taxing. It was our first release without J. Scourger, who founded the band with me in 2005. Luckily, we had already trained up a new stickman before his departure, so the gap wasn’t too severe. The album was primarily written at Creation Studios in Kentish Town, London – a tiny underground rehearsal space so loud one could easily lose their hearing without sufficient protection. It is a bizarre place, which I believe is fabled to have been a meth lab back in the day.
The key to writing is to let the songs twist and turn by themselves… to play them until death. They will eventually mould into the final piece… but it’s not a process that comes easy. The key is to never sell one short and say ‘well that’s done next one. I’m not a believer in writing 20 songs and picking the best ones. I want every track to reach it absolute potential… and if it doesn’t make the cut, that’s it.
We finally recorded in at Priory Studios near Birmingham, England, with producer Greg Chandler of Esoteric fame. It was the best recording experience we’ve had thus far!
‘The Shackles Of Mammon’, a title strongly connected to the artwork, refers to the folly of man and his self-created hell. Lyrical themes are broad and I have gone into considerable detail in the artwork-based question below. On a basic level, it is a record about the demon of Avarice’s power over mankind; the power of a figment of our own imagination that rules our every-day life and makes us miserable. It is a self-wrought web that consumes us… the crippling creation of masochist narcissists.
Non-sonic matter influences me to more-or-less an equal level as the music itself. I never aim to copy or mimic acts that I admire (though, no doubt nuances do subconsciously make their way into the songs), hence I’d never listen to, say, 'Black Mark' by Bathory and start writing frantically… there’s no value in imitation. There’s no point in eulogising in your own work. By far my most intense writing frenzies have come from literature and art. I studied literature at university and remain a keen reader. For this record, in particular, writers such as Vonnegut, PK Dick, Bester, Kafka, Bukowski, Goethe, and artists such as Otto Dix, Lönnrot, and Hakosai have had an immense impact on me…
As a great fan of vinyl, artwork – and in fact the entire layout – is absolutely paramount to the final piece. We work closely with the artist to achieve the desired effect. Handpicking the painter is key and we went for the great Daniel Corcuera on this occasion – his disturbing and cryptic approach appealed to us. The basis for the artwork on ‘The Shackles Of Mammon’ is a 1896 wood carving by one Sascha Schneider titled ‘Der Mammon Und Sein Sklave’, depicting a similar, yet more barren version of the cover. We wanted to merge the eerie landscape and powerful metaphor presented by Schneider with Daniel’s black arts… and I believe the result is a triumph!
The painting displays the demon of avarice, Mammon, standing over fallen mankind, dangling over his head – way out of reach – the measure of his dreams: currency. In the background his legacy in razed by the flames of vanity. Yet the depicted milieu is not one of fact or reality. It is a self-made hell. The ruin of mankind may be real, but the rest is not; Mammon, the shackles, the visions in flame, currency… all products of his rotten mind.
Man is petrified by failure, so he invents gods as a form of pretext, to explain his actions, herring, and greed. It’s an excuse for his flaws… and he is addicted to exploiting it whenever possible. Another topic on the album is that of pyromancy, as well as the myths around the fire. Fire is the destroyer, often times a self-sparked one. 'Visions in flames' disclosing a fate set in stone… merely a means of control (as is all religion for that matter). The argument, of course, exists that as demons such as Mammon have a bigger influence on our existence than any one human being, he/she is, in fact, more real than any of us. All of the a sudden the phantom chains weigh us down to the ground where the dead men go.
Artwork-wise, we also strive to create continuity. Whilst we have used different artists, such as Paolo Girardi on our debut ‘Towards Eschaton’, we aim to create a sense of sinking ever deeper into Hades… flowing downwards.
For example, our EP, 'Ethereal Altars', depicts a doorway to a different realm. 'Towards Eschaton' then, reveals what lies beyond the portal, whilst 'The Shackles Of Mammon' delves ever deeper into the bottomless pit. The continuity in colour is also key to us. When lining our three vinyl releases next to each other, one can truly see the continuity… the journey ever downwards.
I would say we are better song writers… but the I would imagine anyone thinks that when it comes to their own music. Writing is about self-discovery, challenge, and learning – so I don’t see why anyone would put a record out that was a step down from a previous one (except perhaps monetary purposes for bigger acts). Anyways, beyond speculation, we have grown stronger a band unit. “New” drummer Heretic Blades (who joined around 3 years ago) has done a sterling job in filling the considerably large boots of the departed J. Scourger, and we have developed into a strong writing team. Bassist Susprial still holds the fort on bass, whilst Crom Dubh’s Obscenitor has stepped in on the second axe. Frequent rehearsals have made us into a tight live force and we are writing more material than ever before. In fact, we are already planning a trip to the studio in December of this year (2017) for an EP.
As far as the evolution of writing is concerned, I would say that the older I get, the less I'm bothered by what people think. No disrespect toward the press, but I couldn’t care any less as to what a reviewer thinks of my music. This album is a manifestation of a lot of anger, frustration, and loathing, translated into pissed of extreme metal. The more I let go of the social, the better I become as a musician. It opens the floodgates for new material to be created. At the time of writing it has been almost exactly one year since we entered the studio to record our second album. Despite having no material kicking about after the recording, Heretic Blades and I have written almost an album worths of tracks… it’s pretty safe to say you won’t have to wait for half-a-decade for the next record to hit the shelves!
Today’s scene displays a lot of the characteristics of a commercial type of music. The evolution of metal itself has stagnated beyond repair; whilst kids listen to bands that shamelessly (and poorly, I might add) imitate the masters of old. This creates a poisonous loop of worthless music… and no matter what you tell me about attention spans being shorter these days, there’s nothing that stops folks from listening than mediocrity. And that’s the word for the scene today: Mediocre… and certainly not inspiring. No longer are the pathfinders… we dread on the spot like Aguirre on his raft. We’ve long accepted that tales of El Dorado were nothing but lies… we believe in nothing but cheap hooks and flashy production. Wir drehen im Kreis…
Interview by Alex Milazzo - Copyright 2017 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.