It’s been four years since British extreme metal unit Craven Idol last released an album. And if that record, Towards Eschaton, was a definite improvement on its predecessor, the 2010 EP Ethereal Altars, then this release does exactly the same again, by perhaps an even wider margin.

The Shackles of Mammon is easily Craven Idol’s most cohesive work so far, weaving and enmeshing strands of black, death and thrash metal together to create the most satisfying release of their career to date. The vocals of Immolator of Sadistik Wrath keep things on the blackened side, but perhaps more than ever the music is moving towards – dare I say it – a relatively accessible mix of the three genres already mentioned yet tilting towards an old-school thrash/death mix.

There are definite whispers of Celtic Frost at play in the background of tracks like the album’s closing epic Tottering Cities of Man, though as a fellow English metalhead I do appreciate the definite influence of contemporaries such as Imperial Vengeance and A Forest of Stars in the same track. Akercocke also lodge themselves in the listener’s consciousness throughout the duration of the album, though as yet Craven Idol do not match that band’s sheer bestial savagery at any point.

Guitarist Obscenitor, like Immolator, also serves in Crom Dubh, and occasional strains of that band’s more stately, epic black metal pretension leach into the sound of Craven Idol, though the overall brutality of CI always wins out in the final mix. Songs like A Ripping Strike are possibly where the band sound to be most effective, mixing eastern influences – almost in a ‘normal’ heavy metal style – and basic thrash to achieve a high-impact result. Again, if you like the music of the mid-to-late eighties, when thrash was becoming death, then this is possibly the side of Craven Idol you’ll enjoy most.

Music like that found on The Shackles of Mammon isn’t written to be exactly ‘enjoyable’, of course – but there is a lot of enjoyment to be had if this style of music interests you as much as it does me, so I’m happily recommending this album.

Craven Idol’s The Shackles of Mammon will be released by Dark Descent Records on April 15th.