While naming such a concept album may be an overextension of the term, Idol consistently deals with recurring themes of mental expansion, conquering the weak, and the consequences of being a prophet of truth. The beauty of this album lies behind its lyrical themes, as the listener is free to interpret them as they see fit. The music’s not half bad either.
Ignoring the album’s lyrical goals is an exercise in futility, as Horrendous forces their listeners to research the various terms and allusions thrown around the album. Such even bleed through into the track titles, with words like “Soothsayer”, “Idolator”, and “Obolus” facing the listener even prior to the press of the play button. This immediately results in a great divide, with listeners either choosing to research and subsequently understand what the album deals with, or to ignore (either willingly or through an inherent inability) the release’s concepts. Furthermore, knowing that Idol deals with themes of population takeover, the Übermensch, and expending yourself across the limits of the human mind, those who ignore the album’s prophecies unknowingly lie within material that mocks them.
Idol incorporates a fair bit of common metal themes such as religion’s overthrow; most of which can be found on “The Idolator” (which can be seen as the album’s title track, in some sense of the word). However, rather than displaying images of upside down crosses and burning churches, Horrendous rather discusses the possibility of a greater being usurping religion’s role within the world. The story eventually concludes with the protagonist, he who seeks a newfound ruler, having been duped by this greater being, who will bring further pain and suffering. The song is ultimately a discussion regarding the abuse of power and the relation between the population’s futile trading of control for leadership. I do not believe that this is an Anarchist’s cry against any form of leadership, as anyone with the ability to properly hold a fork can understand that humans need some form of shepherd to survive, but perhaps “The Idolator” is just a realization that the biblical shepherd happens to be the leader of our generation (although this era is slowly coming to an end), and that humans will perpetually suffer under some sort of ruler. Listen to “The Idolator” below:
On the musical side of things, Horrendous’ progressive flavour of death metal plays right into the aforementioned lyrical themes. The inherent expansive nature of progressive music (be it rock, metal, etc…) offers the listener the ability to be entranced within the seemingly-impromptu nature of the style. With progressive rock groups like Pink Floyd and Mannfred Mann’s Earth Band, the catchy and repetitive nature of their vocals give the listener an element to grasp on to, which is the fundamental pull factor of music itself. However, I feel like progressive death metal further detracts from this catchy factor, as the vocals become more rough, indecipherable, and less predictable. So naturally, I find myself falling out of focus upon listening to Idol (or any progressive death metal record), as there is less for me to grasp on to as a listener. This, however, is not a criticism of the album and is more-so a personal preference.
The tracks on Idol are also fairly diverse, with a complete harmony deducing from various flavours. You’ve got the Pestilence-like vocals throughout the release, which are coupled by some more harmonious clean singing during songs like “Divine Anhedonia.” Furthermore, in addition to the band’s established progressive style, the group isn’t afraid of injecting a few other influences, such as during the thrashier portions of “Devotion (Blood for Ink).” Horrendous does however stick to a particular style throughout the record, they simply differentiate it a bit, which keeps the release feeling fresh.
People have been raving about this new Horrendous release, and rightfully so. From a purely critical and emotionless aspect, Idol is an introspective critique of modern humans, which operates with expansive themes and equally expansive music. I, for one, am not that much of a progressive metal connoisseur, so I wouldn’t necessarily listen to this album again. However, I would recommend that anyone remotely into progressive metal should check this one out.