(To start off our week, TheMadIsraeli reviews the lucky 13th studio album from Germany’s Kreator.)
Why the fuck do I seem to be in the minority for liking thrash metal in today’s scene? I think people have gotten too spoiled on pretentious, boring, modern metal like post-SYL Devin Townsend and Between the Buried and Me to realize what brutality or savagery is any more.
Thrash metal IS metal at its very core. It captures the essence of it, quantifiably, in such a way that I don’t understand how anyone could dislike it. The dislike of the vocals especially baffles me. Yeah, thrash vocalists who actually try to do bullshit like sing need to get the fuck out, but it’s beyond me when people fail to see the rabid ferocity in, like, you know, SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS AT THE RISK OF COMPLETELY DESTROYING YOUR VOCAL CHORDS!
Anyone who is willing to put their voice on the line for metal earns my seal of approval. What thrash vocalists such as Tom Araya do can’t be buffered all that much by technique. It’s the very reason he and some others sound like shit nowadays.
Mille Petrozza, though, has somehow managed to keep shrieking like a banshee without an end in sight and has never lost a bit of the venom in his voice. On the riffing front, his sword has also not dulled one iota either. He’s persisted against all odds with Kreator, who really, at this point, are just Mille and company in my view.
The man has been willing to go through some bold experimentation. Even if the band DID suck immense ass at one time (Endorama anyone?), once Mille decided to overhaul Kreator’s sound in a seemingly permanent direction with Violent Revolution, he’s proven that the Kreator name is more than viable in the modern metal world, and in some ways he’s kept it ahead of the curve.
The interesting mix of late-80’s technical thrash and mid-90’s melodic death metal really took off with Enemy of God. Hordes of Chaos saw only further evolution of this new Kreation (hur hur, see what I did there?), and it goes without saying that Phantom Antichrist is accelerated excellence at its prime. This IS the band’s best album since their heyday. It has really floored me with how well composed it is.
Really, here’s the key: This album pumps out quality riffs by the second. Riffs that tear you asunder like a hailstorm of shurikens from above. I would wager that Mille woke up one day frothing at the mouth with piss and vinegar and decided that Kreator hadn’t quite melted enough faces.
The album’s opening instrumental “Mars Mantra” is a bit deceptive, with its sober, morose, clean intro and eerie chanting over the music. Once the distorted guitars kick in, the mood turns heroic, triumphant, and defiant all at once. The way this anthem-like piece of metal might slithers its way into the album’s official opener (the title track — this seems to be a fad lately) really amps you up for the devastation to come.
The riffs are blistering, intelligent, and caustic, while Mille is at it again with his venomous snarl and rabid howls. His vocal delivery has such unbending conviction that it carries the teeth of wolves, sinking into your skull.
“Death to the World” delivers an even harder dose of lethal riff poison with sharp, cutting, pedal-point riffage that has a prominent melodic death metal vibe. The best part of the song for me, however, is the post-solo dual-guitar theme played by Mille and co-guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö.
“From Flood Into Fire” is an odd anthem-like piece that carries (for this band) a very weird humanistic message. Subdued riffs and an emphasis on melodies driven by leads are mainly what’s served up here. However, the band break into an octane-fueled firestorm in the middle of the song’s second chorus, with Sami bringing the shred. The second solo when the song slows back down, however, is really the high point, showcasing the wisdom of the decision to bring Sami in as the band’s second guitarist following Violent Revolution. The chorus, as full of ham and cheese as it is, also happens to be stupidly catchy. Good stuff.
“Civilization Collapse” is undoubtedly my favorite song on the album. The riffs are just downright legendary, piercing through to the bone, and the frantic, Death-like song structuring doesn’t hurt either. The intro screams of melodic death metallers Amon Amarth, but careens itself into a melodic thrash fest that is both technical and hard-hitting. The tempo and overall feel changes again for the song’s climatic chorus. The finale of this song is also quite powerful. A simple, ballsy riff that is accompanied by some kind of tribal percussion in back that ends in the explosion of an explosion. Bad-fucking-ass stuff.
The rest of the album is pretty business as usual from here on. I mean, it’s dynamic thrash with tons of good riffs, epic melodic sections, and abounding shred. It’s everything this style should be.
I got the pre-order of this album that came with a DVD that included a documentary of the making of the album along with an excellently filmed and mixed show of songs taken from Wacken 2008 and 2011 performances.
The documentary, “Conqueror Of The Ice”, gives a pretty good insight into the nature of this album and how the band viewed it. Phantom Antichrist, to them, marks the height of the sound they’ve been carrying since Violent Revolution, and while it is the natural progression of the sound, it is also a celebration of it. This album definitely has something of an adventurous and right-at-the-edge-of-cheese vibe to it, but one that I find immensely enjoyable and gripping. These are merely layers added on top of the complex yet vicious creature that is Kreator.
The mixing by Jens Bogren is superb, providing plenty of punch and grit with the bass frequencies sitting at exactly the perfect spot. This is one of the most solid, in-the-pocket kick-drums I’ve ever heard in a metal album, by the way. It’s audible enough to provide the punch behind the napalm-spraying riffs and avoids the trap of being either too clicky or too rumbly. It has a fat impact that really emphasizes the militant attack the band has designed.
The performances are fantastic, as always, although Kreator isn’t about any stand-out members so much as the product of four dudes becoming one sonic session of knife torture. They’ve been one of the few thrash bands who have kept the flame alive, as it were, alongside countrymen Sodom and other old-school bands who got the recognition shaft, like Forbidden and Artillery.
Kreator, though, like Sodom (or even their other countrymen Destruction) seem to be one of the few old-school thrash band with a set of balls left on them. Don’t get me wrong, the music of the other bands mentioned is great, but Kreator still deliver a fatal impact, as if still living the days of Pleasure To Kill. The only difference is it’s a calculated bludgeoning as opposed to a berserker rage.
I’ll have to wait out the year and see. This might be a top 10 of the year for me, though I’m not sure. I DO know one thing, though: This album kicks serious fucking ass.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phantom Antichrist is out now on the Nuclear Blast label, and can be ordered here. Kreator will be rampaging through North America this fall on a headline tour supported by two other excellent bands, Accept and Swallow the Sun. Here are the dates and places, after which we have a song:
09/05/12 Howard Theater – Washington, D.C.
09/06/12 The Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA
09/07/12 Best Buy Theater – New York, NY
09/08/12 The Palladium – Worcester, MA
09/09/12 Maverick’s – Ottawa, ON – CANADA ***KREATOR + STS ONLY**
09/10/12 Metropolis – Montreal, QC – CANADA
09/11/12 Imperial de Quebec – Quebec City, QC – CANADA
09/12/12 Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON – CANADA
09/13/12 Station 58 – Syracuse, NY ***KREATOR + STS ONLY**
09/14/12 Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
09/15/12 Mojoe’s – Joliet, IL
09/16/12 The Beaumont Club – Kansas City, MO
09/18/12 Gothic Theater – Englewood, CO
09/19/12 The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT
09/21/12 Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, B.C. – CANADA
09/22/12 Showbox at the Market – Seattle, WA
09/23/12 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR
09/24/12 Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA ***KREATOR + STS ONLY**
09/25/12 The Grand Ballroom – San Francisco, CA
09/26/12 The Avalon – Hollywood, CA
09/27/12 The Grove – Anaheim, CA
09/28/12 Marquee Theatre – Tempe, AZ
09/29/12 Tricky Falls – El Paso, TX ***KREATOR + STS ONLY**
09/30/12 Emo’s East – Austin, TX
10/01/12 Trees – Dallas, TX
10/02/12 House Of Blues – New Orleans, LA
10/03/12 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA ***KREATOR + STS ONLY**
10/04/12 Tremont Music Hall – Charlotte, NC
“Why the fuck do I seem to be in the minority for liking thrash metal in today’s scene? I think people have gotten too spoiled on pretentious, boring, modern metal like post-SYL Devin Townsend and Between the Buried and Me to realize what brutality or savagery is any more.”
1 – you’re clearly NOT in the minority for liking thrash metal. The majority of metallers are generally back-patch wearing thrash fans who just want beer and a band singing about war. The problem is that seemingly most of the thrash bands today, both old and new, have become relatively lazy and homogenised, so none of them can “break-through” since they all drag each other down by using the same riffs and vocals, etc.
2 – it’s not great writing to go “why don’t people like what I like? Everything I don’t like must be shit and other people aen’t into REAL metal like me”
… other than that the album is great and I always have time for Kreator. One of the few thrash bands who click with me.
I’m just enthusiastic brah =P
“why don’t people like what I like? Everything I don’t like must be shit and other people aen’t into REAL metal like me”
Yeah..dont say that
..Besides as the most metal guy on this Blog only Im allowed to say that
I haven’t really listened to this album, but it was playing in a record store the other day and I was rocking out. Surprised the Fuck outta me when I realized it was Kreator.
I’m still not sure if I’d enjoy it on repeated listenings, but it’s certainly one of the trash albums I have on my list to check out more. Some day.
I think we’re seeing a trend of older bands coming back with a vengeance, and showing all these deathcore/techcrap/progressive shit bands how it’s done. New Kreator kicks all kinds of ass.
Liked the sound of the song linked above and i rather think that i should get on iTunes and buy the damn thing!
Contender for top 5 of the year! Kreator slays. Best thrash band around these days. Kreator does what most thrash bands can’t and that’s write fucking SONGS, songs that you can actually remember.
Your metaphors baffle me. Must you really be so overtly hyperbolic with everything you review? I see no basis for comparison between great, good and poor.
I’m also not sure how this has any more ‘balls’ than at least half a hundred other bands active right now. Thrash has never grabbed me as very interesting, but if this is a pinnacle of the genre as you say, then I’m really not sure where you’re coming from. You say “it captures the essence of [thrash], quantifiably” – so quantify it; what IS metal, in your view?
How about you write a review, so we can see how it’s done? Name some of these “half a hundred” other bands while you’re at it.
I’m sensing a little hostility to what was some genuine criticism Inquisitor, but I’ll humour you. Here are my three most recent:
That being said, but I’ve not been particularly prolific this calendar year for a number of reasons, so please feel free to browse this archive and see what you can find of mine over the past two and a half years: http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/album-reviews/
Not sure why you’ve taken that so personally as it wasn’t even aimed at you, but you must understand that hyperbole has no place in reviewing. Postulating that one band or genre epitomises metal above all others is bizarre when so many great bands and genres exist outside of it. It’s an unknown quantity. You want examples though? Australia’s The Matador. The Ocean. Fleshgod Apocalypse. At The Drive-In. Refused. Made Out Of Babies. Glassjaw. Gojira. Pageninteynine. And those are just bands with ‘balls’. Is that even the sole factor (an unquantifiable one, at that) for what is ‘metal’?
Four, that is. Thought i’d go further back.
I’m glad Inquisitor is here though, to tell us what real metal is and show us how things should be done.
I never professed to be here to tell you what true metal is, just defending what I considered a quality review of the new Kreator album. However, based on your recommendations of bands “with balls” maybe a lesson is in order.
That being said, this is my favorite metal website…
I heartily approve of this comment. 🙂 Thank you.
No-one is beyond criticism (especially me!), and you can never stop learning. I urge you to do just that!
No problem. I read some of your reviews, and while I don’t agree with some of your musical tastes, they are technically well-written. Couldn’t hurt to add some more passion here and there, however.
As is your prerogative. I will take that on board, thanks! How would you advise I go about that, out of interest? I’m always enthusiastic about the music I love, but if it’s not translating well then I’d love your input.