Of all the thrash bands to have emerged from outside America, Kreator must stand as one of the most well-known and consistently brutal. Certainly since the release of genre classic ‘pleasure to kill’, the band have become a byword for Teutonic extremity among metal fans and, if the 1990s saw the band experimenting beyond the remit of their core sound, their branching out was certainly no more extreme than their peers in America were engaging in. Nonetheless, having been perceived to have lost their way, it is hard to argue that the band did not force their way back into the consciousness of the faithful via 2001’s ‘Violent revolution’, an album that was widely held to mark a renewed vitality in the band which has lasted right up to the present day. ‘Gods of violence’ is the band’s fourteenth album and it has been hotly anticipated amongst a metal community anxious for a follow-up to 2012’s impressive ‘phantom Antichrist’ album.
From the off ‘Gods of violence’ is classic Kreator. A short, darkly cinematic intro appears in the form of ‘Apocalypticon’, which sounds like Hans Zimmer playing around with Therion and Holst, before the band kick into action with the searing ‘World war now’ (a title that is feeling alarmingly prescient right now). A full-tilt thrash monster, ‘world war now’ is unleashed like the dogs of war, whilst Mille Petrozza dispatches his lyrics like machine gun bullets, spitting them out from between gritted teeth over a series of shock-wave guitar riffs that are given greater force by Ventor’s unforgiving drums. It’s a vigorous opening statement, but the band have maintained the taut grasp on melody that crept into ‘Phantom Antichrist’ and the latter half of the song is dominated by sweeping, harmonized lead guitar work that adds greater depth to the band’s assault. ‘Satan is real’ is a fun, mid-paced track with plenty of brutal riffs and a healthy dose of melody bought together around a subject matter that cuts to the core of metal at its fantastic best. It’s a mosh-pit friendly anthem destined to be a future singalong at festivals whilst the guitar work that scars the bridge is second to none. ‘Totalitarian terror’ is rather more serious in subject matter and tone and the harrowing scream that opens the track has to be heard to be believed. Full-tilt, this is thrash at its violent, skin-shredding best and an easy highlight of the album. In stark contrast, the intro for the title track is a moment of stunning beauty with hints of ‘fade to black’ washed through with eerie, Eastern elements before it emerges as a stadium destroying thrash masterpiece the like of which should propel the band to the top of festival bills the world over. Melodic yet powerful, ‘Gods of violence’ is everything you want from an epic thrash band and it is easy to see why Kreator have so dedicated an army of followers. The first half of the album concludes with the perfectly named ‘Army of storms’, a veritable tsunami of feral riffing and militant rage.
The second half of the album opens with the menacing ‘Hail to the hordes’, a call to arms for all the underdogs and an anthem for metal fans everywhere. Powered by the same Unitarian impulse that underscored Arch Enemy’s ‘Nemesis’, ‘hail to the hordes’ is another album highlight and it’s hard to imagine the band not using this on stage to encourage fans to flock to their banner. Opening as a music box, ‘lion with eagle wings’ moves rapidly through the sinister to emerge a seething maelstrom of unhinged riffing that perfectly provides the sonic backdrop for Mille’s tails of blood, honour and sacrifice. Relentlessly tight, ‘fallen brother’ emerges as a metal assault as precise as anything unleashed by Rammstein over the years, the guitars kept razor sharp and nailed to a tough martial beat that is impossible to ignore. Less successful is the ravenous ‘side by side’. Whilst it has a satisfyingly crunchy chorus, the grueling verse feels somewhat anachronistic compared to the more mid-paced material found elsewhere and its impact dissipates quickly. The album picks up for its epic, seven-minute conclusion, ‘death becomes my light’. Opening with some beautifully played clean guitar work it rapidly builds into a bruising climax cramming in multiple riffs, blistering solos and Mille’s scarred vocals before drifting into a dreamy outro that matches the cinematic trappings of the album’s opening track.
After thirty-five years of making ears bleed, Kreator remain a potent force in metal and ‘Gods of violence’ is a more than worthy follow-up to 2012’s excellent ‘Phantom Antichrist’. Whilst the band have deviated little from the template laid down on 2001’s return-to-form LP ‘Violent Revolution’, there remains a potency to their work that makes this most tried-and-tested of formulas feel fresh regardless. It’s been five long years, but the wait has been worth it and there are certainly enough mosh-pit wrecking anthems delivered across the album to satisfy all but the most demanding of fans. Highlights abound, but for sheer unmitigated savagery, fans will be hard-pressed to beat the likes of ‘Satan is Real’ and the aggravated fury of ‘Totalitarian terror’. Most importantly, ‘Gods of violence’ is a whole lot of fun and comes highly recommended. 9
Special Edition Notes
Nuclear Blast have gone to town with the various editions of ‘Gods of violence’, Kreator’s fourteenth album since their inception way back in 1982. Released as a CD, LP, CD & DVD combo. CD & Blu Ray combo and limited deluxe collector’s edition with all manner of extras, the array of choice is bewildering. However, for those who aren’t super-fans of the band, the editions that represent the best value are the CD & DVD / Blu ray combo packs which include the album in a handsome digi book and a video disc of the band’s epic performance at Wacken in 2014. Pro-shot, it follows in the footsteps of Slayer’s ‘Repentless’ which offered up a similar bonus (also out via Nuclear Blast) and the quality of the two releases in terms of audio (PCM Stereo; no surround mix) and video (full HD 1080p) is comparable. At fourteen tracks and seventy minutes in length, it’s a bonus that is well worth the extra expenditure and whilst there’s no surround mix, it is arguable that Kreator need no such sonic gimmicks to sound truly massive.
Although we weren’t able to get our hands on the following, there are also other configurations out there. For the true, long-time fan, the fan box is remarkably good value. Featuring the album on double red vinyl, the special blu-ray combo pack (in the original media book packaging), a double CD of the Wacken gig and a print, all housed in a hard case box, it offers amazing value for the list price of around fifty Euros. There are also various coloured vinyls available and the usual array of download / streaming options. In short, you can purchase the new Kreator album in just about any format imaginable and, whether you’re a super-fan or new to the fold, you’ll find something here for you.