Review Summary: Not very Kreative but still pretty Khaotic.
The nineties was a weird time for heavy metal. While the eighties saw this genre grow enormously in popularity, thanks to the supreme influence of thrash, and was carried over to the new decade with classic albums like “Vulgar Display of Power”, “Rust In Peace” and “Painkiller” released at the beginning of the decade. However, the nineties oversaw a drastic metal modification. Suddenly, the uncompromising aesthetic of metal bowed before the arrival of sullen grunge and mainstream rock and many bands saw a stylistic change in their music that was influenced by the alternative nature of the nineties; Robb Flynn donned a tracksuit, Metallica cut their hair and Korn became kings.
Another band who went through this experimental phase was Kreator. Despite the pure aggression, fierce precision and ruthless speed that the Germans had expertly established, Kreator still went through the nineties phase and released a foray of industrial-tinged albums. Nevertheless, as soon as the decade was over, they returned to their thrash roots and have released a consistent sequence of riveting thrash albums since.
Now entering 2017, Kreator’s fourteenth album maintains the band’s consistently ferocious spirit, although a small handful of new elements are unearthed in “Gods of Violence” that establishes some form of differentiation to Kreator’s recent material. An Egyptian tone crops up at various stages in the album. First during the orchestral intro, ‘Apocalypticon’, then again, with more folksy fashion, after the pummelling blast beats and escalating riffs in ‘World War Now’. The title track also commences with acoustics and this kind of snake-charming melody before slithering back into their blazing thrash metal.
Despite this, there’s some sort of grinding grittiness missing from “Gods of Violence” that projects Kreator’s extreme aggression. The absence of this angry charisma is largely down to the polished production. Jens Bogren, who produced Sepultura’s latest album: “Machine Messiah”, has done a great job of complementing the precision of Mille Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirniö’s interplaying guitars with the clarity of how they sound as the blunt and slower ‘Satan is Real’ sounds massive and commanding. However, songs like ‘Death Becomes My Light’ and ‘Side By Side’ are polished perhaps a bit too squeaky clean for a band notorious for their musical belligerence, thus losing some of Kreator’s violent edge.
Nevertheless, this is still an invigorating thrash album. ‘Totalitarian Terror’ is relentlessly fast and packs in some corkscrewing melodies that hearken back to the NWOBHM era, which arises once more during the galloping ‘Hail to the Hordes’. Mille’s choruses are very alike to the anthemic style of 2012’s “Phantom Antichrist”, only this time the lyrics are served with an additional slice of cheese. His rapid singing style provokes the same urgency it did over thirty years ago and the venom seems to drip from every word he utters in ‘Army of Storms’.
2016 was a fantastic year for thrash metal. Vektor released one of the most revitalizing releases of the year, and Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth and Death Angel all outdid themselves; even Metallica delivered the goods-albeit late and from the reduced section. Kreator may not have crossed any new boundaries with “Gods of Violence”, but what they have achieved is assuring everyone that they’re still one of the most riveting thrash bands around today.