Ladies and gentlemen,
German thrash metal legend Kreator has released three new outputs in the past few weeks: an EP, a short live album and a new full length release. I have listened to all these outputs, analyzed them and written reviews for each of these records. Enjoy!
"Violence Unleashed" is a nice EP and collector's item that promotes Kreator's upcoming "Gods of Violence" release. This release is available with the highly recommendable 01-2017 edition of the German Legacy magazine. The first song is the title track from the upcoming album. The next three songs are rare tracks recorded during or shortly after the sessions for the great melodic thrash metal milestone "Phantom Antichrist". The last two songs on this output were recorded at Wacken Open Air in 2014 and will be included on the bonus CD/DVD/BluRay of the upcoming record.
The new track starts surprisingly smoothly with harmonious acoustic guitar melodies and dreamy Asian folk elements that develop an appeasing yet mysterious candlelight atmosphere. After about one minute, the track becomes an epic heavy metal anthem for about thirty seconds before the band speeds things up and delivers a great melodic thrash metal anthem in the key of the last studio album. The song perfectly captures Kreator's more melodic thrash metal of the past few years and is one of the very best tracks of this kind. It combines typical elements of the genre veterans with a few fresh ideas and a powerful production.
The most interesting parts about this release are obviously the rare tracks. My personal highlight is the ferocious yet melodic anthem "Iron Destiny" that perfectly captures the anticonformist spirit of the band and of the metal scene as a whole. This unknown and underrated song is one of the very best in Kretaor's extensive career in my opinion.
The slightly edited live tracks have been recorded authentically and sound so straight that you feel as if you were standing in front of a stage during one of the band's energetic live shows. The two cuts chosen for this release seem to indicate what could be Kreator's very best live release in my opinion. Especially the unchained mixture of anger, melody and speed in the frantic band anthem "Violent Revolution" sounds better than ever and represents what Kreator stands for.
To keep it short, this EP is worth its reasonable price; especially since it comes along with another compilation and an entire great magazine. Faithful fans will get an excellent new track. Occasional fans will get an excellent idea of what the band sounds like nowadays. New fans will discover everything that represents one of the most rebellious thrash metal bands around the world. Go grab this beautiful gem, crank up the volume and be prepared for total destruction.
Final rating: 80%
''Live Antichrist'' is a free live album by German thrash metal quartet Kreator. It consists of ten unreleased live tracks recorded during different shows in the past few years. The album was released with an issue of the German Metal Hammer magazine.
The different tracks have a solid production that sounds raw and unpolished but also manages to showcase the band's great musicianship. Especially Sami Yli-Sirniö's guitar leads and solos really stand out in concert. Rhythm guitars and drums also sound powerful enough to convince. On the other side, the vocals are sometimes out of breath and rhythm and sound a little bit too dominant in the mix. The bass guitar could have been a little bit more present on the other hand but I have heard worse.
The track list is quite interesting as it features new tracks from the more melodic Phantom Antichrist as well as the brutal Enemy of God records, forgotten pearls from the band's experimental years with albums such as Renewal and Outcast and one classic track from the early release Pleasure to Kill. To my surprise, the harsher tracks are less convincing as they all sound quite similar and are mostly fast-paced and one-dimensional. The vocals often can't follow the fast instrumentation which makes these songs sound even more chaotic than usually. The more melodic tunes from the experimental years have some more punch in concert and offer very interesting listening experiences that will please both to the band's more traditional fans that might rediscover these tracks and those who liked the band's shift in style during the nineties. The tracks from the last studio record blend in very well and offer a welcome mixture between melodic heavy metal influences and rhythmic thrash metal parts.
Despite having a great track list that gives potential new fans a very good idea of Kreator's discography, the order of the different tunes isn't very well chosen in my opinion. The record kicks off without any introduction in form of the chaotic ''Enemy of God'' which might be the worst track on here. In the middle of the album, we suddenly get to hear the instrumental ''Mars Mantra'' followed by the vivid ''Phantom Antichrist''. These two songs should have kicked this release off instead of ''Enemy of God''. Closing the record with ''Civilisation Collapse'' is also quite weird as a vivid and fast-paced thrash metal track like ''Pleasure to Kill'' or ''Suicide Terrorist'' would have been more suitable to end this release with a violent bang.
Due to the fact that these tracks are taken from different live shows, the ten tracks don't really build up a coherent and fluid atmosphere. In fact, communications with the live crowds in some songs are done in German while others are suddenly in English which makes the listening experience oddly confusing. Some tracks also have fade-outs instead of offering organic transitions to the next songs.
While Kreator has released much better live albums, ''Live Antichrist'' is good for what it is as free gift of a metal magazine. It's not essential to own this record for occasional listeners or faithful fans who already own live albums such as ''Dying Alive'', ''Terror Prevails'' or the limited edition of ''Gods of Violence'' that includes the band's entire 2014 Wacken performance. This record is only interesting for new fans who want to discover Kreator's different soundscapes in live form for free as well as for avid collectors who would buy anything this band releases.
Final rating: 70%
After the outstanding Phantom Antichtist that mixed furious thrash metal and melodic heavy metal in a balanced way, Gods of Violence offers a very similar style without having the consistent high-quality songwriting of the predecessor. The first half of the record mostly offers formulaic thrash metal that one has heard over and over again from this band while the second part is much more epic and melodic but is often lacking memorable passages.
The band seems to offer a few experiments here and there in form of short piano and orchestral passages and bagpipe sounds or with extended instrumental introductions and unusual bridges with poem recitations or even with some unexpected German lyrics. However, these ideas often feel like unnecessary gimmicks since they rarely add anything to the different songs and are much too short to elaborate towards something more consistent or interesting. This even concerns the better tunes on the album. Let's take ''Hail to the Hordes'' as an appropriate example. This is an enjoyable homage to the fans and has an anthemic atmosphere that will surely work much better in concert than on this studio release. The bagpipe sounds played by In Extremo's Yellow Pfeifer are performed as perfectly as we are used of him in the bridge. However, they don't add anything to the song and feel completely out of place.
The repetitive ''us against the world'' topics also get quite redundant and show that this band is running out of ideas lyrically. The vocals sound as they have sounded over the past three decades and offer an angry mixture of poignant screams and nervous up-tempo parts where they often sound out of rhythm. The pronunciation of the lyrics also got worse over the past few years. The thrash riffs feel rehashed an uninspired. They recall records such as Enemy of God and Hordes of Chaos without adding anything new to this style. The rhythm section remains formulaic throughout the entire release and is neither brutal enough to go back to the band's roots nor diversified enough to add anything new to the band sound.
The only truly positive point of this album is Sami Yli-Sirniö's guitar play. He pulls off some emotional melodic leads as in the mellower parts of ''Gods of Violence'' which starts promisingly to fall flat or in the mysterious overture of ''Lion with Eagle Wings''. He also pulls off a few excellent solos as in the otherwise average ''Satan Is Real'' or in the Japanese bonus track ''Earth Under the Sword'' which clearly isn't as great as the epic ''Iron Destiny'' five years earlier.
To keep it short, you might be impressed by this record if you have never heard of the band before. If you are familiar with Kreator's more recent material, you will realize that Gods of Violence is basically a mixture of the last three albums and offers more of the same without adding anything new to the mixture. Thanks to a few solid individual tracks like the fan anthem ''Hail to the Hordes'', the melodic heavy metal track ''Lion with Eagle Wings'' and the melancholic ''Fallen Brother'' which is probably the most creative tune on here, this album is still overall enjoyable. The additional live concert that comes along with the limited edition of this release also rates this release up. However, Gods of Violence is a minor disappointment after the strong Phantom Antichrist. Personally, I won't purchase this record because I know Kreator can do much better than that.
Final rating: 67%« An emotional rollercoaster ride for open-minded cineastesFamiliar soundscapes and exciting experiments - A review of Xandria's ''Theater of Dimensions'' »
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