Released: 2013, U Books
Kreator is one of the very first thrash bands to have a biography written about them. Sure, Metallica and Megadeth have had books but I mean ‘real’ uncompromising thrash!! I expect we will see more books covering the history of veteran extreme Metal bands in years to come.
VIOLENT EVOLUTION, which is a nice play on words for a clever title, was first published in Germany a few years ago, 2011 to be exact. It has now been translated and republished in English in December of 2013, and I’m very pleased to have got a copy. The book itself is a standard paperback, a little on the short side at 220 pages. It has a number of extras features that are neat such as a Kreator gig guide. It needs work but the work in progress is already the largest list of Kreator gigs to date. There are lots of photos on glossy plates in the middle with tons of rare shots, 80 or more, and another dozen black and white pictures scattered about the book. There is some fan art, old notes and other cool rare things to look at. What is kind of interesting is that the book was a bit of a collaborative effort between author Hillmar Bender and the Mille Milita Girls. These women, Emma Ostmann and Kathryn Fetteroll are die-hard Mille (and Kreator) fans and founded a Facebook Group called the International Milland Petrozza Appreciation Society For Women. Mille has his own all-women fan-club! I wish I did too! They handled the translation and they discussed their involvement as fans in an introduction. They also included a FB thread discussing how great Mille is, which seems odd but maybe even more people will join.
There are a few things that are missing however, which surprised me. There is no discography. There should have been one; that is a critical part that is missing. There is no list of quotes or sources. We don’t know where a lot of this information came from. There is no Table of Contents or Index. I’m surprised there is no foreword talking about the importance of Kreator, I’m sure they could have found someone, a metal celebrity to do it! The layout and design are a bit simple as well. From a technical perspective the book is a bit weak.
The translation is quite good, but there were a few sentences that didn’t really make sense or really need to be included such as ‘Uncompromising hardness, no-frills thrash, and violence as a form of musical expression’. (p. 151) There were some helpful notes for us non-German speaking readers that explain some specific slang or German-only phrases that do not have an English equivalent. It was fun and easy to read but could have used a bit more editing as there were some spelling and technical mistakes.
In standard fashion, the biography follows the band from the earliest days. VIOLENT EVOLUTION is also a bit of an oral history with many, many quotes and interviews from all the band members and various people like managers, (Bogdan Kopec) record label people (Karl Walterbach), merchandise people, drivers and many more. There are some great stories like the time that Ventor almost got redrafted into the army later in life and the bureaucratic hoops he had to jump through to avoid joining the army. Even so he was in for three weeks before being discharged because he lied and told them he was blind and deaf from playing drums! The story of the unconventional recording sessions of HORDES OF CHAOS was very interesting and so were the many tour stories and anecdotes. I did not know that Kreator has been the subject of not one but two movies released in Germany and both are discussed in a fair amount of detail. There are many crazy stories but very few stories about drugs and groupies, in fact most of the band seem to be fairly traditional family men, with a couple of guys quitting the band to raise families. There are many great tales that are sure to impress any Kreator fan.
My main complaint was that VIOLENT EVOLUTION is way too short. Huge chunks of the bands career are almost completely skipped. To pack 30 years of the history of an international touring band with 12 albums into 164 pages of actual text is almost impossible. The information of the 90’s and five albums (COMA OF SOULS to ENDORAMA) is really sparse. I understand that people want to read about the early days, the 80’s, (the Noise years) and thankfully Bender avoids a common pitfall of many biographies, namely neglecting the recent years. Bender does a very good job of covering the resurgence of Kreator and the new stable, line-up and the next decade and three albums on SPV. The book came out just before PHANTOM ANTI-CHRIST was released in 2012.
Every reader will have certain expectations and things they want to read about. For me I wish there was much more information about the bands albums, record labels, and all that technical, industry and behind the scenes stuff. Some Kreator releases were not even mentioned once, leaving me feeling that the book was incomplete. Overall, I found it very interesting and a very unique look at this iconic group. All Kreator fans should have this in their library and even thrash fans in general will really enjoy reading all the great stories. I hope that there will be a revised and updated edition in the future where they can upgrade it into a truly world-class biography of a world-class band.