Released: 2009, SPV Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Thrash metal has reached its highest peak since the mid-eighties and not surprisingly, so has Kreator. The Germans faltered through the nineties with wild experimentation that didn’t do the band or its fans any favors. Beginning with 2001’s VIOLENT REVOLUTION, though, the Germans made a resounding recovery and have continued through this decade with a trio of stellar studio releases, the latest being HORDES OF CHAOS. For the new record, the band has gone back to its roots by recording the basic tracks live in the studio (the first time having done this since 1986’s PLEASURE TO KILL) and the result is much less of a sterile and polished-sounding recording. That isn’t to say the band sounds as raw and abrasively lo-fi as they did while cranking out “Betrayer” and “Tormentor” but there is definitely less of a feeling that the tracks have been run through endless hours of studio finessing on HORDES OF CHAOS. Overall, HORDES OF CHAOS sounds unlike a band that has seen its career on the ropes and more like they are settling into the role of invigorated elder statesmen of European thrash that they are.
What might surprise some is just how convincingly Kreator is still able to sell its own intense brand of thrash after almost a quarter-century. Along with Sodom and Destruction, Kreator make up the “Big Three” of German thrash and all three bands have risen phoenix-like from the ashes of the nineties to create what is arguably their finest material. That trend continues on HORDES OF CHAOS as melodic leads mix handily with face-ripping thrash anthems. The title track lumbers along at a mid-tempo stomp but the middle break features a blazing solo from guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö that will singe your eyebrows. The real star of the track is drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil, though, with beats so hard-hitting and in your face that it will feel like his kick pedal is slamming through your skull. Other songs embrace the thrash blueprint perfectly. “Warcurse” and “Demon Prince” are speedy thrashers with buzzing riffs and Mille Petrozza’s infernal snarl calling the troops to arms. Likewise, “Absolute Misanthropy” is a scorcher of a track with lyrics to match (“This one goes out to the ones I hate…I can’t wait for you to die”). At the other end of the spectrum, “Amok Run” shifts tempos effortlessly, going from a quiet lead-in with Petrozza’s dark croon to a double-bass salvo from Ventor and mosh-ready incite from Petrozza. “To The Afterborn” may be the most melodic track Kreator has ever penned with a headbanging groove, standout chorus and killer riff throughout.
Fans of ENEMY OF GOD and VIOLENT REVOLUTION will eat up HORDES OF CHAOS because there isn’t a tremendous departure style-wise from either of those records. Kreator is a fairly dependable band (the nineties notwithstanding) and with a stable lineup in place now for nearly a decade, the German thrash machine continues to roll onward. With so many baby bands currently suckling at the thrash teat, finding Kreator at the head of the pack rather than cast to the shadows is a good feeling. With material as strong as HORDES OF CHAOS still being pumped out, that isn’t likely to change, either.
KILLER KUTS: “Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue For The Elite),” “Warcurse,” “Amok Run,” “Absolute Misanthropy,” “Demon Prince”