Released: 2012, Nuclear blast
After spending most of the millennium’s first decade on SPV, Kreator signed with Nuclear Blast in 2010, coinciding with their 25th anniversary. PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is the band’s 13th studio album, first on Nuclear Blast, and marks another chapter in the band’s evolution. If one were to judge Kreator by their album titles and cover art, evolution would be the last thing you would expect from the band, PHANTOM ANTICHRIST providing the answer to the question of who 2005’s ENEMY OF GOD actually is. Fans of the band are well aware though that Kreator has been relentless experimenters, rarely content to merely bludgeon away. They have taken chances, and in some cases suffered backlash while still managing to maintain the respect of the metal world. In vast numbers of metal polls, Kreator is in the top 10 of all-time thrash bands
Thus the new album continues to retain Kreator’s core sound and a stable line-up while forging ahead with new sounds and ideas, progressive in places, patently melodic in others. Let’s face it, PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is the album that Kreator has been moving towards since their early days, the band always finding places to insert melodic and catchy riffs like in old tracks such as “Riot of Violence” and 90s tunes as much of the COMA OF SOULS album reveals. Despite this, it never felt like the band had found their true sound or even created their masterpiece album yet, although many would argue PLEASURE TO KILL was their crowning achievement. You hear every band and manager say that their newest album is their finest, and I always dismiss that. I have never heard anybody from the Kreator camp say that about this album though, but they should have. PHANTOM ANTICHRIST actually IS the finest album Kreator has ever composed, a masterpiece that should be in every serious discussion about album of the year, and the pinnacle of what has been a fine career. In one album, Kreator has blown thrash revival bands like Gama Bomb, Mantic Ritual and Violator out of the water.
The production is a pleasure to behold, a modern and fantastic balance that captures a rhythm section that is on fire, moving fast and heavy. But man, Mille and Sami Yli-Sirniö put on a guitar clinic with riffs and solos that are pure metal, a product of leaders instead of followers. Standout track would be “From Flood Into Fire”, which contains the most melodic and resolving solo in the Kreator canon in the last third of the track, while Mille finally nails that clean voice he went for on ENDORAMA and he was often out of tune. Not so here. There are no weak moments. PHANTOM ANTICHRIST contains 10 tracks of metal perfection on an album that lays down the gauntlet for all the young pup thrash bands that thought they had grabbed the torch. Heck, Kreator have even slapped the faces of the old guard of thrash with a glove, whose also fine recent releases sound further from the finish line than they did upon first listens. In sum, there is something here for everyone, fast, heavy and aggressive thrash coupled with mid-paced and melodic sections that would make Gothenburg proud had Kreator not already been doing this kind of thing well before them. With still half a year to go, this is my album of the year at this point. Do not wait, do not think, just grab this.