Kreator & Arch Enemy @ The Forum, London
18th December 2014
Review By Tim Bolitho-Jones
Photos By Graham Hilling
Without meaning to disrespect their rivals, it’s pretty fair to say that Kreator are the biggest non-American thrash band in the world. Since 2001’s ‘Violent Revolution,’ they’ve been on a constant upward trajectory and haven’t delivered a bad album for thirteen years. They’re one of the few bands whose post-millennial output has been arguably better than the stuff they did in the eighties (yeah, we went there) and tonight’s high octane show at the Forum, co-headlining with Arch Enemy demonstrates they’re just as capable live as on record. It’s also one of the few occasions where a band winds up throwing bits of birthday cake into the crowd.
There’s a more avant-garde feel to tonight’s openers Shining however. Going some way to demonstrating that saxophones have a place in metal, at first these sharp suited Norwegians put on a hell of a show.
They’re confident, energetic and their bombastic, jazz-influenced freak outs are intriguingly different enough to win over a large section of the crowd. Unfortunately though, they start to lose it in the second half and not even the arrival of iconic Megadeth axe-man Marty Friedman is enough to bring them back.
Too many of the songs start to sound like meandering instrumentals, there’s at least half a dozen false-finishes and it’s hard to shake the impression they’ve run out of tracks and have decided to ‘just jam.’
In contrast, Arch Enemy are more brutally straight forward and they absolutely tear the roof off. Squeezing an impressive eleven songs into their hour onstage, Michael Amott’s death metal heroes have the crowd in the palms of their hands from start to finish.
A major part of this is down to singer Alyssa White-Gluz, who since taking over from Angela Gossow (in perhaps the most amicable singer-switch in music history) has given this veteran act a hefty shot in the arm.
She looks like someone who would fuck Mad Max to death, has a fearsome death growl that’d make Jeff Walker envious and is one of those singers that just looks overjoyed to have a mic in their hand.
It also becomes apparent how many great tracks they have in their arsenal. ‘War Eternal,’ ‘Ravenous,’ ‘Dead Eyes See No Future’ and ‘My Apocalypse’ all sound fantastic tonight and the closing ‘Nemesis’ is a rousing, adrenaline charged finale.
It’s a great set and let down only slightly by their insistence on bowing at the end. Bowing is fine for the cast of Broadway musicals guys, but for metal bands it’s just hackneyed and smug, cut that shit out.
As good as they were however, there’s no question that tonight belongs to Kreator. Opening with one of your most popular songs is always a gamble, but ‘Violent Revolution’ is a huge way to start, hundreds of denim clad headbangers bellowing the chorus as the Forum descends into chaos.
From there, the night is a healthy mix of old classics and new favourites, with ‘Extreme Aggression’ and ‘Endless Pain’ sitting comfortably alongside ‘Phantom Antichrist’ and each greeted as enthusiastically as the next.
At the heart of it all is Mille Petrozza, orchestrating the mayhem like a mix between James Hetfield and a Banshee. At times he seems like an inhuman monster sent by the devil to tempt us all into hellfire, but his formidable wail and charisma are what give Kreator the edge over their contemporaries.
He’s not averse to a bit of cake either, the support bands and crew all coming out in the encore to celebrate his birthday, a moment that is genuinely heart-warming.
That aside there’s a fitting tribute to metal’s fallen heroes with ‘Voices Of The Dead,’ some huge circle pits during ‘Hordes Of Chaos’ and the ever reliable ‘Flag Of Hate’ bringing it all to a close.
It’s a masterclass in Teutonic thrash and despite their success, Kreator still sound young, venomous and hungry. Not bad for a band that’s been around since before the Berlin Wall came down.