Thrash metal titans, Kreator, have released their latest album entitled Gods of Violence. It was released on the 27th of January via Nuclear Blast and is their 14th studio album. It follows on from 2012’s Phantom Antichrist so is a good 5 years in the making. Kreator are a German band, formed in 1982, that have had great success though a lot of that has come in later years. Their consistency, especially in those later years, has probably been helped by them having a pretty consistent line up. The current 4 members have been in the band for a combined 103 years which is phenomenal really. In an age where band members seem to come and go like a revolving door, Kreator’s last change up was in 2001. That was 16 years ago, when Sami Yli-Sirnio replaced Tommy Vetterli on lead guitar duties.
Gods of Violence is an album I have been looking forward to hearing. I was very impressed with the first two singles released. The first track released as a single was the title track Gods of Violence. I loved it and you can read that review here. Afterwards they released Satan is Real which I also liked. I didn’t think it was quite as strong as Gods of Violence but you can also read that review here.
Either way, that marked two top class singles and I was suitably hyped to hear the album.
Gods of Violence, the album, is 11 tracks long and comes in at just under 52 minutes long in total. There is also a bonus edition available which has either a CD or DVD of their complete live performance at Wacken Festival in 2014.
The album gets underway with a short instrumental called Apocalypticon. It is a great little tune and builds the excitement up even further. Using booming drums and a neat little riff with a choir in the background, it sounds big. Sort of like a battle march signalling that we are off to war. There are actually quite a lot of these big, epic moments on the album. They give it, at times, a power metal feel. At other times, maybe even a little folk metal like. Don’t get me wrong, this is a thrash album, but Kreator are more than happy to add depth by borrowing from other connected genres. This all works to the betterment of Gods of Violence with everything married blissfully together. Everything fits.
We get a harp intro on title track Gods of Violence before it explodes into a brilliant thrash song. It does have a big power metal like chant section though. Plenty of room for fists punching the air as we all shout “WE SHALL KILL”. Hail to the Hordes gives us a background layer of bagpipes from Boris Pfeiffer (In Extremo). They aren’t always easy to pick out over the blazing guitars though. Fallen Brother brings a guest vocalist, Dagobert Jäger, who adds spoken word verses in his native German. There is a 6 piece choir adding backing throughout the album. There are also untold orchestral arrangements, like in the intro to Lion with Eagle Wings.
In short, Kreator are still Kreative (sorry) enough after 35 years to consider adding all of the above. Not just for the sake of it either – it all works very well. It adds moments to the songs and the album that turn it from a straight up 11 predictable thrash songs into something bigger, something better.
Do not fear though thrash fans. Gods of Violence is first and foremost a bloody good thrash metal album. It does sound more polished than maybe you would expect from Kreator and this makes it fell, well, a little less edgy and aggressive at times. It has those glimpses of evolution mentioned above but there are plenty of straight up, balls to the wall thrash songs. Some of the drum sections from Ventor are blisteringly fast such as the intro and chorus of World War Now and the whole of Side by Side which starts off with a huge scream before turning into a frenzy of shredding and drumming other than a small slow down near the end.
One thing you expect and get from a good thrash album are riffs and solos and it is there the album excels for me. Mille Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirnio are on fine form with song after song packing a huge guitar solo. There are different tones, duelling guitars, fast shredding solos – this is the sort of album that will have air guitarists around the world jumping for joy. I love the slower part of the solo in World War Now. It is a real contrast to the rest of the song with it’s fast shredding and shouted chorus. My favourite solo is possibly on Hail to the Hordes with huge duel guitars. I also love the heavier, faster solo on Totalitarian Terror. The bass of Christian Geisler is prominent throughout, perfectly gluing everything together.
There are riffs and intros to die for as well from the soft, acoustic start to Death Becomes My Light to the crunching riff that starts Satan Is Real. Army of Storms starts with a rolling drum over a drawn out guitar squeal and descends into a wonderful twirling guitar line before turning into a heavy, death metal like track. There is a lot to love not just on Gods of Violence but within each track as well.
Mille does a great job on vocals as well, mostly hitting his higher toned, thrashy singing but mixes it up well with a few well placed screams. A small amount of softer singing and a deeper, darker tone are in the mix too. Lyrically, it is pretty good. Clichéd but good and is the sort of stuff you used to scribble over your school books. Lines like “We’re not afraid to live – We’re not afraid to die” and “This is my time – this is my fight” just work in this environment. Their are some nice touches lyrically too. Specifically the song Fallen Brother where the video, which you can watch here, is in memory of Bon Scott, Lemmy, Cliff Burton and other fallen brothers.
Gods of Violence is a really great metal album with loads of highlights and no room for boredom and it finishes off brilliantly. Death Becomes My Light is around 7 and a half minutes long and is nothing short of an epic. It has an acoustic intro, soft singing that builds and breaks into excellent soloing and then into a breakneck drum and riff section. As an album, overall it is well produced as well. It is quite polished and, while I like that, it may not be to everyone’s taste. It is cleverly laid out with a great intro track and a big ending and not much I would call filler in between.
A few clichés aside and this album isn’t very far away from perfection. It really does show that Kreator are capable of creating top notch music 35 years into their career. That deserves loads of respect. As well as that, with albums of this quality coming out, it proves that thrash is alive and very well still.
A great album, packed full of inventive moments and immense musicianship. If you don’t like extravagant guitar playing, well, why are you reading this? If you do like big riffs and solos, this album will make you smile. The lyrics are usually solid and occasionally a little cheesy. That’s a minor issue in an otherwise great listening experience though. Check it out!
Kreator are out on tour soon in support of the new album. You can check here for more details on where and when and to get tickets.
Kreator - Gods of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
The Final Score - 9/10
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