Hordes Of Chaos

Rock music of all kinds is cyclical. Every genre has its time in the sun and a period in relative obscurity. Such is the case with thrash. Evolving in the early 80s and offering a much harder, aggressive edge to the metal of the era it spawned a raft of bands operating in various sub-genres, including Metallica, the biggest metal band of our era. But, it would be closer to the mark to call Metallica, post their eponymous Black Album as an alternative rock band, rather than a thrash outfit.

Kreator have never been on the same commercial page as that, in fact not even in the same book, but they are nonetheless important exponents of the movement. The difference is, though, they simply did not have the commercial muscle to weather the storm and get away with records that, frankly, were a load of cock. They weren’t alone either as many of their 80’s thrash cohorts endured similar meltdowns while attempting re-invention, only to resurface in more original form (Testament as an example) and appeal to today’s metal audience . In truth, Kreator’s European base (Essen, Germany) probably didn’t help either and they could have been excused if they had disappeared off the metal radar altogether.

Now in their forties, they still have a penchant for old skool thrash, and play it with considerable prowess .The key to any band’s longevity is to demonstrate some kind of forward progress. Who knows what impact the release of a record like Terrible Certainty (1987, for many their masterpiece), would have on today’s market – its muddy production and cluttered arrangement just may not ‘resonate’ nowadays, rendering it obsolete. What they have done then is to move forward, but do it within an environment that they know, and that is what makes this new material all the more impressive.

2001’s Violent Revolution was something of a return to their thrash roots, albeit with more melody and quality playing than their crude but effective early work. Enemy of God (2005), was more of the same but still didn’t really convince you that their Kreative juices were fully flowing. From the opening few bars of the title track of Hordes Of Chaos, however, we are quickly aware that there is something very different going on, ominous, powerful and a great return to form.

Hordes Of Chaos is a viable contender for thrash record of the year. Mille Petrozza’s growling rantings… check. Machine-like riffing and ludicrous song titles…check. (‘Absolute Misanthropy’ being the nadir) The previous two albums, while fine in their own right, lacked a certain immediacy which is very evident here, mainly as a lot of it was recorded live and boy, don’t you know it. The guitars have a really primeval buzz and you can almost taste the saliva exiting Petrozza’s mouth, so aggressive is his delivery. The title track sets the tone while ‘Escalation’ and ‘Amok Run’ revisite Kreator of their brutal, Teutonic best . Every cut stands up in its own right and all get better with repeated listens.

With ‘proper’ thrash metal very much in revival mode, and some of the genre’s heavyweights creating career best work ( just wait ‘til you hear Slayer’s new material) and newer acts like Huddersfield’s own Evile sounding much like anything from the 80’s hey- day, Kreator have planted their German flag firmly in the ground with an album of huge energy, and killer sound which belies their veteran status. Real commercial success has never been in their vocabulary however,but in terms of delivering an album worthy of their pioneer status, they have hit the bulls-eye.

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