If the time was ever ripe for a new Kreator album, I can’t think of a better one than now. Kreator, one of the all time greats of thrash metal, long ago cemented their lyrical and thematic legacy with scathing critiques of totalitarianism and religious fanaticism. They have also backed up their lyrical stances with actions. For example, Kreator were the first West German heavy metal band to perform in East Berlin in 1990 just after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Gods Of Violence is Kreator’s fourteenth full-length studio album, and continues the band’s run of strong albums since the release of Violent Revolution in 2001. Lyrically, Gods Of Violence takes up Kreator’s mantle with scathing songs aimed squarely at religious fanaticism and its intersection with political violence and the rise of totalitarianism. The two singles released prior to the January 20th release of Gods Of Violence, the title track and “Satan Is Real,” for example, reflect Kreator’s approach with strong lyrics.
Musically, Kreator are a veteran band and, at this point in their careers, are going to deliver, at the very least, a strong album, and that’s certainly the case with Gods Of Violence. A short intro, “Apocalypticon,” sets the stage with a militaristic percussion backing up a guitar solo, and orchestral arrangements enhance the atmosphere with members of Fleshgod Apocalypse providing songwriting input.
The intro segues into “World War Now,” a strong, up tempo song with fast riffs and an infectious, shouted chorus. “Satan Is Real,” with its metaphorical title, is up next and leads directly into the one two punch of “Totalitarian Terror” and the title track. Throughout, band founder Mille Petrozza’s clearly enunciated vocals provide the necessary political backdrop as the riffs fly fast and furious. A few moments of melody and downshifts in tempo occur with fluid guitar solos and infectious choruses.
Kreator’s political messages are obvious, but a less serious tone is adopted here and there with songs such as “Hail To The Hordes,” an obvious homage to the band’s fan base, a fan base that has enabled Kreator to keep going strong for over 30 years. The anthem quality of the song will, no doubt, make it a fan favorite in a live setting as Kreator get ready for a trek across North America as the headliner of the 2017 Decibel Magazine Tour.
How does Gods Of Violence stack up against the band’s recent output, especially after coming off such a strong album in Phantom Antichrist, which was released almost five years ago? Quite well, but Gods Of Violence contains more melody, a few minor orchestral arrangements, and plenty of slower moments, more so than its immediate predecessors. The production is also more organic with a richer guitar sound and a perfect mix.
The overall effect is less forceful than Phantom Antichrist, for example, but the strong songwriting and the perfect timing of the album’s release more than makes up for it. In short, Kreator continue their run of strong releases and demonstrate that they still have plenty of songwriting chops left after more than 30 years of being on top of the thrash metal heap.
(released January 27, 2017 on Nuclear Blast Records)