Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Review: Kreator - Phantom Antichrist

 A far more effective example of a thrash band going through an odd experimental phase before returning to their roots in glorious form than Metallica is that of Kreator. The 1980s saw the band form become one of the "Big three" of Teutonic thrash metal along with Sodom and Destruction, who played thrash metal with influences taken from the rising Venom to darken up their sound. Indeed, as the 1990's took thrash metal out of the mainstream spheres of rock music, the band entered their industrial phase, which went down less well with their legions of fans. But as the century turned the spirit of thrash came back into their outset and  the band have crafted some of their finest and heaviest albums to date. And with their thirteenth release Phantom Antichrist, they may have... kreated the album that really emphasizes the thrash is back.

 From the pulsing opening of the album's title track we can see the trash is back. Following the intense buildup of the album intro Mars Mantra, a melancholic instrumental that lures listeners into a state of somberness well the well produced musical textures and graceful strumming of Sami Yli-Sirniö, the explosion of intense thrash riff-fests from Yli-Sirniö and frontman Mille Petrozza which throws machine gun breakdowns into the mix of jagged thrash licks for extra brutality shows Phantom Antichrist to be a bolder and more impacting release than attempted previously.
 The word choice of "brutality is interesting in many respects. Most thrash metal bands aren't noted for their brutality, but it definitely exists with Kreator. Wether it's found in the nihilistic lyricism of Death to the World, From Flood Into Fire and The Few, The Proud, The Broken or if it's in the album' selections of monstrous breakdowns and riffs played with overwhelming levels of heaviness, there is a punishing element towards listeners. However, the combination of the doom-laden messages of the album with the demolishing musical delivery also manages to be strangely immersible and actually makes the album the kind of album that manages to be filled with doom and rapid-paced brutality which actually triggers an emotional response from listeners that isn't just mindless headbanging. Though obviously the likes of United in Hate and Your Heaven, My Hell will serve as a cause for headbanging. But this approach to metal is rare and the one band that have truly managed to be astonishingly brutal and mentally captivating at the same time in my books has been Decapitated. And with such a contrast between Kreator and the Polish death metal trio, it makes Phantom Antichrist a more surprising and dynamic experience.
 You are indeed in for a gripping listen when listening to Phantom Antichrist. Kreator manage to sound as triumphant as they do rooted in utter bleakness throughout the album and with the tones of the album only being the top layering of a mind-blowing metallic performance, this is definitely one of the stronger albums released in Kreator's history. They join Overkill this year in the list of "Classic thrash bands that should probably be well past their prime but are still going strong." If Testament can do something like this on their Dark Roots of Earth album in July, maybe we can look back and say. "This was a good fuckin' year for metal!"

 Kreator's Phantom Antichrist is out now via Nuclear Blast. 

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