Review by Rick Ossian
The thrash-metal pride of Essen have returned with their 14th studio album, and it is a real corker! Though I must confess my lack of familiarity with the band’s previous material, this is indeed another of those cases where I am compelled to dig deep into the past. Kreator are Mille Petrozza on vocals and guitar, Sami Yli-Simio on guitars, Christian Giesler on bass and Ventor on drums.
The tunes on Gods of Violence run the gamut from smaller radio-sized chestnuts such as World War Now (the lead-off track if you discount the intro Apocalypticon), Satan is Real, Totalitarian Terror, Hail to the Hordes, Fallen Brother and Side to Side to longer tracks like the title track, Army of Storms, the epic Lion With Eagles Wings and the gargantuan closer, Death Becomes My Light. Each has multitudes of excellent guitar work, including dual leads on many of the tunes, and riffs fast enough to blind you as they zoom by. Also a standout on all these tracks are Mille‘s vocals, which can go from introspective to menacing, oftentimes within the same tune.
World War Now is some seriously heavy thrash, with the pedal to the veritable metal right out of the box. The vocals are angry, even menacing, as mentioned before, but all together pretty clean. Mille does border on the growl at times, but he’s more of a screamer and shouter. For Kreator‘s purposes, that works just fine. Our mid-section on this opening number is a bit widdly, even Proggy at times. There is enough guitar power here to fire up the most stubborn of rock engines, as well. We are hearing at least a couple of good shredding leads here, as well as some incredible riffing.
Satan is Real is downright convincing, and there is some decided doom and gloom going on here, as evidenced by the bells and downtrodden riffs/leads in the opening sequence. There is an excellent main riff here as well. The vocals are, again, somewhere between clean and growly, with a slight lean towards the Cookie Monster area. Again, lots of guitar work going on here, particularly the lead at 2:40 and the feedback at the close. Very choice licks, indeed.
Totalitarian Terror features more big guitars and vocals, and a very fast main riff. The instrumental breakdown/lead guitar solo at 2:30 is noteworthy as well as the shredding at 3:10. The vocals are more like threats than singing, and the close-out arrives super fast. Almost too fast, I’m thinking, then Mille bellows “When freedom has died!“, and you know the tune is over all too soon.
The title track is a big monster of a track, damn near six minutes in length alone. The brooding, mellow acoustic fingerpicking intro and the sitar sounds are the beginning of our journey. The vocals and the guitars seem to be in a race towards the finish, but thankfully hang around long enough to make a real mega-tune out of these proceedings. We get a well-deserved instrumental breakdown at the three-minute mark, and at the close Mille hollers “Gods of Violence come alive!” For some reason, six minutes seems to go by much more quickly than I would have it. Ah, well – moving right along, then!
Army of Storms is another one of those tracks where they begin life with a KILLER main riff, another guitar soloing on top of that, and Mille commanding us to “RISE!”. At three minutes in there is another excellent lead guitar break. I love the marching riffing and the cowbell towards the close. The drum bit at the very end is cool also.
Hail to the Hordes starts off life with a really cool guitar intro, rhythm riffing with lead soloing on top. The guitar work here is fine indeed, as the vocals are impressive. One can’t help but wonder if Mille is shredding his vocal chords when he’s ripping away like he does! The guitar bit at 2:25 is some fine shredding indeed, and the drum work is wonderful. There is a nice crescendo at the finish as well.
Lion With Eagle Wings may well be the cherry on top for this collection. Lilting acoustics give way to slamming us into kick gear about one minute in. This is all very fast and super tight, with big riffing from almost beginning to end. Whispering vocals lends us to another of Mille‘s abilities – this man can weave a tale. Storyteller mode aside, there are some guitar histrionics going on also. At 2:45 there is some brief shredding, followed by an instrumental breakdown at the 3:15 mark. Some super riffing ensues, and the four-minute mark finds Mille and Sami duking it out to the pleasure of our collective ears. At 4:40 the vocals return to the fray, and sadly, before we know what hit us, another track is in the books. Not just any track, mind you – a sheer behemoth! The drums and bass work very well together, as they should. I would imagine it is even more difficult with thrash, because they’re just cruising so damned fast!
Fallen Brother sports a drum and guitar intro, and a real menacing main riff. I caught my head banging and my toes tapping on this one, folks! That should probably give you some idea of the types of tempo we’re dealing with here. Some very cool guitar work, lead as well as rhythm, also enhances the proceedings. There is an excellent bit of lead work at 2:30, and some German vocal FX at 2:50. A nice fadeout graces the close on this number.
Side by Side is the last of what we shall deem ‘regular size’ tunes. The vocal screams along with the guitar to let us know that we have begun. This track sports another incredibly good main riff, by the by. There is also some serious shredding on board as well, particularly at 2:15. Mille slips into storyteller mode again at about 3:15, and then returns to the main slam at 3:30. One big finish later, and we have arrived at our closing item on today’s menu.
Today’s closing track is a big whopper, coming in at almost seven-and-a-half minutes. It is called Death Becomes My Light. Something that I should mention here, and that is this: if you are a prog band, then seven-and-a-half minutes may not seem like much. However, when you are tearing it up thrash style, à la Kreator, then you’re talking about a lot more work, instrumentally and vocally, over all. Mr. Creepy Cool guitar fingerpicking intro starts of the show, then Mille goes into storyteller mode again (about 40 seconds in). At 1:15, things pick up speed a bit as the main section kicks into gear. This is a heavy double-riffer, the main riff being something from the world beyond. Very fast leads and rhythms are abundant here. At 3:15 there is some more serious riffing and lead soloing. They are both deployed again at 4:15 ( with a healthy dose of wah-wah pedal), and I believe both guitarists are ‘super shredding’ at this point. One more bluesy solo (5:10) later and this is a very pretty solo, by the way. I’ve seen guitar players cry for less. The drums and guitars close things out, with a nice feedback fade-out at the very end.
To sum up, thrash fans need not be worried about goings-on in the Kreator camp. All is indeed very, very well.