Nuclear Blast Records
Kreator‘s reputation as one of Germany’s premium thrash metal acts is certainly justified, being one of the first out of the country and presenting to fans of thrash albums like Endless Pain and Coma of Souls. Even the more recent albums like Violent Revolution and Enemy of God, with the cutting edge modern production has seen the band not lose their touch in writing some of the hardest hitting songs ever. This year marks the release of numerous high profile thrash albums, and Kreator‘s 13th studio effort, Phantom Antichrist is one of them.
Mars Mantra could easily mislead longtime fans of the band into thinking that the band has gone all soft and weak with the track being a rather soothing intro, complete with clean guitars, and later a rather melodic lead guitar line. But these are merely a facade, as the band goes into their trademark breakneck speed once the title track, Phantom Antichrist begins. The trademark gruff shouts of Mille immediately brings listeners to familiar ground, along with the razor sharp guitar riffs of himself and Sami, all allowing the aggression and energy of the band to flow out fully. Drummer Ventor adds a nice touch with his energetic drumming, making what would have been rather empty segments with clever drum fills, technical yet not overly flamboyant to outshine the rest of the band, and providing the much needed speed in the music.
One’s hasty conclusion that the band has gone melodic are not entirely wrong as Phantom Antichrist could possibly contain some of the most melodic moments that Kreator has ever written, and this not only in terms of the lead guitar lines that are present throughout the album, but also in the riffing patterns of certain tracks. For example, the guitar solos on Death to the World are incredibly melodic, and the slower and melodic riffing on From Flood into Fire almost leans into melodic death metal territory, complete with an acoustic section with clean singing, though the huge and ballsy guitar tone ensures that things don’t end up too pussified, resulting in a rather crushing track. United in Hate even includes an acoustic guitar intro, tricking one into thinking this as another interlude, though it really is just the calm before the violent storm.
The band’s songwriting prowess is also evident throughout with the ability to include rather anthemic moments like on Death to the World without losing any of the aggression or power that the band has come to be known for over their music career. In addition, songs like Civilization Collapse see the band include additional percussions, giving the track a rather martial yet ethnic/tribal feel at the same time, further expanding the sound of Kreator and ensuring that listeners are constantly kept engaged in the band’s music.
Sure, some may not like the more melodic path that Kreator has taken on Phantom Antichrist, and these melodic moments get rather numerous as the album progresses, though honestly nothing too alienating for fans of recent material of the band. But the aggression and the hatred that the band has are still present on Phantom Antichrist, and is certainly a step forward for the band as they explore their sound and include a wider variety of influences in their music.
Picks: Phantom Antichrist, Civilization Collapse