The continuously unfolding exploits of human societies are an endless source of drama, conflict and the occasional glimpse of how things could be if altruism took over our collective behavior. Artists throughout the ages have always stood witness to the events that shape our world and have presented their messages in relation to what happens around them. Contemporary artists of all types, as well as everyone else, have access to an infinite amount of information which can take them every which way possible and shape their messages. This has been a prevalent aspect of lots of metal bands, despite the method of delivering such messages being rather inaccessible to a mainstream audience. One band that has consistently stood witness to our conflicts and addressed them in its own theatrical way is Kreator.
Ever since the band’s early days in the early 80s in Essen, Germany (or West Germany as it was known at that time), Kreator has always made a point regarding some notable world events. This has always been presented with Mille Petrozza’s anger-laden barks and his depictions of a dystopian human society, all efficiently integrated into an aggressive and raw thrash metal framework. So what kind of output would one expect from a band in its fourth decade of existence? To pretty much no one’s surprise, 2017’s Gods of Violence is classic Kreator and is an evolution of the band’s revival sound which has engaged thrash fans ever since their 2001 comeback album Violent Revolution.
Arguably the most notable characteristic of twenty first century Kreator is the un-changed line up. Finnish guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö has undoubtedly bolstered the band since joining in 2001 but he also introduced a melodic inclination to Kreator’s metal thrashing madness that just wasn’t there before him. Gods of Violence is continuation of this as it rumbles on for fifty-one minutes with material that sounds fresh yet still maintains a connection to the past. The second track “World War Now” is a prime example of this as it gives plows through the razor sharp riffs yet still has a bit of intriguing lead guitar interplay. “Hail to the Hordes” is another case where the blending of melody and aggression is pushed further; possibly more than any other track.
The likes of “Totalitarian Terror” and “Side by Side” burst with high tempo and aggression that would make them fit perfectly alongside classics such as “Terrorzone” or “As the World Burns” while the title track is everything that’s good about thrash. It is the familiarly brash and downright livid lyrics, the menacing shouts, the pulsating drums and riffs that know no mercy. “Lion with Eagle Wings” is another fist-pumping screamer that comes with some rather interesting guitar layering and a bit of varied drumming as well. The possible odd one out on this record would be “Fallen Brother” as it is a slightly darker piece with emphasis on deeper chugging riffs and a theatrical chorus.
Gods of Violence is by no means a reinvention of thrash nor is it a venture into uncharted territory for Kreator. It’s an album on which a group of veterans sound comfortable in their own sound and doing their best to keep it fresh. It is worth noting that it comes almost five years after its predecessor Phantom Antichrist which points towards the fact that they’re being quite deliberate with their output and not rushing to keep up with the two year album cycle. It is always hard to argue which album could be the band’s best, especially when one has fourteen albums to evaluate, but regardless of the outcome of such arguments, Gods of Violence is sure to please Kreator fans across the board.