Album review: Kreator – Gods of Violence

Genre: Thrash metal

Release date: 27th January 2017

Record label: Nuclear Blast

After unleashing thirteen full-length studio albums over the course of 32 years, it would be expected that German thrash veterans Kreator begin to hit the proverbial “wall” of creativity. With just that many records under a band’s belt, how do they continue to generate new ideas? Surely, every possible angle has been explored by this point.

This is the attitude many sceptical fans and critics will doubtlessly have going into the Teutonic metallers’ fourteenth juggernaut, Gods of Violence, which will be exploding onto shelves at the end of the month. And it’s a more than understandable point of view, with the odds definitely being against Kreator and their new record. However, if the last twelve months have been good for anything, it’s classic thrash, with Death Angel, Testament, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and more all churning out A* releases in 2016. Gods of Violence is the latest addition to that awesome club.

Much like Phantom Antichrist (2012) before it, this new record is the perfect meeting point between the indomitable might of European thrash and the classical-yet-extreme harmonies of melodic death metal. Entries like the title track, “Army of Storms” and “Totalitarian Terror” especially are perfect thrash–melo-death hybrids, balancing heavy and headbang-inducing riffs and drumming with empowering, sing-along choruses. Any lover of the grandiose theatricality that metal instinctively brings with it wherever it goes will doubtlessly be sucked in by Gods of Violence.

But the mix of melody and heavy abrasiveness is something that Kreator has been specialising in since Violent Retribution in 2001. For elite fans, does Gods of Violence actually bring anything new to the table, above continuing the admittedly enticing and far-from-tired formula the German quartet has cooked up? Truly, yes, as not only is this new release something of a concept album – with most tracks transforming a contemporary political concern into a gothic, horror-inspired image – but it also has the magnum opus “Death Becomes My Light” on its side.

A seven-and-a-half-minute opus that explores the notion of the afterlife, it is a visceral epic that opens as a clean, slow, emotive experience, but quickly evolves into a plethora of masterful axe-wielding and pitched shouts from frontman Mille Petrozza. It’s a perfect summation of the entire record that came before it, with added structural experimentation and a genuinely thought-provoking subject matter.

It’s a pitch perfect end to a simply fantastic record: Gods of Violence may not reinvent the metal wheel, but it is among the best entries into the Kreator canon, getting the absolute most out of the archetypal thrash conventions and displaying a sheer level of creativity that some younger bands don’t even possess. As the new-school threatens to take over, the old guard Kreator clings to relevance once again with what brought them to the dance: insanely good metal.

Final rating: Gods of Violence gets 9 Punkte out of 10.

Gods of Violence will be available physically and digitally via Nuclear Blast Records on 27th January 2017.