KREATOR – Gods of Violence
The likes of Testament and Kreator, once second fiddlers to the once mighty Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) have surpassed them while stopping them from disappearing up their own asses. At this point it is really anyone’s guess whether Kreator seriously benefited from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal like, say, Sodom or Destruction, or whether they are simply "Reconquering the Throne" as in the opener on the album "Violent Revolution" but what’s clear is that they are truly getting better with age, on a creative kick-your-ass-like-no-band-before uninterrupted streak since that 2001’s comeback, arguably "Enemy of God" balancing ye olde but oh so goode "Extreme Aggression" with the melodic sweetness of experimental "Outcast" (evidently in more ways than one so named). "Gods of Violence" follows "Hordes of Chaos" and "Phantom Antichrist"‘ in this successful formula while pushing the envelope on how melodic and catchy they can get while increasingly brutally thrash metal.
Is Kreator formulaic? Yes, to a degree which reflects my score (Army of Storms, Hail to the Hordes) but they also aren’t afraid to experiment outside the successful formula (Star Wars – like intro instrumental Apocalypticon courtesy of Fleshgod Apocalypse) or within it such as on the closing "Death Becomes My Light" or "Lion With Eagle Wings". Mille has a good ballad clean voice that despite heavy German accent fails to sound like a constipated frog (as in the case of Dave Mustaine for instance), convincing and engaging while leaving an epic mark on the more varied material. The second half of the album is very heavily Iron Maiden referenced while giving actual nods to the melodic sensibilities of "Outcast", why the excellent "Fallen Brother" (with half-German lyrics) a distant echo of "Whatever It May Take" but, too, "Dystopia" (Enemy of God) or "Some Pain Will Last (Extreme Measures). Melody and hooks rule this album and seriously contribute to the replay value yet without the slightest compromise in the trademark "Impossible Brutality" (Enemy of God) Kreator is known for. True, though Mille is best when he performs a vasectomy without anesthesia on you such as in the first song proper "World War Now" or reviewer’s favorite "Totalitarian Terror" that winks at "Extreme Aggression", as my metal Jedi master Rune Grande noted in his review Kreator seriously developed melodically and the sheer catchiness of these tunes cannot be denied. The title track’s chorus guitar salvo may sound like a bona fide 50 mm caliber gun and believe me I am all too familiar with the real thing but the underlying melody is highly reminiscent of Septic Flesh’s experimental "Revolution DNA" album. The production of Jens Bergen, known for working with the likes of Katatonia, is simultaneously incredibly detailed, balanced and rich and shall we say romantic yet it still feeds your teeth to your pancreas, stomach and liver for a total annihilation.
The subject matter of most tracks is consistent with my own worldview, mankind enthusiastically looking forward to flushing itself down its own asshole with resurgence of Neo-Nazi sentiments worldwide, a long warring of three useless Abrahamic religions soon culminating in an apocalyptic fuck-all, especially with, ahem, "Material World Paranoia" (Coma of Souls) related to designating the new american chief administrator, a vain, hollow political and ideological turncoat flip-flopper male baby suit, somehow horrifyingly sudden sole judge jury and executioner of the world’s fate to the sexual thrill of white supremacy, yet all the same a spitting image of what the former land of the free home of the brave has become, the true face of the American public the world had long been seeing and we denying now out there in the open while we freely exclaim after Burton C Bell of Fear Factory, "THIS is America, this is America and I love america, I love America!!!" But mostly, Mille and I are sick and tired of mankind’s pathetic attempt at government, particularly with the utter failure of the American experiment, with "terror from the left, terror from the right" as on the titular "Phantom Antichrist", "GOV’s" (acronymous coincidence?) predecessor hinted at, himself offering alternative in world anarchy (Hail to the Hordes), myself, a world wide spiritual renewal based on the idea that all is one and that it is the very ubiquitous adversarial worldwide mentality that is killing the planet, something that Petrozza makes clear in the metaphorical "Satan Is Real" ("satan” Aramaic for adversary) one of the heaviest Kreator tracks to date, one I suspect Matt Heafy of Trivium would love to call his own but sorry, bud. Satan is simply mankind at its worst and most pathetic, religion personified, not some detached supreme diabolical entity, yet in that sense it is all too real, indeed, a counterpoint to Abraham Lincoln’s "better angels of our nature" or perhaps a mockery of his legacy. Mille sees that mankind has already lost with itself and it’s only on the level of individual renewal and awakening that we can cling to any hope, interestingly echoing yet correcting the skewed individual focus national socialism claims to aim for but subjects that very individual to the power of a faceless state, instead. He suggests for example that we stop being so afraid of death and accept its inevitability while recalling visual manifestations of ultimate evil (in the released music videos) related to his country’s own past as if to say to us, Americans, look, you are currently embracing what we, Germans, puked up long time ago. Have fun eating our vomit.
But let’s not forget what "Gods of Violence" is mainly for: to shed any doubt that metal is here to stay and better than ever, the eternal alternative to all alternatives, its own simultaneous cause and effect, the Phil Anselmian "myself influence I" and shall forever remain to be so for as long as it is not trying to be what is not, either sheer entertainment or solely a socio-political mouthpiece. It is both and neither entirely, its own paradigm of an ambiguous esoteric value, unmeasured, intangible but felt all the more strongly.
Testament’s last year phenomenal "Brotherhood of the Snake" and this here "Gods of Violence" continually prove what Mille Petrozza, essentially, said in a recent interview: age is no excuse, it’s a a number, a state of either a creative or a senile mind. You already know what the bottom line is going to be: buy or die, motherfucker, so get!