Friday, June 8, 2012

Kreator - Phantom Antichrist

Very few metal bands will ever be as recognized or as important as the mighty Kreator. They have written numerous masterpieces across their 30 year career. While it’s not my favourite release, there’s no doubt that “Pleasure to Kill” is one of the most insane, fast, brutal, and influential records of all time. After enduring the 90’s, the German gods of thrash returned with a more melodic sound. Combining elements of melodic death metal with thrash turned out to be a fantastic sound that no one else can replicate as well as Kreator. One by one, they cranked out three fantastic albums, culminating with my personal favourite, “Hordes of Chaos”. The only thing left for the band to do at this point is to make the thrashy parts faster, and the melodic parts even more epic, and that’s just what the band did on “Phantom Antichrist”.

After a short intro, the album kicks off with the title track. Much like on “Enemy of God”, you are immediately pummeled with riffs. It isn’t too long, however, until the melodic elements begin to surface. Some of these lead parts sound like Iron Maiden epics, except that they have the classic Kreator riffing underneath. With that said, it does mean that this album isn’t as fast as its predecessors. Every song definitely has break-neck speed in it, but it isn’t as consistent, because some songs go through several tempo changes (“From Flood Into Fire” and “Until Our Paths Cross Again” are the two most noticeable tracks). On the plus side, when things get fast, they get really fast. Some sections from songs like “From Flood Into Fire” and “Civilization Collapse” are among the quickest in Kreator’s entire catalogue.

The best parts of this album are by far the individual performances of each musician. It goes without saying that Mille Petrozza is among the best thrash vocalists, but he really goes above and beyond on this record. He does throw in some more clean singing, and it's actually not bad. It’s isn't great technically, but he gives a passionate performance which satisfies the listener until his trademark throaty screams kick in. In addition to his great vocal display, Mille and second guitar player Sami Yli-Sirniƶ have finally mastered the art of writing guitar solos. They haven’t completely moved away from the reckless, insane, atonal soloing from their past, but they have found a better sense of melody and theory in their solos. It is a perfect fit for the sound that Kreator has embraced for the past decade. Finally, Ventor gives his absolute best effort to make all thrash drummers give up. There are tons of fills all over the album, and they’re far superior to anything he’s done in the past. The highlight is probably his fill right at the end of the opener, "Mars Mantra". As one would guess, the bass is relatively non-existent, but that’s not an issue on “Phantom Antichrist”.

In the grand scheme of Kreator’s career, this record marks yet another milestone. While some may not like it because of its excessive use of melodic lines, it is still a logical extension of their past 3 albums. The only real downfall of this record is that it isn’t thrashing 100% of the time. This doesn’t hurt any of the songs – which are still well written and enjoyable - but it does take away from the overall intensity of the album. Regardless, Kreator have graced us with yet another classic that will definitely be topping many year-end lists (including my own).

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“Phantom Antichrist"
“Death to the World"
"Civilization Collapse"
“Victory Will Come”

Final Rating:
4.6/5 or 92%

Written by Scott