The first four albums in the illustrious career of German Thrash Metal titans Kreator were such milestones for the genre that following them up was always going to be a tough job. The reissued versions released last year were stunning examples of how good reissues can be when someone takes time over them, and gives them the attention that they deserve. The second batch of four feature the same stunning packaging, beefed up sound via a 2018 remaster, and bonus content to make your head spin. The vinyl versions are particularly tasty…
First up is ‘Coma Of Souls’. Originally released in 1990, it’s arguably the last Kreator album from this period that fans rated. Everything that you would expect from Mille Petrozza and Kreator feature in abundance: The breakneck speed of the guitars is matched by the pounding drums, Petrozza’s tortured vocals spat out with fury… but the beginning of a change in style from the band can be traced back to ‘Coma Of Souls’. The influence of Iron Maiden can be heard creeping in on ‘When The Sun Burns Red’, ‘Terror Zone’ and ‘Agents Of Brutality’. Likewise, the intro on ‘Material World Paranoia’ hints at a Judas Priest influence. It’s a strong album, regardless of the influences and hints of a change in pace. The bonus disc is a brutal live show recorded in Germany in 1990. Tracks from ‘Coma Of Souls’ meshed with Kreator classics, it’s raw and uncompromising. Exactly what you would expect from Kreator.
‘Renewal’ was the album that signalled the beginning of the experimental phase in Kreator’s career. The vocals from Petrozza are more hardcore than thrash, and in places, Biohazard springs to mind. The drum sound is quite strange at times. Remember Lars Ulrich on ‘St Anger’? It’s not as bad as that, but parts of ‘Winter Martyrium’ sound like they were recorded using an upturned biscuit tin. That’s not to say ‘Renewal’ doesn’t have its moments. The title track is surprisingly good once you get over the fact that it is indeed Kreator. ‘Brainseed’ and ‘Zero To None’ are other highlights. Henry Rollins and Black Flag, anyone? ‘Depression Unrest’ played havoc with the minds of long-term fans with its industrial tinges. A step too far for some.
If ‘Renewal’ is considered the weakest link in output from Kreator, then ‘Cause For Conflict’ must be the return to form. ‘Cause For Conflict’ saw Petrozza grow into the hardcore shouting style that ‘Renewal’ had hinted at, and thankfully the biscuit tin had been thrown out, as the drum sound is back to it’s brutal best. ‘Catholic Despot’ still poleaxes you some twenty-three years later, and the intro to ‘Lost’ will have anyone air-drumming like a loon. Guitar wise, it has a Pantera feel in places, which merges well with a more traditional thrash sound than that on ‘Renewal’. Still experimental and to an extent still quite risky, but Kreator were always going to take those risks. The trippy intro to closing track ‘Isolation’ melted a few heads, but that’s nothing compared to the freaky outro that runs the track to eleven minutes in length. After the music fades, there are four minutes of silence, interrupted a cacophony of loops, squealing animals and high pitched shrieks. Bonkers, mate. Bonus cuts include the stunning (and creepy) ‘Suicide In Swamps’, which originally featured on the ‘Scenarios Of Violence’ compilation in 1996.
The goth in me loves the last of these four reissues. ‘Outcast’ might have been met by howls of disapproval from some long-term Kreator fans, but give the album a chance, peeps. Bands change their sound for a reason; namely that sticking to the same template time after time stifles creativity, and the Mille Petrozza that recorded ‘Outcast’ was 12 years older than the Mille Petrozza that recorded ‘Endless Pain’ back in 1985. ‘Outcast’ features a lot of programming as it ramps up the goth and industrial influences. There’s some stunning work on this album, though. ‘Black Sunrise’ is as far removed from the thrash beginnings of the band as anything that you are likely ever to hear. A mixture of whispered vocals (think Alice Cooper and ‘Dwight Fry’), tortured screams, deep foreboding rhythms and sinister loops. Goth suddenly got dangerous. The drum heavy ‘Enemy Unseen’ is another standout moment, especially for frustrated drummers everywhere. Considering the world was wrapped up in Nu-Metal at the time, this was a welcome relief. The 2018 remaster is cleaner than the original, and helps bring Petrozza’s vocals to life. Some remasters will have you scratching your head wondering if they actually did anything to it. Not these. They are incredible. If that wasn’t enough, you also get a bonus disc recorded live in 1998.
Available now through BMG, order here.