Sound — 9
There's been a lot of talk about Metallica's return to form with Death Magnetic, but they aren't the only metal veterans that continue to keep old school thrash alive. Germany's Kreator might not have received the same success in terms of record sales that their counterparts in Metallica have over the years, but in many ways Kreator is delivering a much purer and gutsier version of the sound that originally made them a household name. Their 12th studio album Hordes Of Chaos combines elements of some of the greatest metal bands of the past few decades, with the dual guitar team of Mille Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirnio delivering amazing riffwork along the way. Some of you might remember that Kreator formed back in 1982, not long after the likes of Metallic, Slayer, and Venom. Those influences were strongly evident on earlier works, and the band has been returning to its roots ever since 2005's Enemy of God. While Hordes of Chaos isn't quite as groundbreaking as some metal albums over the years, it still packs a punch. There are a few moments of calm, during which time Yli-Sirnio delivers a clean, classical-sounding interludes, but for the most part Hordes of Chaos is an apt title. If you enjoy Iron Maiden, you'll undoubtedly be pleased by what you hear in the first few moments of the CD. The title track features a similar dual-guitar-driven intro that you might get on any given Maiden record, but this is not a band that stays in one place very long. The thrash follows shortly after, with other moments delivering leads that evoke a Megadeth vibe. If you prefer something a little more aggressive and in-your-face, Warcurse has almost a Slayer-like sound to its chorus. That doesn't necessarily mean the whole song feels like a rehashing of a Kerry King track, however. Kreator often jam-packs their songs with multiple musical sections that vary in tempo and style - more so than most metal bands - and if anything, you hear something new each time you listen. Some might take issue that Kreator writes too many sections during the course of one song (although vocalist/guitarist Petrozza maintains the same vocal style for much of the CD), but there is still some amazing musicianship underneath it all. If you are a fan of guitar teams, Kreator is a band that you'll absolutely be able to appreciate. Whether the focus is rhythmic mastery (Escalation) quiet, instrumental moments (Corpses of Liberty), or thrash fury (Demon Prince) proves that Kreator is creatively still a viable band on the metal scene.
Lyrics — 9
A recent press release described the album as a powerhouse featuring rigorous thrash attacks and Kreator's familiarly intelligent lyrics about self-determination and the dangers of contemporary war propaganda." While it's not completely blatant in every line on the CD, that message does come across in tracks like Warcurse, Amok Run, and Demon Prince. The themes might not seem to far removed from what you might hear from Megadeth, but it's still novel that Kreator is taking the time to reflect upon the state of the political world.
Overall Impression — 9
The biggest change for Kreator might not be immediately evident when you first listen to Hordes of Chaos. Apparently the group opted for a more organic recording process, without relying on the usual computers to tweak the sound. The results are far from raw, and the clarity of the album is amazing. Hordes of Chaos is an album that has so much going on that you're going to want to hear every little nuance that an instrument makes, and for the most part that comes through crystal clear - possibly because they didn't use computers to perfect the sound. While the music might sound too familiar to some, it's a good kind of familiarity. When you evoke everyone from Iron Maiden to Slayer to Megadeth in the same album, that cannot be a bad thing.