A dark album, with multiple lyrical tonalities and stretching the thrash template further than many of their contemporaries. Forget the clichés, this is a band that takes the 'open E', tosses it aside and moves it through many gear changes.
Mille Petrozza and his cohorts have pulled together a selection of 11 tracks of sufficient variety and depth that this should propel the Teurtonic four-piece further on the ladder.
Not that they need much of a boost given their reputation, but on this, their 14th album the boundaries have been pushed. While on the likes of 'Totalitarian Terror' the musical thrash template remains firmly in place as it romps along, full-speed ahead - albeit with an insanely likeable chorus.
This is an album rooted in the present, not only with the added musical dimensions, but in current world events. Petrozza's lyrics reflect the turmoil many feel and some of his word play began after the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, including the murders at the Bataclan.
“Currently, religion has regained a level of importance that I would have never considered possible 20 years ago,” Mille said. “An extremely dangerous polarization is taking place, giving rise to growing hate among us all. That‘s what I wanted to write about.
“These days, our weapons of mass destruction are called hatred and religious delusion. It‘s a vertical war, being fought by the media as well as by fanatics of all shades."
'World War Now' deals with it in a well balanced series of observations, while 'Gods of Violence' deals with Mille's propensity to war against each other throughout the ages. The latter track also features a 12-year-old harpist Tekla-Li Wadensten...
While it is fair enough to look upon the lyrical maturity, this is an album that features musical excellence. The inter-play between Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirniö is impressive and Yli-Sirniö pulls out some stunning solos that are not mere fretboard frenzy, but match the tunes.
Even on the straightforward battering on the likes of 'Totalitarian Terror' and 'Army of Storms' the thrash is played with, counterpoints and melodies woven subtly into the mix.
Producer Jens Bogren has managed to pull out of Kreator a stunning selection of tracks and the band's willingness to draw other influences in pays off. As well as the aforementioned pre-teen harpist, indie popster Dagobert has a guest slot and Fleshgod Apocalypse helped in the orchestration of four songs.
While Petrozza and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums) may be the only 'original' members there, as some backward looking fans might see it, but this has been a stable line-up from 2001 and Reil's work with Christian Giesler (bass) knits the musical concept together in impressive style, such as on 'Lion With Eagle Wimngs', which together with 'Satan Is Real' are stand-outs.
However, it is unfair to pick two tracks in this plethora of enjoyable thrash. This is as complete an album as Kreator have released. While it is always hard to try and rationalise how bands manage to stay fresh the fact that they are still rooted in Essen, west Germany may help. When anyone strays from home they can lose their identity. Petrozza certainly hasn't lost that identity.
What will surprise many is the closing track 'Death Becomes My Light' - a seven and a half minute track dealing with near death experiences and with an epic feel. Even when it has manic riffing there is space and breath - this isn't another 'thrash' track with a subtle intro.
And, this isn't another thrash album. Yes, the speed and frenetic riffing is ever-present, but there is more depth and thoughtfulness than many can exact in the genre.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Gods of Violence is out on Nuclear Blast on 27th January