Kreator – Phantom Antichrist [9 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

Teutonic thrash veterans Kreator have been around for more than 30 years, and their twelve studio albums thus far have taken them through quite a journey. They started with out-and-out thrash metal on the first four albums, after which they began experimenting during the 90’s, and at the turn of the century, they returned with a hybrid of thrash and Scandinavian melodic death metal on albums such as “Violent Revolution” and “Enemy Of God”. But their latest album “Hordes Of Chaos” really took them back to the roots, not only in terms of musical style but also the recording process. For the most part, they used analog tape to record this album in a live setting, giving it the exact mid 80’s vibe that laid the foundation for the band in the first place. Based on the strength of this album, Kreator also completed a successful world tour, including a very memorable gig at the House of Blues in Hollywood, on March 23rd 2010. That show remains strong in my memory, as Kreator definitely proved themselves to be one of the most intense and violent thrash metal acts going around, when it comes to the live performance. It’s now been three-and-a-half years since the release of “Hordes Of Chaos”, and it’s time to embrace Kreator’s follow-up effort “Phantom Antichrist”, which also marks their debut on the Nuclear Blast label.

Right from the outset, it’s clear that the production values of this album are similar to those of the previous one, and it has the same rawness that gave “Hordes Of Chaos” the old-school Kreator touch. So in that sense, “Phantom Antichrist” resembles its predecessor, but I think that’s where the similarity ends. The thrash element is less prominent, and the album is certainly more melodic, more along the lines of the music they put out on “Violent Revolution” and “Enemy Of God”. Guitar melodies and harmonies are abundant throughout the album, and the alternate-picking style of “Hordes Of Chaos” is largely absent. The typically relentless thrash drumming is also not so evident on here. I’m not trying to say that these are negative aspects. Not by any stretch. But one thing is for sure. Fans of early Kreator, and indeed fans of the aforementioned 2008 album will need to open up their minds to be able to appreciate the music on “Phantom Antichrist”.

Frontman Mille Petrozza has delved deeper into his vocal range by coming up with some great clean segments on tunes such as “From Flood Into Fire”, but at the same time, he is largely responsible for the aggression exuded by the music, both through his harsh vocals and rhythm guitar parts. “United In Hate” perhaps comes closest to the typical Kreator thrash tune, and even though it has its fair share of the melodic elements, it should be well appreciated by fans. “Victory Will Come” is another one that falls in the same category. But broadly speaking, speed is not this album’s forte.

With that being said, this change in style doesn’t come across as deliberate or forceful, and to me it simply sounds like something that came to the band naturally when they sat down to write the album. The slower, progressive elements that decorate most of the tunes on this album, specially in the latter half, might have been a consequence of guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö’s involvement in the progressive death metal band Barren Earth, who released two albums during the gap between “Hordes Of Chaos” and “Phantom Antichrist”. As a result, this 9-track album comes up to a duration of 45 minutes, which is long by Kreator standards, but also means more guitar solos and varying musical patterns.

To conclude, I’d say this album really surprised me, as it’s not really the next logical step from “Hordes Of Chaos”. But, it’s a very well-rounded effort, and not only represents Kreator’s musical repertoire of the past, but also expands it. For that reason, it should garner approval from Kreator fans. It will also make the band’s live show more dynamic in my opinion, as now they’ll have something different to throw into the mix. I for one can’t wait to find that out for myself at the Bangalore Open Air on June 16th, and I hope Kreator includes a few of these new tunes. All in all, “Phantom Antichrist” is an excellent multifaceted composition that should grow rapidly on listeners.

Rating: 9/10
[Click here to pre-order the album via Amazon]

Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Dates: June 1st/5th (Europe/North America)

Track Listing:
01. Mars Mantra + Phantom Antichrist
02. Death To The World
03. From Flood Into Fire
04. Civilization Collapse
05. United In Hate
06. The Few, The Proud, The Broken
07. Your Heaven My Hell
08. Victory Will Come
09. Until Our Paths Cross Again

Kreator links: