Having pounded the absolute life out of my Hordes of Chaos cd I was fit to be locked up when I found out Kreator were about to release Phantom Antichrist, and having listened to it now non stop for 3 weeks I have done the proper and just thing and awarded it the 5 stars, the musicianship is unbelievably good, the song writing is a new level for Kreator with all the little melodies entwined into the bones of thrash songs, yes it really is quite brilliant, my problem is its just not Hordes of Chaos, there is no War Curse on this CD or Amok run, what i mean by that is songs that come on and you freak, im a married man with 3 kids so i mostly listen to my cds driving, it is beyond me how i havent crashed or been caught speeding or just ran over somebody for looking like a Zombie when War Curse comes on, no songs on Phantom Antichrist give me that feeling with the possible exception of Civilization collapse, it threatens to but the riffs are cut to short, I agree with all the other excellent reviews here that Phantom Antichrist is a classical CD, but the savagery is somewhat gone.
Kreator have been on a real upward trajectory artistically speaking for the last decade or so. Since 2001's superb Violent Revolution album and the establishment of their current line-up, everything that the band have put out has been of the utmost quality, keeping to a fairly strict but non-intrusive formula and just knocking out a boatload of brilliant songs.
Now in 2012, with their thirteenth full-length studio album Phantom Antichrist, the legendary German Thrash Metal band continue in the same vein that has kept the last three albums so absolutely vital and deliver more of the same formula that mixes their classic 1980s style with elements of Gothenburg style, an intermittent touch of groove and a few sections with clean vocals over arpeggiated bits in their too for variety.
Each of the albums that follow that aforementioned formula also puts enough of an individual twist on it to have its own identity though, and I guess Phantom Antichrist's twist would be that it isn't just as fast, isn't just as heavy as often and is a lot more focused on the high-end. It's a more melodic and musical take of the Enemy Of God/Hordes Of Chaos musical direction.
Despite the title track leading with speed and low end, there's a lot of time given on the album overall to slow sections, little guitar vibratos, teasing rolls or little sneaky Hi-Hat strikes. If you are all about the Thrash side of things don't worry though, it isn't as if the band abandoned Thrash, there is a heck of a lot of it in there too. The band did a clever job of balancing mixing things up with keeping what was working well.
I have nothing but praise for this album, on first listen it already gave off "Album Of The Year Candidate" feelings and still grew on me with each subsequent spin. The performance is so energetic and pounding on the heavier songs and so subtle and studied on the more musical moments, the production is absolutely top-rate, Mille's vocals are up to the same standard of the recent few albums and the lead guitar work is inspired as always. Furthermore it is a pretty perfect length and each individual song is excellent so there is nothing in the way of filler. The album is lean, varied and perfectly formed.
If this happened to be the first Kreator album that you ever heard I am sure it would leave a damn fine first impression. If you are an existing fan it is definitely more of the same flawless formula that has been working so well on one hand, and yet also a bit of a surprise at the same time, which just helps make it fresh and worthwhile.
Highlights include the superb `Death To The World,' which has some brilliant lead guitar work and a surprising mid-section, the proggy closer `Until Our Paths Cross Again' as well as the groovy and complex `The Few The Proud The Broken' and which is exemplary of a few tracks on the album that take some of the spirit of Power Metal festival-pleasing choruses but applies it to a mostly mid-tempo Thrash number.
Overall, this is a really great album from a truly consistent and focused band that know how to write good metal songs. The only thing which I could imagine anyone ever finding bad about this album would be the idea of the band repeating themselves, for example there is a riff in `Civilizations Collapse' that sounds like one in `Coma Of Souls' and one in `United In Hate' that sounds like one in `Replicas Of Life' etc but the band pull it off so well it doesn't bother me personally. If you usually find riff-recycling a massive pain then maybe the album won't seem just as flawless as I make it out to be, so that is something to take into consideration.
As long as you liked the past few Kreator albums and aren't either sick of them or shocked at something that isn't exactly as heavy as their last two albums even if it makes up for it in other areas however, then Phantom Antichrist should be a no-brainer love affair right from the get-go.
In summary; If you want some perfectly crafted German Metal, with absolutely superb lead guitar work, great drum work and the occasional moments of sing-along grandeur or softer moments brushing shoulders with pounding yet intelligent and varied Thrash, then this is certainly worth picking up.
*** If you should happen to buy the Special Edition version, you will get one card-sleeve housing two individual digipak cases. The first has the actual album and the second has the bonus DVD.
The DVD features a twenty-minute making-of documentary called `Conquerers Of The Ice.' Although it is a making-of there isn't that much in-studio footage, maybe around a total of three minutes. The bulk of the feature is three separate interviews that are cut together with studio footage between cuts. The producer Jens Borgen is interviewed at Fascination Street Studios where the album was recorded, and Mille Petrozza is interviewed on a frozen Ocean, while guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö is interviewed in front of a Swedish castle. Topics covered include recording in Sweden, avoiding cheesiness, Osama Bin-Laden's death, the Greek economy and simultaneously tracking all members at once while recording. It isn't the most substantial documentary in the world, but it is a lot better than the one from Hordes Of Chaos.
The DVD also features a live concert from Waken Open Air Festival 2011, intercut with four tracks from Waken 2006, but done in a way that you mightn't even notice if it wasn't pointed out to you. This isn't just the live-feed slapped onto a disc however, the footage and sound have been treated, edited and tidied up and it is actually a really good feature. It may cut to the monitors a little too often and not feature all that much off of their 80s albums, but it is a damn fine live show nonetheless.
The tracklisting is: 1. Intro Choir Of The Damned 2. Hordes Of Chaos 3. War Curse 4. Endless Pain (with a riff from Coma Of Souls as an intro) 5. Pleasure To Kill 6. Destroy What Destroys You 7. Intro The Patriach 8. Violent Revolution 9. People Of The Lie 10. Europe After The Rain 11. Phobia 12. Reconquering The Throne (with a riff from Terrible Certainty as an intro) 13. Flag of Hate/Tormentor
The concert lasts 53.50 and with the improved visuals is probably actually a better DVD than their Live Kreation Revisioned Glory release. I highly recommend getting this bonus version if you can get it for cheap enough and as long as you enjoyed the Hordes Of Chaos album that makes up a lot of its track listing. ***
Where are kreator on the grand scale of things, we have the big four which is fair enough, then we have overkill, exodus, testament, yikes, there are alot , kreator havent always released 5 star albums , but this was one shock to the system, this is flawless. If i compare each of the big fours current albums then this pishes all over them, dont get me wrong, i like pretty much all of the big fours last releases but this kills them all. This is awe inducing, tear inducing, shivers up my spine ripping, stunning, and then stunning some more. This is catchy, brilliantly written and just a thrash feast of the highest order. I implore anyone who says thrash is their thing to throw this into their cd player because you will be hooked. This is my album of the year so far,get this.
This month sees the release of Phantom Antichrist, the latest album from German thrash legends Kreator. It is their thirteenth studio album to date, their first on Nuclear Blast Records, and it is very possibly the best album of their career, and yes that does include Pleasure To Kill.
Back in the halcyon heyday of thrash metal in the 1980s there were two distinct epicentres of the genre; America and Germany. As a spotty oik of a teenager during those years I found myself drawn to the American movement much more so than the German. I found it more melodic and accessible than its European counterpart. The Germans had a harsher, darker sound, more akin to Venom and the blossoming Black/Death Metal scene.
The Yanks had the Big Four and the Germans conversely had the Big Three (Kreator, Sodom and Destruction) and Kreator were their Metallica, kings of the Teutonic Thrash hill. As I said I was much more in favour of the American style but no self-respecting thrasher in those days was without a copy of Pleasure To Kill, Kreator's 1987 masterpiece.
25 years down the line and Kreator show no sign of letting up or mellowing into old age. Phantom Antichrist does not possess the raw, abrasive sound of those early albums and neither should it. They were 17 years old when they recorded Endless Pain for Christ's sake, and no-one knew what a thrash album was even supposed to sound like at that time.
That's not to say their sound has softened in any way, the punishing riff refrain towards the end of the album's self-titled opener should be enough to convince anyone of that, if it hasn't ripped your face clean off in the process. It is merely that this album has a more polished, experienced feel to it. Yes, many of the songs are more melodic than say Flag of Hate, but that is in keeping with the overall vibe of the album and makes for a far more enjoyable listening experience, without sacrificing any of their trademark aggression. Mille's voice has also become more refined over the years, allowing him a broader range in which to work, and which adds greater depth to many of the songs on here.
Another new feature is the inclusion of some Nordic/Viking rhythms and styles that hark back to some of the later Bathory albums. I have to say this works really well and is best displayed on From Flood Into Fire which will no doubt become a favourite amongst the European festival crowds this year thanks in no small part to the mother of all epic choruses. Another highlight for me personally is United In Hate which opens with a little classical guitar (another Kreator trademark) before launching into an aural assault of face-melting ferocity.
There is very little wrong with this album, even the weaker tracks such as Your Heaven My Hell are still far superior to anything that the so-called Big Four have produced over the past decade and I don't make statements like that lightly. This album can genuinely stand shoulder to shoulder with anything Kreator were doing in the 80s.
Xavier Russell of Kerrang once very famously stated that Pleasure To Kill was better than Master Of Puppets. Now I don't know it that's true or not, but I can tell you one thing, Phantom Antichrist is better than Pleasure To Kill.
Make of that what you will.
Standout Tracks: From Flood Into Fire, United In Hate, Victory Will Come. <...>
This isn't going to be a very long review, but I feel it needs to be written as all the current 'Phantom Antichrist' reviews award 5 stars and were mostly written very soon after its release - in the "hype period" where it is difficult to look level-headedly at the release and give it a fair score.
Firstly, I'm not really criticising the album, I think it's a good modern thrash record and a worthy part of Kreator's legacy. I would agree with the reviewers who saw this as a more melodic offering from a usually very heavy band and that caused a slight problem for me seeing as I love the heavier, more frantic, aggressive work that German thrash has produced in great quantities. The title track is probably most violent overall and thus the album can slump slightly later on even though the songwriting is still good quality.
All those "Album of the Year" cries don't sound stupid now (the album has generally had positive reviews) but it is symptomatic of fans to over-react when an esteemed band brings out a strong new album and I think some of the thrash-heads on Amazon and elsewhere have been guilty of a knee-jerk reaction to a decent but not incredible release.
Buy 'Phantom Antichrist' by all means, but don't expect anything too godly from it.
Over the years I have paid only cursory attention to Kreator. When I have felt the need for something heavy I often opted for the stalwarts of Thrash, Slayer, Testament etc. I would like to think that I embraced Thrash before it became mainstream seeing the potential of Metallica at Donington during their first performance when most around me were booing and launching bottles at the band. I bought Phantom Antichrist out of curiosity and to be honest, because it was relatively cheap. I can't believe what I have been missing! Heavy and fast yet beautifully melodic and brutal. If only Slayer could produce an album of such quality instead of Turing out the same stuff over and over again (and I say this as a Slayer fan since Haunting the chapel days). I have subsequently bought most of the other Kreator back catalogue and am glad I did. A guilty pleasure who are setting the standard for melodic thrash metal.
This album really surprised me. A very good mix of thrash metal with aggressive guitar solos but with also slower and melodic parts. The highlights for me include "Civilization Collapse", "From Flood Into Fire" and "Your Heaven, My Hell". This album shows a more mature band with better song writing skills, rather than just pure thrash metal aggression like in the eighties, but still keeping the violent edge. I'd recommend this album to any thrash or heavy metal fan.