Sunday Old School: Kreator
Previously in Sunday Old School, we've looked at several big names in thrash metal from all over the world. These include two of the "Three Kings" of German thrash, Sodom and Destruction. This week we'll be completing the trilogy by taking a look at Kreator, arguably the most well known of the three. Kreator were formed in the city of Essen in 1982 by vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza and drummer Jürgen 'Ventor' Reil, originally using the moniker, Tyrant before switching to the name, Tormentor, under which name they released two demos which attracted the attention of Noise Records, home of such other notable metal artists as Celtic Frost and later Sabbat. It was the label’s suggestion that the band change their name, due to the company already having a band from Hungary on their books called Tormentor, and so the German thrashers settled on Kreator instead. The band recorded their debut album, "Endless Pain" in only ten days, featured had a more proto-black metal sound, similar to what Sodom were doing at the time. "Endless Pain" was released in 1985 and was soon followed by the groups sophomore effort, "Pleasure To Kill," which is now considered something of a thrash metal classic and a clear influence of the burgeoning death metal genre. The success of the album led them to embark on their first ever tour (having performed only five gigs before it’s release) and soon they followed with their third record, "Terrible Certainty," which like its predecessor was critically acclaimed and warmly welcomed by underground metal fans, owing in part to the songs, "Behind The Mirror" and their first music video for "Toxic Trace," as well as a strong cover of the Raven song, "Lambs To The Slaughter."
They then focused on breaking America with their next effort, "Extreme Aggression," which was produced by Randy Burns, notable for his work with established metal bands such as Megadeth. "Extreme Aggression" became a hit in Europe and helped to achieve their goal of penetrating the American market when the music videos for the song, "Betrayer," as well as the title track received regular airplay on MTVs Headbangers Ball, before touring North America for the first time with Suicidal Tendencies. The band soon released a fifth album entitled, "Coma Of Souls," which, while praised by many, failed to gain the same recognition that previous records did, with some feeling that the album sounded rushed, though it still managed to sell quite well and spawned two singles in "People Of The Lie" and "When The Sun Burns Red."
Many thrash metal bands decided to experiment with their sound in the nineties, due to the massive decline in popularity which faced the genre, and Kreator was to be no exception. They first tried a different approach when they released "Renewal" in 1992, which was a much more death metal orientated affair than previous releases, though it also featured some industrial elements, which were not welcomed at all by their fan base, who had already accused the band of selling out for embracing the death metal genre. The band itself then began to experience hardship, with founding bass player Roberto Fioretti deciding to quit the group, before drummer "Ventor" followed suit, leaving Petrozza as the sole original member left. They were also forced to find a new record label, which they did in G.U.N. Records, who released Kreators seventh album, "Cause For Conflict" in 1995. The album continued the industrial metal experimentation, but brought back a slightly more thrash metal orientated sound, mixed with the popular groove metal style of the time. More departures followed but Kreator did welcome back "Ventor" to the fold and dabbled in new sounds even further, particularly in goth and ambient music for their next two albums, "Outcast" and "Endorama" While these two albums contained some interesting ideas, they were largely ignored by many metal fans, leaving the band at its lowest commercial point.
A return to form was to follow next, when Kreator recruited Finnish guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö and released their tenth studio album, "Violent Revolution," in 2001, which saw the group return to their thrash metal roots, with some "Gothenburg" inspired riffs. The tour for the record proved highly successful, a welcome change from the struggle to fill venues that the band faced in the decade before. Such was the popularity of the tour that a live album and DVD, entitled, “Live Kreation” was released in 2003, before the band teamed up with sought after producer and former Sabbath guitarist Andy Sneap for their next studio album, "Enemy Of God," which was released in 2005, which was once again highly praised by fans and critics alike and saw the band tour with other successful bands such as Hatebreed and Napalm Death. Following the release of another live DVD in 2008, "At The Pulse Of Kapitulation," which featured their previous home video releases "Live in East Berlin" and "Hallucinative Comas," the group once more got to work on new material, surfacing the next year in the form of "Hordes Of Chaos," which proved to be their most commercially successful album yet, entering the Billboard charts at number 165, the first time Kreator has entered the American album charts, as well as entering the top twenty in Finland. Since then, the band has been touring all over the world, performing at such festivals as Wacken Open Air and Graspop Metal Meeting and are preparing to release their thirteenth studio album, "Phantom Antichrist" this Summer.
Kreator - "Pleasure To Kill"
Kreator - "Toxic Trace"
Kreator - "Chosen Few"
Kreator - "Violent Revolution"
Kreator - "Voices of the Dead"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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