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Kreator - "Phantom Antichrist" (CD)

Kreator - "Phantom Antichrist" CD cover image

"Phantom Antichrist" track listing:

1. Mars Mantra
2. Phantom Antichrist
3. Death To The World
4. From Flood Into Fire
5. Civilisation Collapse
6. United In Hate
7. The Few, The Proud, The Broken
8. Your Heaven In My Hell
9. Victory Will Come
10. Until Our Paths Cross Again

Reviewed by on June 11, 2012

"The maligned thrash revival and bastardization of the genre with “modern thrash” certainly could use the guidance and wisdom of this tried and true German great."

In the midst of an epic evolution of the dueling subgenres of modern thrash, old school thrash, thrash revival, and post thrash/groove metal, it is easy to lose sight of the style’s origins. In fact, the evolution of thrash has become so distorted that fans have either forgotten or are too young to know that, under today’s standards, the original thrash bands would be considered speed metal or power metal (In the 80's, Running Wild was called "death metal"). Back in the day, bands like Metal Church and Agent Steel were deemed thrash right alongside Slayer, Destruction, Anthrax, and those two “M” bands that needn't garner any more attention from me. But as history unfolded, genre tagging subdivided until the original idea was thinner than hair on Scott Ian’s head. Through it all, even with the interesting twists and turns, Kreator has been putting out consistently great material ever since the band went by the moniker "Tormentor."

“Phantom Antichrist” is both thrash at its very best and heavy metal at its finest in this band’s continuing history of being the thrash scene’s finest model. Thinking back to my days as a radio DJ, I can recall the countless times I preached that if there was a perfect vocalist for the thrash genre, it would be Mille Petrozza. It wasn’t about how melodic, operatic, or good a voice should be, but the perfect voice to convey what thrash is all about. Mille has personified this on each and every album. Look deep into Kreator's back catalog and you will actually find just how versatile he truly is, which may entail seeking out the “forbidden experimental” days of “Renewal” and “Endorama” (two albums that I found to be brilliant). On “Phantom Antichrist,” Petrozza does it again, especially showing off that “softer Endorama" side in the first two minutes of the stunning album winner “Your Heaven, My Hell.”

Keeping in mind my opening point, thrash isn’t always about how “br00tal” or fast the music is, but instead it’s about the aggression. The musicians in Kreator have proven over the years that while they are solidly old school thrash with a penchant for "extreme aggression," they expertly weave in what was the original thrash (power/speed) alongside modern elements from time to time. However, where the band really shines is when the music slows to the mid to upper pace, but loses absolutely no aggression. It isn't easy to show brutality and aggression without the speed, but with tight exhilarating Teutonic riffs (traditionally among the greatest in metal), Kreator drowns the listener into forced submission.

Few bands write tastier riffage than Kreator and the group has that rare ability to capture anyone's attention as soon as those riffs start (any Kreator fan knows which ones I am talking about). The proof is in “From Flood to Fire,” “The Few, The Proud, The Broken,” and the aforementioned “Your Heaven, My Hell.” For those who desire pure speed, Kreator has you covered with “Victory Will Come,” “United in Hate” and the formidable crunch of “Death to the World.”

It isn’t a shock that Mille and company are at the top of the thrash heap. They have been there for so many years as a mainstay and proof of the absolute relevance of the genre. The maligned thrash revival and bastardization of the genre with “modern thrash” certainly could use the guidance and wisdom of this tried and true German great. Pretenders step aside, your true master has spoken.

Highs: "Your Heaven, My Hell" and "From Flood To Fire."

Lows: If you were expecting a change in the formula, seek out modern thrash.

Bottom line: Kreator once again proves that its greatness is no "Phantom Antichrist."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)