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My dear friends, get your silk underpants, your frilled shirt or your velvet pyjama, here comes "Endorama", the fluffy Mille work from the year 1999, Kreator's gift for the girls' boarding school, the pink sheep of the Petrozza family. No doubt, this is the totally credible album of a thrash legend that intends to bring its real soul to life while being absolutely not interested in making money. Don't be confused by the kitschy artwork or the crude group picture in the booklet! However, it's the music which counts. With that said, let's try to judge "Endorama" unbiasedly.
I am not going to mince matters: the frequent use of the synthesizers is irritating, the relatively emotional singing of Mister Petrozza poses a riddle as well. Inter alia due to the pretty edgeless mix, the opener, usually a more or less representative track for an album, cannot hide its pop appeal. The following title track reminds faintly of the gothic sluts called Sisters of Mercy, but I am no expert for this kind of pretty polished music. Yet the involvement of the jester of Lacrimosa is really annoying and even inexperienced listeners understand pretty quickly that the four-piece has put an eye on catchy choruses while keeping the level of harshness under close control. Relatively speedy and straight parts like the verses of "Shadowland" also show up occasionally, but they do not characterize the album.
Yet despite my contempt for comparatively harmless sounds and the collaboration with dark wave nutcases, I must admit that some of the here gathered songs cannot be blamed for being shitty, insubstantial or half-baked. Okay, "Chosen Few" is a mild fart where Mille sounds like a narcissistic storyteller. In Germany we would call him a "Märchenonkel", but I fear the word "fairytale-uncle" does not exist in the English language. These inconsistencies aside, let's have a look at "Everlasting Flame". The musical content of this piece - please note the dreamful string instruments - is as kitschy as its title. If they had shortened it to three and a half minute, the song would have been perfect for the European Song Contest. To be more precise: it would have been perfect for the 21st position of the final ranking. Yet "Last Passage to Babylon" with its sharp contrast between the tranquil verses (Mille whispers moronic promises) and the explosive bridge leads (Mille spits fire) to a dynamic overall impression. This is really a good song, even if it also houses some superfluous synth gimmicks.
The emotional piano intermezzo "Entry" and the comparatively harsh "Soul Erazor" try to provide a similar contrast, but this combination does not work. Aggravating this situation, the entire second half of the album suffers from a serious problem. The melodies are less expressive. Regardless of whether one listens to "Future King" or "Willing Spirit", the songs are flat, without aggression, kind and banal. Not to mention the gruesome lyrics with lines like "So I wait as I watch the stars, I feel you're near but you're yet too far". Shit happens, my little star child. However, the more the full-length progresses, the more it becomes clear that this is a painfully trivial work, released by a quartet of business partners that tramples down its integrity. Make love with a pink sheep, if you like, but such a creature is not my preferred sex partner.
‘Endorama’ is Kreator’s most controversial album for a reason. It’s just not a very good reason. Sure, it’s not the thrash metal that the Germans are known for, but flirting with new wave, postpunk and early gothrock influences has made the record unique, both in Kreator’s disography and in the European metal scene. People might think you may have to look for riffs between the atmospherics, but ‘Endorama’ is still very much a guitar driven album. A rather memorable one at that. Only the fact that their masterpiece ‘Coma Of Souls’ was released in 1990 keeps this from being Kreator’s best nineties record.
Maybe the presence of former Coroner guitarist Tommy Vetterli has left people with the wrong expectations. Instead of bringing the complexity of the Swiss geniuses with him, his Kreator debut ‘Outcast’ is the band’s simplest record to date. Here, his influence is most felt in the production. The shoddy industrial leanings of the previous three records are exorcised in favor of a more atmospheric, layered approach that feels a little like what Coroner did on ‘Grin’. The main difference is that ‘Endorama’ borrows from the goth scene, bringing to mind The Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus and late eighties Killing Joke.
Admittedly, the low budget video of suited-up frontman Mille Petrozza in a nightclub was a little awkward, but ‘Chosen Few’ is actually a really good song. The rhythm may be borrowed from Killing Joke’s ‘Love Like Blood’, but it’s effective. In fact, never before or since has Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil’s drum work had so much swing. Petrozza’s surprisingly intimate vocal performance also works wonders. Another highlight is ‘Shadowland’, probably the most “metal” song on the album. The main theme is excellent and memorable, while the riff work gives the song a vibe somewhat reminiscent of Nevermore.
Easily the most gothic moment on the record is ‘Passage To Babylon’, with its strong focus on Christian Giesler’s bass line and the piano part. Petrozza’s voice has a somewhat tormented quality, which really adds to the dark atmosphere of the track. The subtle orchestral samples in ‘Everlasting Flame’ are also something that could only appear on this Kreator record. Closing track ‘Tyranny’ improves upon the ‘Outcast’ formula by better dynamics and a really strong melodic theme, while the remarkably upbeat, catchy opener ‘Golden Age’ could at the time have been a minor hit for any band without Kreator’s prominent thrash metal history.
While the album does wane a little bit towards the end – ‘Soul Eraser’ and the relatively riffy ‘Pandemonium’ aren’t quite as strong as the rest of the record – and more variation in the tempos may have made it even better, ‘Endorama’ is a record full of well-written songs, strong performances and an excellent production. Petrozza is rightfully still proud of the record. And that’s a good thing, because I hate it when musicians try to cover up their willful experiments. If you’re not a thrash conservative, give the album a chance. Just forget that the band ever recorded ‘Pleasure To Kill’ and let these amazing songs work their magic. It’s well worthy of your attention.
Recommended tracks: ‘Shadowland’, ‘Chosen Few’, ‘Passage To Babylon’
Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog
Yes. I am serious when I give this album a 97. This album was released in 1999, when thrash metal had pretty much been dead for 8 or 7 years. We had Destruction's ABSOLUTELY APPALLING "The Least Successful Human Cannonball" as well as Megadeth's "Risk," and Metallica's "Load" and "ReLoad." Now, is this a thrash metal album? No, not really. It is a gothic/industrial metal album with a small trace of thrash, but the thrash influence on here is only the leftover residue of burning marijuana in the bowl after it has been smoked. So basically, only one "hit" of thrash is left on here. That certainly does not make it bad in any way, and is not all that surprising. A lot of thrash metal bands in the 1990's were changing their sound. Kreator had been changing their sound since 1992's album "Renewal," which showcased a much more industrial sound. However, in 1995 on their album "Cause for Conflict," they brought back more of their thrash metal roots and introduced another new influence in their sound: groove metal. The groove influences would continue onto their next album, 1997's "Outcast," and seemingly disappear for the most part on their master piece of a follow up which is their next album, and this album: "Endorama."
With the starting track of the album, "Golden Age," we get a little taste of the overall direction of the entire album. It is minimalist, with very catchy riffs and some melodic clean singing. The song starts off with a beautiful synth passage, definitely adding an industrial sound to the song. Songs like "Shadowland" and "Willing Spirit" also contain an ultra-catchy sound, but they are not really at all cheesy. This is catchy as in darkly melodic, and atmospheric. If Kreator started out this way, they would be among the gothic metal elite, with bands such as Type O Negative, Charon, and For My Pain. That being said, Kreator's thrash albums are generally much better than this, so I personally believe it is good that they started as a thrash band, and then released this....even know it has received a lot of backlash from fans. Kreator is able to capture the darkness very well in this album. The chorus on the song "Chosen Few" is kind of dull and odd, but it still sounds decent with Mille's great clean singing. This song beautifully merges into the next track, "Everlasting Flame," which is a very good song, with meaningful and emotional lyrics. This song basically narrates someone's life, I think, as it tells the story of someone as they move through life. And, on this album, Mille's clean vocals are imperative. They almost MAKE the album what it is, very dark and melodic metal. The song "Tyranny" is definitely a perfect closer, with its melancholic riffs, that are very catchy (I know I have said that many times in this review, but it's very true).
Lyrically, I personally think Kreator has always been fairly average. Angry lyrics take up a lot of this band's previous discography, which, in all honesty, is to be expected with thrash metal. On here, the lyrics take a shit. They generally go into misery, darkness, pain, emotion....rather than the band's previous lyrical concepts. Here is a sample of lyrics from the track "Pandemonium" :
And now you know the answer
And now you see the truth
Swallow this bitter pill
As all religion dies for you
And all the things that happened
In all those times long gone
Gave birth to life like lies
Now, Kreator on this album is still expressing their anti-religious views, obviously. However, that is always to be expected. The lyrical ideas do not drift too far away, but it seems that the lyrics are even darker on this album, which suits the music more. And speaking of "Pandemonium," there is a beautiful solo in it, and as a previous reviewer stated about that melody in the beginning resembling Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark," that's pretty much right on. In fact, Kreator went for a very much NWOBHM influenced sound on this album. There are some beautiful keyboard parts on here, too. The song "Entry" is a beautiful key interlude. However, it's placement on the album is somewhat unfortunate, as it melds into one of the worst song on the album: "Soul Eraser." This song could have been left off of the album. Whenever Mille chants "SOUL ERASER," I just have to shake my head. The first half of the album definitely contains the finest tracks on here, but ironically, the best track on here is the final: "Tyranny." Full of beautiful gothic metal-like melodies and riffs. It leaves the listener wondering what he/she just experienced, whether he/she likes this offering from Kreator or not....
Well, this listener does. I think it is fantastic. Sure, not quite as good as the band's thrash albums (but it kicks the SHIT out of the three albums before it. Especially "Cause for Effect" and "Renewal."). Would I recommend this to thrash metal fans? No. Would I recommend this to fans of a darker, more emotional style of metal, such as melodic death metal, doom metal, and of course, gothic metal? Yes Now, I would also recommend it to industrial metal fans. Solid record, meant for open minded people. It unfortunately gets a lot of shit, because many thrash fans' minds are closed tighter than a virgin's cunt. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of thrash, but I am very open minded. I do, however, think it is good that they returned to thrash on their follow up album: 2001's "Violent Revolution," because if they did not return to thrash, they would not release the album that is making 2012 such a good year for metal: "Phantom Antichrist." Thank you, Kreator.
St. Anger. Cold Lake. The Least Successful Human Cannonball. Risk. Diabolus in Musica. Almost all thrash metal artists of note, with extensive careers, have a black mark against them. At least one. So it says a lot for Kreator that their black mark is really not all that bad in the grand scheme of things. Not to say that this is an album worth hearing, but of all the band's 90s experimental fare, it is Endorama which deviates the furthest from the band's incredible evolution of the 80s. It is Endorama which is the 'least' thrash of anything the band would record, and yet there is still a trace of that aggression where it's needed in these compositions. Complicated this album isn't, but essentially Mille Petrozza flossing his emotional muse across the far sharper bite of the past.
Endorama places Kreator in an accessible, Gothic metal context with simple chugging guitar riffs, droves of melodies and overt rock-influenced verse chorus structures. The writing is a lot slower than one would even be accustomed to from Renewal or Outcast, but those albums do certainly hint at what's to be found here, with their minor industrial tweaks that have here been translated into subtle synthesizers. It's definitely an interesting listen, but I feel that of all their efforts, this is the one that might have better fared if branded a Mille Petrozza 'solo' album or some other project. It seems largely a waste of the talents of several of its players, in particular Tommy Vetterli of Coroner who stayed on for this, but also the rhythm section of Reil and Giesler. The mix is clean but subdued, and to tell the truth there are a few chorus elements of note here, but it's an entire different ballgame than the band's legendary beasts Coma of Souls and Terrible Certainty.
First, I'd point out the good. "Golden Age" is the opener, with a verse structure reminiscent of Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction"; simple chugging well executed below the narrative vocal tone, erupting in a barked, but melodic chorus. Even better is "Shadowland" for its sunny but sad melodies, with some grooving outbreaks in the bridge, and a great lead which utilizes Vetterli at his strength, fluid and precise shredding. As much as it pushes the 'Gothic' on this disc to its maximum, I also rather enjoyed "Passage to Babylon", which might as well be the product of some other German band like Crematory, Dreadful Shadows or Lacrimosa (in fact, Tilo Wolff guests on this album). "Soul Eraser" produces walls of bristling harmonics and is perhaps the most thrashing, aggressive on the album, but I don't exactly love the chorus, and there are a few more pieces like "Willing Spirit" that carry the flame of "Golden Age" and "Shadowland", creating a similar effect of sweeping sunset that is married very well to the cover image. The title track, "Endorama" is half-decent, but basically feels like "Golden Age II" with a guitar line that is eerily reminiscent of Sisters of Mercy's "Temple of Love".
Outside of this, though, there's not a lot of glaring promise on this album. Some of the softer tracks like "Everlasting Flame" and the "Chosen Few" are all too forgettable, despite their uplifting atmosphere and lilting emotions. "Future King" and "Pandemonium" each have one good riff, and the latter even packs an Artillery-like punch in the verse guitar, but I just can't stand the vocal breaks, which seem too corny coming from Mille. "Tyranny" is just altogether bland, since we'd already heard the same formula executed a few times already, and it feels like something Pyogenesis might have written during their Unpop and beyond phase. Also, in general, I've found that through the years I simply never even feel the urge to visit this album, even its stronger tracks, whereas Renewal really grew on me, and Outcast has 2-3 tracks that I am often compelled to hear, despite their hardcore embellishments. Endorama might have become some lost classic, some anomaly, had its content been superior to this, but it was not and never will be strong enough.
Obviously those who could not give two shits about this German mainstay outside of their 80s period will want to stay far and wide of this album, even if they're overcoming their obstinacy to explore the band's evolution. But at least some credit must be given that Kreator, so far from home, are stilling being guided by something of a voice. You could probably share this album with your girlfriend, or your grandmother, and they might find a few of the tracks catchy, despite Petrozza's tendency back towards his barking vitriol. And the metallic components have not been abandoned, merely molded into some cross-genre tinkering. The reaction to Endorama was not one of hell and brimstone being breathed upon the band, but understandably it was not a good one, so the follow-up: Violent Revolution would steer the band back on its thrashing course, though not entirely devoid of this album's melodic charms. I would probably rank this below Cause for Conflict as the band's least impressive full-length, but unlike so many other career missteps, it's not completely deserving of anyone's chagrin.
The 90's were pretty fucked up times for metal, at least in the mainstream. Even though you had some pretty good underground bands at the time, you also had those little bastards who wanted to throw everything they were worth through the board; and decided to copy the Metallica's and Pantera's out there, dumbing out their sound for some commercial attention. Poor Megadeth was a victim of this, as well as Slayer, and other countless bands who probably got a single in the top 10 for a week. This sellout virus (I'm not going to call it 'change') also ended up affecting Kreator; but unlike most of those other 90's records, this isn't as abysmally awful like Load/Risk/VDoP/Diabolous in Musica.
The German former Thrashers sort of got it right by doing really catchy songs without resorting to groovy rhythms, and instead opted for a more Gothic-industrial rock album. They are able to pull some really catchy stuff as well, but that doesn't save this album for being bad. The greatest problem with sellout 90's albums is the lack of consistency; bands go for few radio hits, while using the whole album to package it between a sandwich of sub-par songs. We have fucking horrid shit like the Title Track, which has one of the most annoying choruses I've ever heard, Petrozza going "It's getting closer/follow my friend/endorama is crushing you" I hate it! It gets on my nerves.
Then there are many fillers; maaaanyyyy. 'Shadowland' does nothing with that pseudo groove 'riff', 'Willing Spirit' starts pretty damn good with a very catchy melody, but then it's just fucking silly, full of some shit behind the verses which can't be called anything. There's no over-the-top choruses, and I can't even notice when it ends, just when 'Pandemonium' begins. Talking about that, 'Pandemonium' is pretty good, it starts with a melody that I swear it was taken straight from Maiden's 'Fear of the Dark', and it has some decent riffs, and a fancy sweep-picking solo. There's also (this is a guilty pleasure of mine) 'Chosen Few', which even though it has Petrozza singing in an almost *gasp* CORN (hehehe, fuck their name!) voice, it managed to make me like it, with that "a new era has begunnn" chorus, which sounds really gay, but it's fun in a Breaking the Law-like way.
'Everlasting Flame' is very good; as long as you're not expecting Thrash, and are instead ready for some violin (synth probably?) hooks, and a piano--Damn right, Kreator with a piano, seek shelter! The vocals sound just a little bit mallcorish, but not much, and the hooks are enough to keep you tuned. Hell, if all of Endorama was like this, with some little hooks here and there, probably better riffs, and more guitar solos...Well we would have Youthanasia, but that album is good! The 'heaviest' song in here is 'Soul Eraser', which has the most metal riffs, a bunch of hooky melodies, and if it wasn't for the annoying robot-like vocals, it would be the best song in here, just cause I find incredibly awesome to sing 'SOULLL ERASER!'.
I'll dedicate a paragraph just for the highlight of the album, which is the opener 'Golden Age'. It manages to keep itself fun for the whole duration, with a very over-the-top yet catchy chorus, and a cool guitar solo, even though it has some really ugly 'riffs' (if you can call them that way). But 'Golden Age' probably works better because it's at the beginning of Endorama, and since it's the first, it feels fresh, and at least at those moments you're not thinking "fuck I could be listening to Coma of Souls or something".
So yes, Endorama may be 'experimental', and different from Kreator's Thrash outputs, but that's not it's problem. The problem with this album is that it's too inconsistent, with good sing-along stuff, followed by completely forgettable crap. It gets really gay at times, specially Petrozza's voice and the usual groove riff. I really these kind of albums when they're done correctly, like Youthanasia, full of over-the-topness and blazing guitar solos; and even Metallica's ReLoad (though it also has the same problems as this, it's too inconsistent). I don't think you should buy this, unless you're into Gothic/Industrial type of stuff, if not, get it for those 4-5 songs which sort of make this album not suck completely.
Alright, call me crazy but I like this album. I’ve always thought that Kreator were a bit too monotonous in their way of doing extreme thrash even if their first albums are very violent and enjoyable. Something changed from Extreme Aggression and new elements filled their sound, that was becoming more technical and less impulsive album after album. Renewal and Outcast were two examples of that (r)evolution, especially the last one where the band took another direction, focusing on the more dark and almost gothic side.
After two years from that Outcast, Kreator returned with a brand new album. The “German thrash metal scene” was a bit in crisis due to the Destruction’s musical fall and the new punkish influences by Sodom. Talking about this Endorama, Kreator have abandoned definitively thrash metal to become almost totally goth-electronic rock. Finding something metal here is very difficult and it can be considered just according to some guitars riffs.
The atmospheres are dreaming with that always present, dark touch inherited by the Outcast album. The songs are always very, very, very catchy, losing completely the impact. The vocals by Mille are far less screamed with more whispered parts. “Golden Age” is a very good opener and features always sweet melodies with an Arabic oriented solo. The tempo are mostly mid paced and almost martial. The following title track is a bit faster but always martial with weird vocals.
What makes the difference in these songs is the constant use of the lead guitars lines that lead the game, filling them with odd or melodic parts. The rhythmic guitars parts are constantly in balance between arpeggios or single note palm muting, just to create a support under the wall of melody and synth sounds. The melodies on “Shadowland” are really great (for a rock band) with a faster bass drum work and some more “metal” sounds during the verse. “Chosen Few” is average with less ideas, instead of “Everlasting Flame” that has lots of gothic influences in it. This is one of the most beautiful songs here, but it’s not metal at all.
The keyboards sounds are preponderant in most of the songs, like in the following “Passage Of Babylon” or “Future Ring”, that unfortunately mark a weaker songwriting than the other songs before. Anyway, they are always quite enjoyable. “Entry” is a very romantic, instrumental piano song, destroyed by the modern approach of “Soul Eraser”: a quite shitty song with plenty of filtrated vocals. “Willing Spirit” is ok in the melodies, while “Pandemonium” is very similar to “Phobia” (Outcast) in the tempo and rhythmic riffage.
The last “Tyranny” is average in melodies and catchiness. Surely, they gave their best in the first part of the album, while the second one features some fillers. Overall, it’s a quite good album by a complete different Kreator. An album for open-minded people, so forget thrash metal here.
I have tried for a long time to enjoy this band just as much as their Bay Area counterparts. Kreator is often praised by 80’s metal enthusiasts, and don’t get me wrong, they have several good songs and are highly influential. But they still suffer frequently from a trait that should particularly be absent from this type of music: boredom! Their earlier albums never had the aggressive catchiness of Kill ‘Em All or Pleasures of The Flesh, the epic solos of Bonded By Blood or the near-apocalyptic sense of urgency of the equally speedy and masterful Reign in Blood. You can be as fast as humanly possible, but without melody it’s useless!
Usually “experimentation” and “thrash” are two words that should not go together (post 1988-Metallica, Diabolus in Musica, Youthanasia and the entire Machine Head catalogue are some examples that come to mind). But “Endorama” avoids this trap, and while often crossing the boundaries into industrial and (gasp!) goth elements, generally works musically. For starters, Mille Petrozza’s vocals and lyrics are decent. His thrash equivalents are above-average, and the trend continues throughout this album without sounding too whiny or lame. The opening two tracks “Golden Age” and “Endorama” have memorable riffs and leads, with the former containing the best chorus on the album. “Everlasting Flame” has a solid intro and overall song structure that makes you forget about the slightly mallcorish vocals. “Entry” is a brief but highly effective interlude, while “Willing Spirit” has another great chorus. “Pandemonium” is the album’s biggest hint at thrash, and is actually above average for Kreator.
That being said, there are some real duds on this album. “Shadowland” suffers from the typically dull Kreator riffs and overdone drumming, while the break in “Future Ring” is very lame, and “Soul Eraser” is downright annoying (especially since it kills off a great instrumental track). Much electronica is used throughout this album, but it is still largely guitar driven, so it thankfully still sounds more like metal than Nine Inch Nails. The groove-oriented riffs and (you guessed it!) melody in “Endorama” are a welcome change in pace for this band, although it appears Kreator have returned to their roots with the mediocre thrash in “Enemy of God”.