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Yeah, that’s fucking right! Forget about those vapid retro-thrash bands and make way for the kings of European thrash, mighty Kreator! Uhh, what a fanboy-like line I just wrote there. Sorry, my dear metal brothers and sisters, it’s been a few months since I wrote my last review, but I’m back to charge again (not that anybody missed me). Like many of you, I was highly excited about Kreator’s newest release, the blandly titled Phantom Antichrist. My favorite thrash band, no use in hiding that fact, has been on a hot streak since 2001’s magnificent comeback album Violent Revolution. Both 2005’s Enemy of God and the underrated 2009’s Hordes of Chaos, though not as freakingly catchy as VR, have contributed to maintain the Germans at the top of the game, blowing off their veteran peers at both sides of the pond (with the exception of Overkill… maybe) as well as the abundant old-school thrash wannabes that just keep popping out of nowhere every damn second.
The recipe for this success can be narrowed to a single ingredient, nowadays somehow difficult to find in the metal world: consistency. Quality headbang-inducing riffs. Catchy and compelling songwriting. Relevant if not very sophisticated lyrics. Uncompromising attitude. Three, and now four, albums in a row! Hellyeah! These gentlemen just don’t seem to start slowing down. And while this is no thrashterpiece, it’s not that far either. With great artwork (personally I prefer Mr. Benscoter’s standard version to Mr. Meininghaus’ digipak one), and a crisp and punishing production, there aren’t many flaws to find here. My biggest complain would be that there’s nothing new under the red-burning sun, coming a bit predictable. Of Kreator’s 21st Century output, I’d say Violent Revolution is the album sharing more similarities with this one, boasting memorable melodies intertwined with outbursts of sheer thrashiness. Not much of a flaw I’d say, as both albums contain enormous amounts of raw energy and passion, though PA is less catchy, and shorter.
So, the songs. Well, it’s a tradition for Kreator to have an ass-kicking title-track, and “Phantom Antichrist” is no exception. To be honest, it’s not as amazing as the past three albums titular tunes, but it will break your neck just the same. Ventor’s double bass pummeling is brutal on that one. Other personal favorites, since I don’t find any particular weak track here, are “Death to the World”, “Victory Will Come” and “From Flood into Fire”, which has a somehow unusual epic feel, somehow power-metallish, but it works pretty good, and will surely sound great during a gig. Actually, that veil of glory permeates many of the album’s songs, especially during the choruses, and it’s the only thing I can pinpoint that’s marginally different in this album to the rest of Kreator’s repertoire. Aside from than, many sections of each song here recalls past works of this veterans, their performance being impeccable as usual. Great classy leads, interesting rhythmic assaults, and of course, Mille’s instantly recognizable vocals… the magic is still here.
While not a top-shelf masterpiece the likes of Pleasure to Kill or the flawless Coma of Souls, Phantom Antichrist is another deeply carved K-shaped cut on the band’s demon-mascot forehead, another reason to respect, enjoy and love this legendary band, who have been thrashing around for a good 27 years now. It firmly states that a veteran act can stay relevant, true and outstanding, no matter what. Yeah, it feels good to lay lavishing praise upon your heroes, especially when they really deserve it.