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Fast times in the last times - 80%

autothrall, September 19th, 2012

Even just looking at the cover of their sophomore album, the Germans seem to have cast aside the Satanic security blanket to provide more of an enigma into the nature of the music and lyrics on Endzeit Metropolis. What mysteries will this dark, doomed city and its ebon domes hold for the listener? The image is simple, to be sure, and perhaps strange in tandem with such a violent and demonic band as Ketzer ('Heretic'), but it's immediately interesting, where another devilish slave master or grim reaper would likely have prompted only that 'this again?' reaction that I sadly and jadedly take on a large number of blackened works in the 21st century. Fortunately, the creativity also extends into the lyrics, and to some extent, the music.

Digging below the surface, the album is quite close to its predecessor in style, blackened thrash and speed metal aesthetically redolent to Teutonic forebears Desaster, but the band has actually stretched its wings out a bit and interspersed additional passages of atmospheric variance into the bevy of bedrock, sinister riffs that dominated Satan's Boundaries Unchained. The guitar tone is more potent than on the debut, and the vocals mixed to it a bit more closely in volume, so it lacks a fraction of that record's echoing misanthropy, but feels more abrupt and straight to the listener's face, especially those lower paced rhythm guitar grooves that hail from the school of Bathory, Hellhammer and Darkthrone. There is more an emphasis on the mid-paced, textured and swaggering tempos dowsed in harmonies that made up about half of the first album, and the band even stretch out into a more 'tender' territory, like the guitar driven, melodic interlude "Farewell, Fade Away" or the understated acoustics that inaugurate the closing epic "He Who Stands Behind the Rows".

There is certainly a maturation here, but not so much in the actual metal riffing as there is in the lyrics, which are pretty damned interesting paeans to the fragility of existence, almost poetic introspection as the band speaks of its last minutes before Armageddon, spent in a passionate revelry. Completely unexpected, and far beyond what you're usually exposed to on a record of this sort. I also felt that the riffs were more naturally dynamic, with each individual composition expressing some nuance, not to mention that the tremolo guitar patterns and beefier rhythm tracks saunter off into more unpredictable configurations. Not to the point that it feels 'progressive', per se, just better conceived and more interesting, especially in cuts like "Aesthetics and Ecstasy" or "The Fever's Tide". Some degree of cruelty and sadism has been traded off here, and it's not quite so fiery and sinister as the debut, but I'd have to say, in the end, even if it's not perfect, that I enjoyed this more than its precursor. Only by a small margin, though. Not just for fans of blackened thrash or speed this time out; Endzeit Metropolis should also hold some appeal to fans of melodic Swedish black metal circa the mid to late 90s. Whether your poison runs from Desaster or Dissection, this is well worth a listen.


One New City You Won't Regret Visiting - 87%

thrashtidote, September 9th, 2012

Germany's Ketzer carved a deep hole into the old school metal underground with their 2007 debut, ''Satan's Boundaries Unchained'', a frenetic, percussive blackened thrash assault that no doubt gouged its way through countless of generic gimmicks rehashing the genre, and I was more than content to see that after four years the band finally bestirred a violent mesh of black and thrash, though there was one hindrance that surprised me. Bewildered and dazzled my the immense tiding I received, I could apprehend the thought of the band delivering something relatively different sound. The band indeed makes some changes in their bestial sound that was redolent of Destroyer 666, Desaster, Impaled Nazarene, Nocturnal Graves, Usurper, Aura Noir and the like, though they make these certain changes without inaugurating a whole new formula, but still, I should inform you that the band's tendencies have now evacuated the wholly demented aura that they had embraced and clasped on the previous record, omitting a certain measure of the primal, destructive aesthetics and churning the remainders of the corpulent bestiality with a healthy boast of semi-melodic black metal, in the very vein of Dissection, Sacramentum, Watain.

I myself had problems facing the more sophisticated material the band gouged out because I certainly did not see it coming, but giving the album more than a few spins helps a lot. Admittedly I would have preferred the wild, frantic and blast beta-oriented sound of Ketzer, because that was certainly what they excelled in, but then again, I'm still not sure if they could spurt out evil black/speed/thrashing mayhem on par with the previous release, and thus, I've come to enjoy their newly forged sound almost as much as their previous, primal material, therefore leading me the unavoidable question; can this band top what they've done before if they continue to pursue relentless perfection with their newly acquainted style? We will have time to ponder the question as the band is still fresh out of the oven, with heaps of unmolested attention waiting to be embroidered and released but for now, I think it's best that I get to the main point. Attaining a more melodic and sophisticated sound may put off a some of the band's early audience, but no way are Ketzer loosing the efficiency that they had. ''Endzeit Metropolis'' is just as lively and somewhat diverse, and in addition they mix it with the residue of the detracted sound of the debut, forming a vicious, flesh-ripping assault with voluptuous, almost lamenting inclinations. With a richer and more mature-sounding bar set for the band, Ketzer envelops the listener in atmospheric and catchy percussion in a less truculent matter, delivering a mighty fine brand of black/thrash.

''Endzeit Metropolis'' is also entertaining because it doesn't deliberately lean towards repetition and certain songs like ''He Who Stands Before The Row'' offers majestic quadrants of ebbing, desolate black metal tides and attains a much more creative and drowning sound than you can imagine. The near-two-minute distorted complex of ''Farewell'' is also amazing, albeit not so lengthy, a chthonic emission that is both astute and brazen, and ephemeral paean of mourning and isolation. However deep the lamenting gash is, the album somehow does nor fail to inject a subtle vigor into the music, and tracks which are energetically driven from the start are overflowing with melodious dynamics. Tracks like ''Collector Of Worlds'' or ''The Fever's Tide'' are some of the most aggressive and alluring black/thrash incursions you'll met with, songs that have well mastered the band's newly blossoming art together with the earlier aesthetics. All in all, ''Endezeit Metropolis'' is another win for Ketzer, and these German's are well on they're way to black/thrashing brilliance.

Collector Of Worlds
The Fever's Tide
A Requiem For Beauty

Rating: 87%

The Endtimes are Here - 93%

Memnarch, March 31st, 2012

This has certainly got to rank up there with one of my most anticipated albums of 2012. Endzeit Metropolis, the follow up to German thrashers Ketzer’s debut album Satan’s Boundaries Unchained finally gets released on Iron Bonehead. They came to my attention a few years back when I heard their name casually mentioned in the same breath as genre front runners Destroyer 666 and Desaster, so naturally I had to go and uncover what all the fuss was about. And when a name is thrown around like that in the same circle as legends such as those, you can only be on to a winner.

2012 really hasn’t been a bad year so far for proper thrash, we’ve had Nekromantheon, Desaster and Aura Noir all having released albums already, and now we have Ketzer with an album which unquestionably cements their status right up there with the best of them. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking this was a new Destroyer 666 album if you didn’t know any better as Endzeit Metropolis harbours that same epic saw toothed ferocity their peers from down under are so effective at.

There’s no respite from what can only be described as an infernal firestorm of ripping guitar work and lacerating vocals that’ll pin you to the wall and leave you beaten, broken and bruised. When I say these guys can shred with the best of them, I really mean it. Take tracks like “A Requiem for Beauty” and its classic Destruction-esque surge or “Aesthetics and Ecstasy” and its neck snapping rhythm, ruthless riffing and Infernal Destroyer’s cruel rasp, they’re a black thrash aficionado’s wet dream.

“He Who Stands Behind the Rows” is the real blackened gem of Endzeit Metropolis though, a monolithic display of this bands talent is showcased here as it approaches the ten minute mark; one of those tracks which could easily go toe to toe with those such as “Trialed by Fire” and “Teutonic Steel” , it contains the same underlying epic feel that’ll tear your face to ribbons and then stamp on it for good measure. The only time to catch your breath whatsoever is in the short instrumental which splits the album in two, a brief minute and a half before you’re tossed headlong back into the melee.

The guitar tone is sharp and metallic and sounds as if it was tempered in the fires of hell itself. The riffing is top notch and never sounds familiar or rehashed, and the solos scorchingly intricate. Desecrator’s drumming similarly brilliant, a perfect mix of precision and power. The vocals of Infernal Desecrator could be likened to those of the legendary Tom Angelripper, a sneering and bloodied throaty rasp, all coming together to paint scenes of a somewhat dystopic and collapsing cityscape under siege by hell’s legions themselves.

Any other year this would have had no competition at all as my favourite thrash release, Ketzer’s only problem in this regard is that Desaster just happened to release an even better album already this year. Bearing in mind we’re only three months into 2012 its already shaping up to be a great year for vicious, old school thrash. Could decent thrash actually be threatening a comeback in place of the now fading ‘thrash revival’? I certainly hope so. Endzeit Metropolis is bursting with so much raw aggression and the musicianship it’s unreal, pretty much essential listening for any self respecting fan of this style of thrash.