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Great songs, but the sound... - 87%

Agonymph, January 20th, 2009

'Enemy Of God' was by far the best Kreator release in a decade and a half. The departure of Tommy Vetterli and the arrival of Sami Yli-Sirniƶ saw Kreator take a slight return to their Thrash roots and mix that up with a touch of melodic Death Metal on 'Violent Revolution', an album with great songs and a to sterile production. 'Enemy Of God' sounded much more vicious and was an even better collection of songs as well. To some extent, 'Hordes Of Chaos' can be seen as a combination of both of the songwriting quality of the latter and the sound complaints of the former.

Kreator took a different approach to 'Hordes Of Chaos'. They brought in a new producer (Moses Schneider instead of Andy Sneap) and decided to record all the basic tracks (drums, bass and rhythm guitars) live in the studio. I'm not sure if this approach actually worked, because especially the guitar sound on the album ruined my listening pleasure at first instance. One of the guitars has such a muffled and muddy sound, that some of the fast parts don't have the power they're supposed to have. A rhythm guitar in Metal is supposed to sound crunchy, it's not supposed to sound like you're strumming a clothesline with your penis. Okay, that may be a tad extreme, but I'm sure Kreator should be able to get a better guitar sound, as they had on this album's predecessor.

Having gotten past this complaint, I do have to admit that this album shows a progressing Kreator. The songs are unmistakably Kreator, but they seem to have mixed the 'Enemy Of God'-sound with some NWOBHM-touches, which gives the album a surprising twist every now and then. For a second, I'd swear I was listening to 'The Hellion' by Judas Priest, but it was really the intro to 'Demon Prince'. And the structures and dramatic climaxes of several songs - 'To The Afterborn' somehow springs to mind right away - are quite reminiscent of the NWOBHM-heyday.

A definite highlight for me is 'Amok Run'. The song starts out tranquil, almost balladesque - with Mille Petrozza's deep, clean voice creating a goosebumps atmosphere - and builds towards a Metal epic with blazing riffs and solos like they haven't done for what seems like ages. I also think Mille's vocals sound best on this particular song.

Surprising is 'Absolute Misanthropy'. The song has a structure and a handful of riffs rather atypical for the Germans and any variation is of course always welcome on a Thrash Metal, since the genre has - despite being the most beautiful kind of music ever created - the risk of becoming a bit monotonous. Kreator has probably foreseen this risk and has put the songs which are a little different at strategic positions on the album.

Rounding out and highlighting the album is the sort of a trilogy consisting of 'To The Afterborn', the short instrumental 'Corpse Of Liberty' and the massive 'Demon Prince'. As I've said before 'To The Afterborn' is probably the prime example of why I think this band has been listening to a lot of NWOBHM while writing this album. The song builds up in strongly dramatic way and is decorated by a surprisingly clean and catchy chorus and a majestic solo by Sami Yli-Sirniƶ. In addition, I hardly ever heard a Kreator song that relies on twin guitars as much as this one. They sound a bit weird though, as one of the parts was recorded in the "live backing" session and one was overdubbed later with the guitar solos. But that's only a minor complaint.

'Demon Prince' starts out with eighties Metal euphoria. I really can't describe that mighty twin guitar intro any different, you'll have to hear for yourself to believe. The song builds up to be a Thrashfest like only Kreator can record, but once again the NWOBHM-climaxes shine through, especially during the chorus. Mille delivers a chaotic, screaming guitar solo and Sami a slightly more structured, melodic solo. Very impressive. Almost as impressive as 'The Ancient Plague', which closed 'Enemy Of God'. To my ears, that song was the ideal soundtrack to the end of the world and I once jokingly said Kreator should have called it quits after that song. I'm glad they didn't. This is Metal and this is why I like the genre.

Other songs - like the opening title track and the following 'War Curse' - are rather typical Kreator songs, which is of course a good thing. The melodic intro to the title track may throw you off the first time, but it builds up to be a cool Thrasher. And, in good Kreator-fashion, the riffs are all over the place here.

Lyrically, this album is once again nothing special. I find Mille's "I hate you"-lyrics a bit childish ('Enemy Of God' had 'Murder Fantasies', this album has 'Absolute Misanthropy') and not one song is a poetic masterpiece, but that hardly is disturbing. I don't think many people buy Kreator-albums for the lyrical brilliance. But then again; a band that honestly admits, in a CD booklet, that "AAAAARGH!" ('Demon Prince') and "GGGGGRHHHH" ('War Curse') are actually lyrics, deserves nothing but praise for that!

'Hordes Of Chaos' is a safe buy for anyone who enjoyed the recent outings of the German Thrashers and for those who don't mind a slightly more melodic Kreator. Just the guitar fetishists among you might be thrown off by the guitar sound at first. But then again, I may also be nagging in your opinion. If that is the case, just ignore anything I said about the production and go buy the damn album.