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Gone...Thrashin'...? - 48%

Empyreal, February 18th, 2009

Son of a bitch. Well, my Gone Thrashin' series is now over, and I am stuck here staring down the barrel of a steaming load of festering, ugly bullshit called Hordes of Chaos. Yes, it is Kreator's new album, and I am sad to say that I don't like it much at all, especially after how good Enemy of God was. I'm no Kreator aficionado, so I won't make any comparisons to the rest of their work, but seriously, how the fuck do you go from Enemy of God to this? That album was everything a modern Thrash album should be, with heavy, crunchy and melodic guitar work and a clear sense of direction, accompanied by absolutely fantastic vocals from vocalist Mille Petroza, all layered over with a heavy dose of balls-out aggression. It wasn't any sort of modern classic, but when I heard about this, I was hoping the band would expand on it and make something even cooler.

Well, they didn't do that. What is so bad about this album, exactly? Well, let me explain. Hordes of Chaos sounds like the music of a bunch of old men trying to desperately recapture the glory days of the 80s with modern equipment in a world that has moved away from that old sound.

What? What do you mean that's what it is?

Oh, ahem. Well, then. I think the main problem with this is just as I said; it sounds like the band is trying too hard to recapture the old days of the 1980s, where they were a sloppy, primal band of heathens, hellions and maniacs out to bash everyone's skulls in with riffs. However, like the one-time headbangers that have grown up, put on suits and raised families, Kreator is not the same band that they were back then. Their influences have changed and their sound has changed, too, and what's the problem with that? Well, apparently there was some problem with that when Mille and co. were writing this album, because this reeks of a bad "back to the roots" attempt more than my kitchen reeked of peppermint muscle rubbing cream fifteen minutes ago.

The production is sort of hollow and tinny, very "dirty" sounding, and I'll eat my hat if that wasn't intentional. This isn't old school, you guys, this is just bad. It sounds more grimy and putrid than it does gritty and raw, which is the problem most bands have when they try to do this. The songwriting is sloppy, too, with little regard for the coherent and calculated evil that their last album exonerated in spades. The riffs are just sort of chucked out in this rapid, old school Thrash-esque way, except here it doesn't work like it did on Pleasure to Kill, because the band is trying too hard to sound angry. Back then it sounded natural, like they just sort of bashed it out when they were pissed, but here it's different. Here they are trying consciously to sound old school, forcing it down our throats and over-doing everything in an attempt to sound like they're bringing back that old sound. The old school Thrash bands didn't succeed by doing this, you guys! You know, just letting you in on this most sacred of secrets.

It was...more genuine back then. Not that I think the band is being dishonest now, but they are definitely trying to prove something here, and it gives Hordes of Chaos a very displeasing feel - Thrash is supposed to be headstrong and arrogant, in-your-face and aggressive. This sounds desperate and weak, especially when coupled with Mille Petroza's juvenile vocal delivery. He doesn't sound horrible, just sort of inoffensive, and the manic, strained way in which he's singing is not the method of a man who has been at the mic for twenty five years. No, this is the voice of a doe-eyed teen in his first "heavy" band, shouting at the top of his lungs and trying to get the listener's attention not by using subtlety and simple talents, but by over-emotiong to the point where you're just embarrassed for him. He's trying too hard. Just listen to that God-awful "Everyone against everyone" bit in the title track, or pretty much the entire duration of "Radical Resistance" ("People from the EAST! People from the WEST!"...shut up already!).

It's really a shame, because it isn't like the material here is flat out bad. Most of these tracks are pretty decent, just unmemorable and half-baked. They'd be kind of fun to headbang or mosh along to live, I imagine. Maybe that's all they were intended to do in the first place. But as I listen to this, I have a hard time really sympathizing with it. "Warcurse" has one of the shittiest main riffs I've ever heard out of a big Thrash band, and "To the After Burn" starts out great, but then the band decides they don't like being cool, and they throw in a bunch of fucking horrible mallcore-ish parts that I just can't stand. "Destroy What Destroys You," "Escalation," "Absolute Misanthropy"...these aren't bad songs, but they seriously just go in one ear and out the other, and that's not what a Thrash song should ever do. "Demon Prince" does rule, though, so they get some points for that.

The bottom line is, Hordes of Chaos takes what sounds like a good idea and fucks it up with mediocre songwriting and half-assed thrashing that doesn't work. My advice to Kreator is that they should get their heads out of their asses and start moving forward instead of backward. The 80s have been done for going on twenty years now, and while I will never get tired of the 80s Metal ideals of pride and rebellion and the good old leather and spikes and chains, I simply cannot condone such a sloppy and poorly written album of this sort of mushy, featureless, annoying gunk. Kreator don't have anything to prove, so what the fuck, guys? Where's the fire? Hordes of Chaos is weak, half-baked and even surprisingly boring, and you might as well just skip it.