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Kreator-Hordes of Chaos - 85%

SymphonyXFan, September 16th, 2010

Kreator is one of the most well known German bands, apart from their hard rock counterparts, the Scorpions. They play a blend of classic and melodic thrash, and with this new album, a lot has changed without having been changed (I know, it doesn’t make sense now, but let me finish). Hordes of Chaos, their newest album, explores formerly uncharted territory for the thrash masters, but it is not a perfect album by far, as it does have several non-fatal but undercutting errors.

First off, Hordes of Chaos is filled to the brim with melody. Whether it be in the format of a dual guitar lead (Escalation, Hordes of Chaos), a clean vocal passage (Amok Run, To The Afterborn), or just a melodic break (Warcurse, Corpses of Liberty), Kreator manages to inject what some may see as melodic death metal influences into their vein of thrash. The most obvious example of this is the chorus of To The Afterborn. Mike Petrozza sings, albeit in a gravely, raspy tone, overtop of harmonious riffing and pounding double kick drums, not unlike the title track of Seasons In The Abyss. Corpses of Liberty, a melodic interlude, involves clean guitar and no vocals. Another fine point is the soloing, which is very melodic in nature. The sweep picking in Absolute Misanthropy is the perfect example.

Another upside to this album is the abundance of double bass by drummer Jürgen Reil. Warcurse, the thrashiest song on the album, begins and shows off his talent immediately with a galloping double bass/toms fill that is both speedy and brutal. Songs such as Escalation, To The Afterborn, and Demon Prince contain portions of rapid double bass that rival those on Enemy of God and Coma of Souls, but nothing beats the post-chorus of Absolute Misanthropy, where Reil drops a double bass blast that shatters anything else on the album. The main difference between Enemy of God and Hordes of Chaos is that the drumming on Hordes of Chaos is much better and more technical than that of Enemy of God. I give him props for stepping up his game.

Petrozza seems like he is immortal; his voice doesn’t age like certain thrash singers have *coughJamesHetfieldcough*. An angry tone is embedded deep in his vocals, and he shouts his lyrics with passion, again, unlike other unnamed thrashers (not to point at anyone, Tom Araya). One of the best examples of this is in the title track, where he screams, “HORDES OF CHAOS! EVERYONE AGAINST EVERYONE, CHAOS!” If the listener can resist shouting along with those lyrics, then they need some psychoevaluation. Oddly enough, Petrozza does a bit of singing in this album, most notably on the song To The Afterborn, but also in the beginning of Amok Run. His voice is not entirely clean (it has a very harsh tone to it, but he is singing), but it fits well into the song.

However, there are 2 main places where the flaws of this album are very pronounced. First up on the chopping block is the production. Kreator recorded this album via a process called “live in studio”, where they all played at the same time and were recorded at the same time, rather than the typical way of recording each instrument one at a time. While this does give the album a completely different atmosphere than a regularly produced studio album, there are parts that undercut it, such as the kick drum sound. It is very thin and clicky sounding, not unlike a pencil rapping against a desk. Another complaint I have is that one of the guitars, rather than have a crunchy, distorted tone to it, has a fuzzy, grating tone to it. This gets a little annoying after a while.

The final complaint I have is about every metalheads favorite part of an album (uh, should that be least favorite?): filler. Yes, this album does have an abundance of good songs, but unfortunately, it has its fair share of filler as well. Amok Run was a good concept, but in practice, it didn’t turn out so well, making the song nearly unlistenable with the lack of a catchy chorus like those in Hordes of Chaos or Warcurse. Furthermore, songs like Destroy What Destroys You, Radical Resistance (the chorus of this song is so dull, I have to click the forward button on my iPod every time) and some parts of Demon Prince don’t have enough material to keep the listener interested. Sorry, Kreator, try harder on that front the next time you put out an album.

All in all, this is a good album. The choruses to most of the songs are very catchy, there are plenty of hooks, and it retains the spirit of classic thrash that seems to be so absent on many new releases today. If you can look past the flaws, then this will be a very interesting listen for the average thrash fan. CHAOS!