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Kreating Melodic Mayhem - 82%

Peacesells215, August 6th, 2014

2012 was obviously a strong year for thrash. Along with Kreator's Phantom Antichrist, Overkill released the ever impressive "The Electric Age" and Testament released their seminal return to the glory days with "Dark Roots of Earth." However, only one album out of the three fully encompasses the band's past sound while still looking to the future by adding different elements to their albums. Kreator has always had hints of melody even for a few brief moments in their albums ever since "Pleasure to Kill" ("Riot of Violence," and "Command of the Blade" will serve as examples for the review). So the melody on Phantom Antichrist shouldn't be a surprise to anyone as it was hinted during "Violent Revolution," "Enemy of God," and attempted yet again in "Hordes of Chaos." The fact that Jens Borgen (producer and engineer) has worked with several Swedish death metal bands including Amon Amarth, it is no surprise that Kreator's thirteenth album holds such a strong resemblance to that of our Swedish metal brethren. This might be a major setback for possible fans that demand Kreator release Pleasure to Kill II. However, Phantom Antichrist still manages to hold as much thrash as the band did in the early 2000s. The sound may be different, production incredibly clear, and the riffs melodic, but it is still the pioneering Teutonic thrash titan most of us have come to love and respect.

Mille and Sami put on the greatest show since Sami's debut "Violent Revolution." With interesting leads and exchanges these two really give the listener's senses a lot to cover and keep up with. Some tracks like "Victory Will Come," "The Few the Proud the Broken," and "Death to the World" all feature catchy intros that automatically grabbed my attention. Vocally Mille does a great job to erase the underwhelming performance on "Hordes Of Chaos" and he still retains enough venom in his vocal delivery to kill three men...twice. However, when compared to say "Enemy of God" or "Violent Revolution" it’s obviously less bearable than the newer classic albums by the band. Ventor is a mad man on the kit as we all know. He is incredibly consistent and punishes his snare demanding ever present attention. Giesler is hardly ever heard on Phantom Antichrist. However, this is understandable as Mille and Sami's guitar work overpowers almost anything other than Ventor's ever physical drum work. The production is crystal clear especially for a metal band such as Kreator. Take that how you may, some love great production (especially fans of melodic metal) and some fans of thrash hate great production. Whatever your personal preference the production places the guitar work at front and center stage over anything else.

For all the positives, Phantom Antichrist has a few flaws that keep this from being the greatest return to form thrash album that has ever emerged. First, repetitiveness runs high in this thirteenth release. Some riffs feel recycled, especially from the band's past (Example: 2:25 on "From Flood Into Fire" the underlying riff sounds eerily similar to the underlying riff used in "Terror Zone" at the 3:55 mark.) Mille's voice does deteriorate on the album almost as if he was getting tired towards the end of the record. Yet another possible flaw is the lyrical themes and their delivery. In some instances the metal clichés run high on tracks like gang shouts with senseless choruses, the softly spoken poetry in "From Flood Into Fire," or the annoying young teen angst that can be felt on some of the tracks like "From Flood Into Fire," and "United in Hate."

Overall, Phantom Antichrist is strong. It isn't a total waste of an album as others say. Each individual track has its own strength and weakness. Kreator is still going strong after 30 years. How many other metal bands can create an album that contains an epic sense of melody, strength of powerful riffs, the insanity of thrash, blend them together, and produce a different and varied album while still throwing back to the days of old? Not too many folks. Cheers to Kreator for 30 years strong and for many more to grow on.