Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Melodic, considered, catchy - 79%

gasmask_colostomy, July 6th, 2017

I remember getting this album quite a while ago, not long after it came out, and looking through the reviews for it on Amazon. It was just before I started reviewing on this website, but even then I remember thinking that it was bizarre to have around 15 five star reviews for a good though not sensational release, alongside absolutely zero negative or mixed ratings. Granted, I guess it would be mostly excited fans who were tempted to post their feelings on Amazon, though I felt that it was necessary for me to add a note of moderation and gave it a more cautious four star rating.

The funny thing is that now I can totally understand why so many people freaked out and praised the ass off Phantom Antichrist, because there are some songs here that genuinely make me go nuts as well and want to scream “Kreat-ooooooooooooorrrrr!!!” like Mille Petrozza from the bus stop or out the window of my apartment. However, there are also moments when I am underwhelmed by the experience and would probably sit down on the bus stop bench or close my window due to a sudden loss of energy. There are a lot of arguments in a song like 'Civilization Collapse' or 'Death to the World' about why metal is such a potent force and complete trap for its disciples: Kreator have always done a fine vein in raging fury and rollicking speed, not to mention some wicked riffing that wouldn't be out of place soundtracking heavy duty farm equipment, such is the power and brute force with which it arrives. This isn't a claim about thrash metal in general, since I'm not always too fond of our Slayers and Exoduses, but the momentum that these guys get into when they play their way through the fast numbers is irresistible, never allowing the listener to stay still as 'Phantom Antichrist' blasts into action and smashes through its first chorus without halting - the superb title track is exactly what I'm talking about.

What marked a lot of those Amazon reviews that I saw back in 2012 (barring blind excitement) was the use of the phrase "more melodic", which reflects the tendency of Kreator to play guitars with a lighter touch at times in the last 10 years, as well as some slower and more considered sections that would have been unthinkable in the '80s. I don't have any issue with the band offering melodic juice to the parched wasteland of riffs and beats, though I think no one would deny that Petrozza and his gang have always been at their best when laying down the law in vicious style. Aside from the "more melodic, more considered" comment, it is also noticeable that this album has riffs on songs such as 'From Flood into Fire' and 'The Few, the Proud, the Broken' that are quite bouncy and groovy compared to the normal expectations of German thrash, leading a few to point the commercial finger at this album. I think that the style at these moments is certainly catchier and more accessible than one may have expected, though it doesn't differ too far from the formula that Sodom or Testament adopted in the new millennium, sacrificing a few knots of pace for greater memorability. What disappoints ever so slightly about the ploy is that the accessible elements are not completely integrated into the general listen, standing out quite clearly by the pace of those two mentioned tracks and the deliberate return to the main riffs, although there are melodic tricks used to make 'Victory Will Come' and 'United in Hate' (not as hateful as one might hope) stick in the mind for longer.

There are several moments as well when the Germans seem to come to a forking of the paths, when they could decide to put their feet to the floor and power onwards into a more intense verse yet actually hold back and take things down a notch. Many of these instances occur after the second chorus (the structures are slightly predictable), as often as not allowing the solo or bridge to provide a rest in the action, such as the end of hostilities in the delicate lead of 'Death to the World', which feels like a copout compared to the great main riff that surges forwards on the back of the other two choruses. The only time when the band really go nuts in the bridge is on the title track, the "Terror from the left, terror from the right" segment of which has entered my mind at inopportune moments during the last five years, usually when I'm very excited indeed.

As such, I'm slightly disappointed that an album with such a promising title and cover didn't yield more savage results, though the moments that really hit are not to be sniffed at. I have a personal problem, however, as far as 'Your Heaven, My Hell' is concerned, since the clean opening doesn't suit the band very well, nor do the riffs offer anything attractive. The issue with softer verses returns with the closing 'Until Our Paths Cross Again', though I must say they are better done and have better backing, as well as a splash of genuine atmosphere. Having just nine complete songs was a good idea, certainly when compared to the recent Gods of Violence, which overdosed rather on length, whereas this is satisfying rather than bloated, totalling a moderate 45 minutes. Overall, Phantom Antichrist is nothing to be sniffed at unless you detest the idea of ruthless speed and well-worked melodic lead playing sitting side by side with a few gentler (though still metal) bits and pieces. This phantom is still very much alive and kicking.