German band from the middle generation between speed metal and the death metal to come, notable for inventive riffcraft and high energy.
flag of Germany Kreator - Coma of Souls (1990)
Kreator - Pleasure to Kill (1986)
Kreator - Extreme Aggression (1989)
Kreator - Enemy of God (2005)
Coma of Souls
Production: This producer understands metal more than most, but fails to achieve the loudness or separation of instruments that would have made this album sound best.

Review: Interestingly, both speed metal of the Metallica type and proto-death/black metal of the Hellhammer type exploded onto the world at the cusp of the mid-1980s, with two types diverging violently across continents. The American speed metal kept the cleaner vocals of heavy metal, and used deviation from verse/chorus patterns to introduce those same; the Europeans grasped the whisper distortion of the new vocals and used those instead of the riot shout preferred across the ocean, and wrote songs which wandered from verse/chorus in order to make a different type of impression on the listener. In Kreator, we can hear the best of the European style but also see the limitations of speed metal in that its trademark muffled strum produces abrupt stopping points and thus limits how far the band can vary from its verse/chorus motif. The result manifests itself in songs that show a great deal of ingenuity, especially on a fully matured example of speed metal such as this album, but by still depending on some fairly blockhead devices of rhythm and pattern, fall short of the more exciting continuity of style seen a few years later in mature death and black metal.


1. When The Sun Burns Red
2. Coma of Souls
3. People of the Lie
4. World Beyond 02:03
5. Terror Zone 05:57
6. Agents of Brutality
7. Material World Paranoia
8. Twisted Urges
9. Hidden Dictator
10. Mental Slavery
Length: 44:45

Kreator Coma of Souls 1990 Noise
Copyright © 1990 Noise

The chant-pace cadences of this album wear thin after a few songs, and the tendency of the band to fall into unison around a foot-stomping, strum-throbbing pattern causes many of us listeners to pass out in boredom. Where the Americans, by virtue of concentration of theme, fit all that they do into a narrow band of melodic phrase and accompanying harmonies, Kreator are caught between becoming riff salad through their divergence and reiterating a theme too exactly. Rhythm guitars are imaginative and adroit, skipping between chords and lead tremolo picking that creatively uses texture to imply changes in tempo; much as later Sepultura used different chord shapes to alter mood abruptly before seguing between phrases, Kreator like Sodom before them underscore much of their songwriting with alternate chord harmony, giving this a depth that their earlier works lacked. Their sense of pace is admirable as well; songs drop in from ambiguous tempo and pick up a thrust before it is explicitly framed in the action of the drums, which gives this an artistry unexpected by most.

Moreso than earlier albums, an influence of the great British heavy metal bands, especially Iron Maiden, is evident in a tendency to taper melodies into arpeggio and fade out in fractional rhythm. From many such contrasting elements, this album forms a single voice that influenced many, even if as a listening experience it remains too solidly rooted in speed metal to be stimulating past 1990 or so. This is exacerbated by some of the lyrics that, rebellious in the 1980s, became dogma of the dominant political parties in the 1990s; great bands learn first how to make an influential aesthetic, later how to write the underpinning structure of song, and finally, still further along time's curve, how to express not only in words but in philosophical concept what they desire. Despite these rough edges, this album trades the raw youthful spirit of their earlier works for a maturity of musicality that influenced countless bands of the coming generation ("Terrorzone" which borrows from Iron Maiden and the triumphant iteration of major theme in solo on "Coma of Souls" was borrowed in turn by Therion on "The Way"). While those bands have in turn surpassed Kreator in styling and songwriting, "Coma of Souls" is as much a part of the heritage of metal as monkeys are to humans.

Kreator - Pleasure to Kill
1. Choir Of The Damned
2. Rippin' Corpse
3. Death Is Our Saviour
4. Pleasure To Kill
5. Riot Of Violence
6. The Pestilence
7. Carrion
8. Command Of The Blade
9. Under The Guillotine
10. Flag Of Hate
11. Take Their Lives
12. Awakening Of The Gods
Length: 56:35
Pleasure to Kill (Noise, 1986)
This album aims for the grey area between speed and death metal which preserves the high tempo of speed metal and adds to it the gracefully tubular riffs of whipstrummed chords that are the hallmark of the phrasal style of death metal. While it surpasses the speed metal efforts in this area, it does not manage the enigmatic, NWOBHM-style choruses of Slayer so much as it creates a unison riot shout, and while it achieves greater intensity than speed metal, it is restrained by its tendency to go breakneck tempo until a conclusion is needed. At this point, the Kreator modus operandi becomes one of clamping down with a hard stop, possibly a muffled strum, trading momentum for an older, chugging style of heavy metal. Interestingly, the cascade of progressively offbeat syllables of vocal lines are more complex than those of their American counterparts, but gain a jaunty, almost hip-hop influenced vibrancy. What this band excels in on this album are songs that set up leverage between patterns of alternating texture and then in the quintessential metal style reduce the music to a thematic statement that powerfully distills difference and similarity into a world-spanning conclusion. In this the elegance of heavy metal meets the raw aggression of speed and death, titrating an elan for life that is not restrained by the ugly or mortal, but overflows with a resurgent energy like the return of spring. Despite this, Kreator's great weakness remains too much symmetry between some of the less essential riffs, creating a listening experience that sometimes resembles being rocked between alternate sides of a Jeep rambling over a rocky desert trail. For those who enjoy the hybrid, high-intensity style of Kreator, this album and "Extreme Aggression" remain the apex of this band's output.
Kreator - Extreme Aggression
1. Extreme Aggression
2. No Reason To Exist
3. Love Us Or Hate Us
4. Stream Of Consciousness
5. Betrayer
6. Don't Trust
7. Bringer Of Torture
8. Fatal Energy
Length: 37:28
Extreme Aggression (Noise, 1989)
The raw spirit of this album shines through in its energy and willingness to, without fear of being obvious as a more mature artist might experience, put into music the gulf between what is desired and what is perceived. It is not a subtle album. Its great failing is a tendency to use initiating phrases and verses that are composed of complementary phrases which through harmonic simplicity, create a symmetry of foray and response that is so limited in musical potential as to reduce itself to essential rhythm and thus become obvious and worse, tedious. These binary motifs make this album a headache of the overly blunt and spaceless as well as inventive riffing that has become an essential part of the genre since. There are momentary insights in riff and lyrics - such as the archetypal moment when morality is construed as the opposition to imagination - but the repetition factor, and the strikingly obvious construction of many of these riffs, may relegate it to the past. While this may be so, of all the Kreator albums it approaches the death metal ideal most clearly, with tremolo strumming inflecting a texture to these riffs that enables the construction of simple memes of unprecedented viciousness. In terms of raw riffcraft, it may be the height of Kreator's acumen, which is underscored by the tendency to break tempo to state patterns clearly. Of note is the dual guitar attack of the type in which one guitar renders columnar progressions in the background with slow pace of change and fast strumming, while the other engraves a lead melody above. This is aided by drumming which uses fewer breaks than most Kreator work, allowing a continuity of sound that lacks time to slow down for too many rigid phrasal end emphases. While there are many moments of incandescent beauty in the same use of that word to describe rugged but functional landscapes, a number of clumsy and overly-emotive, thus overly obvious, motifs adulterate some of the stellar riffing and contribute what may be perceived as toneless rhythm playing around the core of inspired guitarwork. While this may relegate this album to historical interest, its influence can be felt even today in the evolving metal genre.
Kreator - Enemy of God
1. Enemy Of God
2. Impossible Brutality
3. Suicide Terrorist
4. World Anarchy
5. Dystopia
6. Voices Of The Dead
7. Murder Fantasies
8. When Death Takes Its Dominion
9. One Evil Comes (A Million Follow)
10. Dying Race Apocalypse
11. Under A Total Blackened Sky
12. The Ancient Plague Length: 55:48
Enemy of God (Steamhammer, 2005)
This album, like Sepultura's "Chaos A.D." on which it was surely modeled, represents the worst of metal: like rock music it aims for a consistent energy and emotion that absolves the audience of any necessity of thinking as a ranting voice tells them what they should perceive. It's art that tells you what it is, instead of shows you, and like the labels "good" and "evil," it is thus as deceptive. Constant strumming at roughly the same tempo between songs pulses in unbroken harangues, and verses are almost completely flat introductions to the foot-stomping, hand-pumping chorus. But this constant intensity has a price, which is that anything of a high volume, when repeated, loses its effect. By the halfway point in this album, one is bored into tears as screaming speed metal roars around them. None of it is badly done, but on the whole, it is horribly done, in that it supplants artistry with a kind of constant ranting that like Communist propaganda rings hollow after the first moments. In this, it brings out the worst of not only metal but rock music and modern society as a whole, confusing appearance with reality by assuming that angry music can convey an understanding of that anger. All of Kreator's riffcraft is intact and they seem more confident as musicians than ever before, but as was once said in computing, "Garbage In, Garbage Out" - an album with misbegotten conception will turn into garbage no matter how well it is played, much as a bad car design will break down constantly no matter how talented the craftsmen who put it together. Interestingly, like "Chaos A.D.," this album shows us the ingredients of metal's decay: a rock music approach, more punk styled riffing, and the MTV-friendly pattern of verse and chorus interrupted by "soft parts" so they can return, poignantly, we assume. One hint for the unwary: the words "I hate" appear more on this album than any affirmation of greatness lurking even in a soiled world, something that even the most morbid death and black metal albums asserted; this CD is just angry complaining designed for an uncritical audience.
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