Kreator‘s talismanic frontman Mille Petrozza has gone on record to state that the 90’s were “a horrible era for bands like Kreator” and with thrash predominantly dead in the water, what was a band to do? Of course, the only option was to diversify, to adapt, and to challenge the status quo. And, as the decade drew on, that was exactly what Germany’s favourite sons did.
While the results weren’t exactly embraced by all quarters – particularly the thrash die hards! – Kreator’s 90’s output is hardly without merit. And, with BMG remastering and reissuing the majority of Kreator’s 90’s releases, it’s high time the world re-evaluated the semi-forgotten albums of one of metal’s bravest bands.
Coma Of Souls (originally released in 1990)
Bonus Tracks (Live In Fürth, Germany – 06/12/1990): When The Sun Burns Red / Betrayer / Terrible Certainty / Extreme Aggression / Coma Of Souls / People Of The Lie / Choir Of The Damned / The Pestilence / Toxic Trace / Drum Solo / Terror Zone / Pleasure To Kill / Flag Of Hate / Agents Of Brutality / Riot of Violence / Tormentor
At this stage, thrash was still a force to be reckoned with and Kreator would unleash one last tirade of terrifying teutonic thrash before succumbing to inevitable change. Fortunately, fans were treated to one of the finest thrash releases of 1990, in the formidable shape of Coma Of Souls.
Following Extreme Aggression (arguably, Kreator’s finest moment) was always going to a challenge but, in 1990, Kreator were still a rampaging thrash machine, more than capable of surpassing the majority of their peers and delivering one last hurrah in the name of bestiality!
Elements of groove and Priest/Maiden-esque melody may have seeped into the the achingly catchy “People Of The Lie” and “Terror Zone” but there’s no denying that the likes of “Twisted Urges” and the appropriately titled “Agents Of Brutality” were frenetic bursts of feral thrash.
28 years on and Coma Of Souls remains a masterclass in melodic thrash metal. 8/10
Renewal (originally released in 1992)
Bonus Tracks: Winter Martyrium (Rare Version) / Trauma / Europe After The Rain (Remix)
With a renewed sense of purpose, Kreator faced the arrival of grunge head-on….but it came at a price!
1992’s Renewal was a complete u-turn for Kreator, an industrial metal flavoured racket which all but jettisoned thrash entirely, and settled on clanking, clattering grooves and Mille Petrozza’s harsher sounding vocals.
Harsher? Yep, with Mille’s rasp reaching a pitch that should be considered hazardous to health, Kreator were now achieving heightened levels of sonic devastation. Unfortunately, Renewal‘s new noise lacked the creative spark delivered just two years prior on Coma of Souls, and fans were left confused and, ultimately, disappointed.
While time has been kind to Renewal (the punchy one-two of “Zero to None” and “Europe After the Rain” sounds better than ever), it can hardly be considered an essential Kreator release and this reissue will be aimed at Kreator completists only. 6/10
Cause For Conflict (originally released in 1995)
Bonus Tracks: Suicide In Swamps / Limits Of Liberty / State Oppression
Following the semi-confusing Renewal, Kreator’s Cause For Conflict heralded a temporary return to thrashier realms and while it hardly compares to the ferocity of Kreator’s 80’s output, it at least sounded more energetic, more rounded and, most importantly, mrore like the Kreator of old!
With Joe Cangelosi (Whiplash/Brooklyn Militia/Uncivil War) ensconced behind the kit, Kreator sounded utterly unhinged again as they rattled and roared through a bevy of industrial-tinged thrashers; seamlessly combining Mille Petrozza’s recent experiments with his thrash metal glories of the 1980’s.
An antidote to the chart-bothering sounds of nu-metal and grunge, Cause For Conflict was less conflicted than Renewal and far more confrontational. This time around, Kreator were experimenting with noise and sheer propulsive, percussive power and remains a sonic onslaught of ear-spitting volume.
There’s a strong case for Cause For Conflict being Kreator’s most underrated album and the band were undeniably thrashing hard and fast…..and with more extremity than ever! 8/10
Outcast (originally released in 1997)
Bonus Tracks (Live At Dynamo Open Air 1998): Intro : Dr. Wagner, Part 3 / Terror Zone / Lost / Leave This World Behind / Phobia / Black Sunrise / Choir Of The Damned / Pleasure To Kill / Whatever If May Take / Extreme Aggression / Renewal
By 1997, Kreator certainly were outcasts, operating in a world entirely dismissive of thrash and none too keen on any direction Kreator pursued. They were in a no win-situation but Outcast was nowhere near the disaster it’s often labelled as!
We defy anyone not to admit that “Phobia” is one of the catchiest tracks in Kreator’s arsenal while the apocalypse-baiting “Black Sunrise” – which would have been right at home on Renewal – is an epic sojourn into doom-laden brutality. Brimming with a sense of unmistakable evil, Outcast is the sound of pure darkness; highly emotive and delivered with a crushing intensity.
Perennially unloved and by no means perfect, of all the BMG reissues, Outcast is the one to rediscover! 7/10
The only album missing? That’ll be 1999’s Endorama….an album that remains the most ignored in Kreator’s entire catalogue but also worthy of a brand-spanking reissue. Perhaps, it’ll emerge further down the line?!
Coma Of Souls, Renewal, Cause For Conflict & Outcast. All remastered and released on February 23 via BMG.