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Friday, February 27, 2009

CD Review: Kreator - Hoardes of Chaos

Kreator - Hoardes of Chaos
2009 SPV/Steamhammer
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Moreso now than ever, people tend to fashionably slag bands shy of original members, particularly those who originally made a name for themselves in generations past. Say what you will about Germany's thrasher beloveds Kreator boasting only two residents from the old days (Mille Petrozza and Jurgen "Ventor" Reil), what counts these days is what kind of juice you pour into your reason for being.

Let that be the judge when coming to Kreator's latest crash 'n dash album Hoardes of Chaos. Letting very little off the gas from their 2005 crusher Enemy of God and 2001's Violent Revolution, the only real difference to Hoardes of Chaos is flashier guitar work, sparkling production and most of all, uncharacterically-discernable vocals from Mille Petrozza.

Okay, we have the 55-second airy interlude "Corpses of Liberty" which is as daring as Mille and company have been since the experimental days of Endorama and Outcast. The opening stanza of "Demon Prince" is un-brutally eloquent, but it does launch verily into a speed metal frenzy worthy of the Pleasure to Kill and Terrible Certainty years.

Is there anything really wrong with dressing up a tried and true standard such as Kreator has operated with for much of their career? Yeah, they used to be one of the fastest bands on the planet and sure, there was a cybernetic kitsch ala their classic crusher "Toxic Trace," much less their future-courting Coma of Souls album that has drifted away over the course of time, though recurrent in meted measures. A good example is found on Hoardes of Chaos courtesy of a few otherworldly chords pulled out of the old trick bag during "To the Afterborn."

Honestly, Kreator can still knock heads and provoke audiences into body-toppled mosh pits. Put Hoardes of Chaos up against a large number of their ilk and it stands up like a champ. "Warcurse" alone can outrun much of Kreator's competition much less "Radical Resistance," and even while they scale tempos down to hairs above mid-tempo on "Escalation" or "Amok Run," the enthusiasm Kreator projects doesn't dwindle. The energy is largely expounded on the thrumming heels of Jurgen Reil's thunderous double bass, which has no problem keeping a relaxed pace when called upon to do so before spiking madly on a dime.

Perhaps Hoardes of Chaos is a tad slick for the old guard who've been following Mille's monsterbots throughout their near thirty years--counting when they were known as Tyrant and then Tormentor. Hells bells and the forked devils pulling the doom chimes though, you have to admire the adrenalized fortitude Kreator still brings to the table. That hellion's march introducing the intertwining speed jam "Absolute Misanthropy" is particularly inspired, as is Mille and Sami Yli Sirnio's dancing fretwork. Their synergy on the slower-timed "To the Afterborn" is practically breathtaking in itself, despite the tune being perhaps their most accessible song ever recorded, save for the thrash bursts contained within.

Admit it, you were scared these guys were finished after Endorama...

Rating: ****

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