Kreator were instrumental in forging German thrash, a faster and more aggressive strain of metal only matched across the pond by Slayer. Not only did they push the limits of thrash along with Sodom and Destruction, but they also ended up laying the foundations of death metal. Anxieties over tyrannical regimes and nuclear war were common in thrash in the ’80s (and are starting to feel a little too familiar); with the Iron Curtain next door, those fears were quite real for German bands, and it showed on Kreator’s early albums, especially Endless Pain and Pleasure To Kill. Thrash peaked in the early ’90s and, with a few exceptions, has found little innovation, even with its commercial (relatively speaking) resurgence in the late 2000s. However, German groups like Kreator were immune to this stagnation. With Gods of Violence, Kreator hold close the savagery that made their ’80s works seminal while finding a newfound grandiosity to compliment it.
It may seem weird at first that Kreator have made their music a little more complex — they had always cranked the velocity instead of incorporating more progressive influences, unlike Metallica and Megadeth. However, Violence shows that not only can sprightly melodies be a part of Kreator’s repertoire; they can blend in with their unrelenting rhythms as well. “Army of Storms” and “Totalitarian Terror” are highlights on this front, with soloing that’s both developed and more chaotic than anything they’ve put forth before. Vocalist, guitarist, and leader Mike Petrozza’s chemistry with Sami Yli-Sirniö is stronger than ever, resembling a Hanneman-King partnership, embracing chaos with a sense of balance.
Kreator also remember they’re metalheads first and foremost, and “Satan Is Real” is where Violence’s penchant for fist-pumping choruses comes to life. “Satan” is deliberately over the top, a cheeky anthem that doesn’t take away from the venom of the whole record. Yelling “SATAN IS REAL” is not the most original proclamation, but you can’t deny the fun behind it. These anthemic persuasions also manifest in more serious tracks like “World World Now” and “Hail the Hordes”, the latter featuring bombast that wouldn’t be out of place on an Amon Amarth record. Petrozza’s deeper voice is key here; the low end that’s encroaching on his rasp lends a lot of weight to those choruses. As with all of Violence, it’s an example of age lending to fury, not restricting it under the misled guise of “maturity.” The record surges without slowing down, expanding without adding burden. Moreover, it proves that, out of the old class, Kreator are among the strongest, crushed not by ego or commercial temptations.
Essential Tracks: “Satan Is Real”, “Army of Storms”, and “Hail to the Hordes”