For some, January is seen as the most depressing month of the year. And in fairness, especially here in the UK, it’s pretty easy to understand why. The Christmas and New Year festivities are already naught but a pleasant but fading memory, the bright sparkly decorations have been begrudgingly taken down and packed away in dull brown boxes, and the all too quick return to regular routine looms like an ominous black cloud overhead.
The weather is cold, wet and miserable, the sky seems to be terminally dark, dismal and grey, and when the sun does actually shine, it not only seems to be devoid of any genuine warmth but primarily designed to have the sole function of blinding absolutely everybody it comes into contact with.
However, following a year replete with such diverse, yet all too familiar horrors such as worldwide political turmoil, terrorists finding new and inventive ways of murdering those of a different religious persuasion to themselves, people turning on each other because of differing political ideologies, and popular celebrities and childhood heroes (not to mention a gorilla) dying by the week, all wrapped up in a big bow of natural disasters, mass shootings, and even a fun new disease, we should be thankful of the clean slate that a new year brings, even if it is only fleeting.
So here we are in January 2017 and gratefully inviting a brand spanking new Kreator album into our collective earholes. See, how much better is that than angrily cursing a period of time like it was some kind of physical entity with a personal grudge? While the last year or so has undoubtedly been hideous in some way or other to almost everyone, it actually appears to have done wonders for Kreator, helping them fashion their fourteenth studio album Gods of Violence (Nuclear Blast) by creating lashings of hatred, fear, intolerance and paranoia – subjects very close to their heart – for them to feast upon.
Frontman Mille Petrozza has never been short on confidence, and now in his fourth decade with the band, still belligerently does things his own way. He may have suffered a few missteps along the road with albums like Endorama (Drakkar), Outcast (GUN), and Renewal (Noise) [Oi – you leave Renewal alone! – Ed] not going down as well as he might have liked, but all of them still have their healthy share of admirers. Previous album Phantom Antichrist (Nuclear Blast) met with fairly positive reviews, but an overall lack of the band’s trademark venomous aggression left a few listeners somewhat lukewarm to its charms. No such problems here. Although Gods of Violence retains a more melodic side, the riffs are sharper, the rhythm section seems more furious than it has been in years, and Mille’s delivery could eviscerate kittens from a hundred yards.
This isn’t just another one-dimensional Thrash album either. If not for its slow, semi-orchestral section (and better production) ‘World War Now’ could have been lifted straight from the Flag of Hate EP (Noise). ‘Hail To The Hordes’, ‘Army of Storms’ and the furious and gallopy ‘Lion With Eagle Wings’ all feature moments of pure Iron Maiden, and after just a few listens, it’s a fair bet you’ll be singing along to the dramatic ‘Satan is Real’, ‘Totalitarian Terror’, and the punchy as hell ‘Fallen Brother’.
After a deceptively gentle start, the title track turns into a writhing behemoth of old school speed metal with a typically simple but instantly repeatable chorus. One for the live shows, without a doubt. Penultimate track ‘Side By Side’ is another stone cold rager, and final cut ‘Death Becomes My Light’ features another slow start, but rather unsurprisingly turns into a ferocious, mid-paced brute.
Producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth) helps give the band a clinical yet organic sound which, along with its predecessor, sits somewhere between Enemies of God and Hordes of Chaos (both Nuclear Blast), guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö puts in a shift and a half, bassist Christian Giesler thunders along underneath while drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil just continues to do what he’s done better than most for over thirty years.
So, while the new year’s slate remains as fresh and crisp as the January air, and before we eventually succumb to whatever untold horrors lie in store for us over the next twelve months, let this aggressive, venomous hook-laden German Thrashmonster put a smile on your face and a pair of invisible drumsticks into your hands.