Kreator’s fourth full-length starts off strong enough with the title track bashing and dashing its way across an opening four minutes plus of the kind of rabid thrash metal that I always associate with Kreator. This opening salvo sounds like the raw Kreator I fell in love with back with Pleasure to Kill and Endless Pain before it. The drums sound prominent yet not dominating and Mille’s vocals are full of that familiar demented edge. The guitars by way of contrast feel further back in the mix when the song is in full flow, yet their presence is still obvious and key to proceedings.
My previous review of this album had oddly seen me having troubles with the record when I wrote a piece for another site about all the Kreator full-lengths from the 80’s. I guess having done an end-to-end of all their albums in that decade in the space of a couple of days had left me a little tired towards the end and so I think I had written this album off certainly by way of comparison to the others. The fact is though that Extreme Aggression fucking rips. The standalone riffing of Love Us or Hate Us is testimony to just how full of attitude this record is; more than proving its worth at the second time of reviewing.
I understand that this album started to be recorded in a studio in Berlin, but producer Randy Burns had concerns over the set up of the studio and although they tried, mid-recording of Mille’s vocals one day, Burns pulled the plug, and the band took themselves over to the States a few months to re-record the album and do it better justice. One of the instruments that benefited here was the drums. Recorded in the same studio that saw Phil Collins deliver In The Air Tonight, Ventor’s skins sound fucking amazing on Extreme Aggression and as mentioned before this was not to the detriment of any other parts of the Kreator machine either.
With guitarist Jörg Tritze still not comfortable in the studio Mille was left to all guitar duties (as per the previous album) and the energy that flows from both the riffs and the sonic leads sounds like there were more than one of him the studio. His riffs being borderline as beastly as his vocals the two talents of Mille Petrozza combine well to deliver and exciting and memorable performance. The pace and vitriol of Betrayer is extraordinary as it toys and teases with the tempo like a video game character hitting power-ups at various points in the song and then settling back down momentarily before they hit another one.
Extreme Aggression is an incredibly tight thrash metal record that operates within boundaries set out from the very start. As such, its intensity does feel like it detracts from the overall quality of the album as it is a little too consistent for its own good and it kind of needs a brooding number dropped in around the halfway point to mix it up a little. However, for the die-hard Kreator fan there’s so much here to love that I am not sure many of them would care.
I nearly missed this one which would have been my loss.
Canadians Infernäl Mäjesty operate in the zone of thrash metal that is rabid and putrid without necessarily dropping into blackened territory. Their debut album is a pretty fucking intense experience, even for a hardened thrash metal veteran like me. It is reminiscent of Possessed in terms of the death metal like intensity it generates, but also Slayer as a reference point for how true the thrash credentials are at the same time.
The album suffers an oddity in terms of structure early on with an instrumental track immediately after the opening song. This loses a lot of momentum from the album in all honesty and despite the big build up that goes on during track 3, Night of the Living Dead puts things back on course more from an atmosphere perspective as opposed to reasserting the intensity levels immediately. This is a strange choice of running order - even though it is obvious to see the link with the instrumental as an intro to the horror themed track mentioned above - and one that overall I do not think the record recovers from overall. The feeling of things being a little disjointed thereafter is not entirely shook off at any point, despite the obvious distraction of the thunderous racket that occupies most of the album.
This does not make None Shall Defy a bad album by any means. It is clearly made by a group of young people with all the morbid fascinations of horror, comics and serial killers that you would perhaps expect from the stereotype of thrash metal bands at the time. These dark curiosities transpose well into song writing content and provide the necessary dank sound to the frantic tempos as a reminder that whatever we are racing through there is something vile not too far away, permeating the air with its corrosive odour.
At times it does feel like a much slower version of Slayer as opposed to others where they seem to match the mad thrashing intensity of the aforementioned stars of the genre. Vocalist Chris Bailey does remind me of Tom Araya a lot, and the looping sonics of Steve Terror (yep, I know!) and Kenny Hallman are certainly not a football field away from Hanneman and King. I don't think drummer Rick Nemes quite matches Lombardo in the skill stakes but he still does a great job of bashing his way through the record.
Terrible artwork aside, None Shall Defy is a great old-school thrash metal record that is probably criminally overlooked by most fans of the genre.
"The New Order" saw Testament taking on a fresh new sound which included a growing reliance on melody & a more mature approach to song-writing. There are still plenty of the energetic thrash riffs that made "The Legacy" so appealing but the numerous acoustic sections & extra melodic content accentuate the heavier moments which gives them greater significance. Alex Skolnick's guitar solos are the clear highlight here & they lifted him to legendary status with me as a budding young shredder. His ability to create truly memorable lead solos without compromising on the technical wizardry was mind-blowing. Greg Christian's bass performance has plenty of energy & should not be overlooked either. He reminds a lot of Anthrax's Frank Bello at times while Chuck Billy's vocal display is top notch. Unfortunately there are some negatives to speak of though. The production is well short of the mark (especially in the rhythm guitar department) & this removes any chance "The New Order" had of reaching true thrash classic status with me personally. Louie Clemente's drumming is also pretty basic which leaves much of the material feeling like there's some untapped potential that could have been uncovered with a more adventurous & exciting approach.
As for the songs themselves, we have a pretty consistent record overall. The Aerosmith cover "Nobodys Fault" is the clear weak point & sounds more like Skid Row than a thrash band. It should certainly have been omitted as it's simply not at the same standard as the originals but I think the rest of the material is very solid. Of the proper songs my highlights include the title track, "Disciples Of the Watch" & "Into The Pit" but the real highlight for me is two-minute instrumental "Hypnosis" which shows Skolnick's lead guitar skills at their absolute best. It's a soaring & highly emotive performance that easily manages to overcome the production issues that hold back the rest of the album (which is partly due to it's lack of rhythm guitars in all honesty).
Overall, "The New Order" is a quality thrash metal album that had the potential to be a real classic with a bit more care in the production department. It's certainly a worthy follow-up to Testament's more widely celebrated debut which has a slight of edge over it's younger sibling with me these days thanks to its raw & aggressive tone.
A mix of the good the bad and the ugly for me on this month's playlist:
01. Evile – “Incarcerated” (from “Hell Unleashed”, 2021) 4/5 It is surprising to see how often this album has featured in the playlists as the consensus seems to be that it is very ordinary. This is probably it's best track however.
02. Soulfly – “Seek ‘n’ Strike (from “ॐ”, 2002) [Submitted by Daniel] 2.5/5 I have never been able to take to Soulfly and this is no exception.
03. ZnöWhite – “Do Or Die” (from “All Hail To Thee” E.P., 1984) [Submitted by Daniel] 3/5 I really liked the music but those vocals are fucking horrible.
04. Body Count – “KKK Bitch” (from “Body Count”, 1992) 3.5/5 I like Ice T so muthafuck her dear old dad!
05. Prong – “Beg To Differ” (from “Beg To Differ”, 1990) 3/5 The only other Prong song I know is Cleansing. This is OK but sounds dated.
07. Artillery – “Turn Up The Rage” (from “X”, 2021) 3.5/5 Pretty good speedy thrash from canadian veterans. Better than I expected.
08. Testament – “The Haunting” (from “The Legacy”, 1987) 5/5 classic bay area shit
09. Metallica – “Harvester Of Sorrow” (from “…And Justice For All”, 1988) 4.5/5 Brilliant. Listening to it now it seems to have elements of doom metal that I never really noticed before.
10. Slayer – “Skeletons Of Society” (from “Seasons In The Abyss”, 1990) 4.5/5 Slayer is as Slayer does.
11. Suicidal Tendencies – “I Feel Your Pain… & I Survive” (from “Join The Army”, 1987) 4/5 I was a huge fan of ST back inthe day. Not so much now but this still sounds terrific.
12. Gojira – “Born For One Thing” (from “Fortitude”, 2021) 4/5 I've never bothered with these guys but this is brilliant. Will check this album out.
13. Pantera – “I’m Broken” (from “Far Beyond Driven”, 1994) [Submitted by Daniel] 2.5/5 Don't know what it is about Pantera that rubs me up the wrong way but something does. I think it may be Anselmo's vocals.
14. Ritual Carnage – “Escape From The Light” (from “Every Nerve Alive”, 2000) 3.5/5 pretty good - another new one on me.
15. Helstar – “Pandemonium” (from “Glory Of Chaos”, 2010) 3.5/5 They obviously got better after 1989's Nosferatu which I really didn't like.
16. Striker – “Crossroads” (from “City Of Gold”, 2013) 3.5/5 More Maiden than Slayer
17. Flotsam & Jetsam – “Blood In The Water” (from “Blood In The Water”, 2021) 3.5/5 Decent - F&J were never really much more than that to me.
18. Anthrax – “Imitation Of Life” (from “Among The Living”, 1987) [Submitted by Sonny92] 5/5 Love this album. Love this song.
19. Vreid – “Shadows Of Aurora” (from “Wild North West”, 2021) [Submitted by Sonny92] 4/5 Anthrax-ish thrash from the unpredictable latest album from the BM stalwarts.
20. Kreator – “Under A Total Blackened Sky” (from “Enemy Of God”, 2005) [Submitted by Sonny92] 4/5 Kreator back in the thrash groove after struggling to adapt their sound for a few albums.
21. Hirax – “Flesh & Blood” (from “El Rostro de la Muerte”, 2009) [Submitted by Vinny] 3.5/5 Riotous stuff.
22. Feared – “Your Black Is My White” (from “Svart”, 2017) [Submitted by Vinny] 2/5 No. I didn't like this at all.
23. Cruel Force – “Victim Of Hellfire” (from “The Rise Of Satanic Might”, 2010) 4/5 I like the heads-down charge on this track.
24. Nekrofilth – “Crave The Grave” (from “Devil’s Breath”, 2013) 3/5 I much prefer Zack Rose's other band Crucified Mortals.
25. Cryptic Slaughter – “Wake Up” (from “Money Talks”, 1987) 3.5/5 Lots of HC influence - sounds musically a lot like Suicidal Tendencies S/T debut (which I love).
26. Scythelord – “Wireframe” (from “Earth Boiling Dystopia”, 2021) 3/5 Too much like some kind of HC death metal for my taste.
27. Sadus – “The Wake” (from “Swallowed In Black”, 1990) 4.5/5 I love this album's deaththrash mayhem.
28. Nekromantheon – “Zealot Reign” (from “Visions Of Trismegistos”, 2021) 4.5/5 Kick-ass track from one of the best thrash albums in years
The vocals are really cool though, for some reason it reminds me of a Thrash Metal Geddy Lee from Rush with the higher pitched, more Rock-ish screams and flourishes. Still not sure if that's technically a positive or not, but it is in my book.
This right here is why I love this place. Never heard that comparison before but now you have said it, I can kinda hear it too.
I revisited this legendary slab of Teutonic thrash glory over the last couple of days & very quickly remembered how much of an absolute riff-fest it is. The production is superb (particularly the killer rhythm guitar tone) & the addition of Frank Blackfire on lead guitar adds some welcome technique & melody to proceedings. There are three or four unmitigated belters amongst the ten tracks on offer here but it's the inevitable quality of the filler material that best showcases the album's true strength i.e. it's overall consistency. Mille's raspy vocals still possess that imposing & instantly recognisable snarl that I've always loved so much but the most noteworthy characteristic of "Coma Of Souls" is the whole new level of maturity in the song-writing which showcases an unusual level of restraint at times. The continued improvement of Ventor as a powerful, precise & efficient drummer is equally impressive, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of one of Kreator's greatest charms i.e. their unbridled aggression. I guess this is partially responsible for "Coma Of Souls" not being my favourite Kreator record. In fact, it probably wouldn't even make my top three but it's still an undeniable classic which is as strong an indication of the importance of Germany's finest metal export as there ever was. What an album cover too!!
Yeah I don't like "Teacher's Pet" either. It massively disrupts the flow of the album & stands out like a sore thumb in the tracklisting. In truth though, there's actually a couple of other tracks on "Black Metal" that don't do a lot for me too though, namely "Raise The Dead" & "To Hell & Back". I certainly enjoy the "Black metal" album but I actually prefer "At War With Satan" & "Welcome To Hell" over it these days.
To Hell & Back is a clumsy track for sure, feels hastily written like prime filler on the album. I mean, notwithstanding the fact that the band aren't noted for a burning level of depth in their songs it is still a poor effort by the way of comparison to the rest of the album.
My below review from many years ago still holds up but I'm now finding that I'd probably take "R.I.P." over the CD version of "Punishment For Decadence" due to the entirely unnecessary cover version of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" that's tacked on the end. The vinyl & cassette version (which is what I grew up with) is a step up though. There are some genuinely great moments, despite the fact that many of the riffs still resemble practice exercises more than artistic expression.
"This was my introduction to Coroner way back in 1988/89. I bought the album on cassette & listened to it quite regularly. It was certainly a much classier effort than their debut album "R.I.P." from the previous year but I still found myself struggling a little with Tommy's occasional neo-classical indulgences. Instrumental "Arc-Lite" with its Malmsteen-esque arpeggios was a particularly awkward listen for me as the neo-classical element seems to take away from the darkness of the atmosphere & at times it all seems a little cheesy. The rest of the album is generally quite enjoyable though with "Absorbed", "Sudden Fall" & "The New Breed" being the pick of the bunch. It's definitely a solid release but 80's Coroner never really appealed to me like 90's Coroner did."
I don't know what the hell that "mix" of Fucking Hostile was aiming to achieve but it was awful. I was surprised at the Flotsam and Jetsam track as previous ones of the new album hadn't stuck with me, very catchy and memorable if not still a tad predictable. Artillery managed to not get skipped this time around but man does that album sound accessible in comparison to previous ones. Still not getting on with Bewitcher though.
I am now all but done with Bathory, just do not get the love for them overall and that Vektor track was a bit too safe for my expectations of them. On the positive side I enjoyed the dash of Kreator, Nekromantheon, Possessed, Enforcer, Antiverse, Leeway and (surprisingly) that Sepultura track also.
My inclusion of Toxik reminds me to spend more time with their discography as they get far too little attention.
I'm inexcusably tardy getting my comments in on this month's Pit feature, especially considering it's my suggestion. Sorry.
Anyway, Daniel has given me some great recommendations for more underground 1980's thrash metal albums and this is one of my favourites. I got into metal around the same time as the punk scene exploded here in the UK and I could never understand why the one could not co-exist with the other. Some may argue punk was a fashion-based scene and to some extent this is true, but musically both were about the energy and resistance to authority and I could never understand the two scenes mutual antipathy. I mention this because my love of both punk and metal has always drawn me towards bands that sound like they have a more "garage" mentality and although their playing may not be the most technically gifted, sheer adrenaline and attitude shine through and give certain albums and bands an X-factor that can't be defined by technical assessment. The Italian thrashers debut is an album that, I would contend, is a perfect example of this attitude. Sure at times it sounds sloppy and the production isn't the greatest (although it's nowhere near as bad a s some would have you believe), but it is an adrenaline-fuelled half an hour of balls-out riffing and snarling Kreator-influenced proto-death thrash metal that makes you feel like you could punch through a brick wall. Although 1987 gave us some classic thrash metal albums I personally feel Necrodeath have no reason to feel outgunned by most of them and Into the Macabre fully deserves a place in that year's best of lists.
I like both albums, having given each of them 4 stars, being great albums (though not what people consider the best) from two of the Big 4 of American thrash metal. But the one I prefer is... Anthrax's State of Euphoria! I agree about that Anthrax album being underrated, there's a great amount of thrash classics that sadly many other listeners put down over the years thinking the sound is not the same as earlier. So Far, So Good... So What! is a good classic too, with nearly 5 of the 8 songs being perfect and would've made me gained interest in this band...if not for 3 meddling stinkers that made the rating plummet slightly lower than that Anthrax album. With that, Anthrax makes my vote!
Inspired by Sonny starting this kind of thread in The Fallen, I decided to give it a go with a different clan. I'm sure a lot you have heard of this band already... Cryptic Shift! A deathly progressive thrash metal band from Leeds, West Yorkshire, they formed in 2013 and released several demos and EPs since then, but it wasn't until 2020 when their debut album Visitations from Enceladus was released. I say they sound like a cross between Vektor, Revocation, and mid-2000s Gojira, with slight death-doom/melodeath influences, all in a cosmic spacey theme. I sure look forward to getting more of this band's music (along with several other bands) tomorrow, but for now, enjoy this immense powerful contender for best album of 2020:
If there are any other new bands you like, please share here. And if they're in a different clan, feel free to start a thread in that clan. The new shall be known!