The 90s always divides opinion amongst metalheads. However as many thrash bands fell to the wayside as the decade drew on, there were still awesome albums being released. Teutonic terrors Kreator arguably reached a peak at the beginning of the decade with their fifth cut of raging thrash, Coma of Souls.
Kreator had shown growth over Coma’s four predecessors as they evolved from more blackened beginnings through increasingly socially conscious lyrics and tighter performances. The band also introduced more harmonic and melodic ideas as well as more varying tempos, culminating in Coma of Souls before treading more experimental pastures throughout the 90s.
Opener “When the Sun Burns Red” could be said to be one of the pinnacles of Kreator’s career at this point. It showcases everything the band had built up to while taking you on a musical journey through each section as frontman Mille Petrozza barks about the end of days as a result of human destruction of Earth. There’s the acoustic/clean intro building to the main riff showcasing flavours of harmonised guitars amongst the aggressive high-velocity thrashing and changing tempos.
Kreator undeniably penned numerous classics on Coma of Souls. The title track along with “People of the Lie” and “Terror Zone” still make live sets today. It’s easy to see why with the assortment of intense thrash riffing, expert song craft and earworm moments. Particularly notable moments include the stomping main riff and Ventor’s drum solo in “People of the Lie” and the tension building in “Terror Zone” as the music rises from the melodic intro, to the moody power chords of the early sections to the all out thrashing insanity of the ending. Like Coma’s opener, “Terror Zone” represents another highlight of Kreator’s career with its raging musical journey.
Kreator were definitely on top form when recording Coma of Souls. Each member of the band performed outstandingly with frontman Mille Petrozza’s intense throat shredding shrieks and barks, his expert guitar interplay with Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik who’s distinctive style complements Kreator well, and the tight pounding rhythm of bassist Rob Fioretti and drummer Jurgen “Ventor” Reil. The latter’s driving thrash beats coupled with the riffing giving cause for aggressive neck-wrecking.
Although Kreator were keen to flex their more epic songwriting muscle with “When the Sun Burns Red” and “Terror Zone”, the band boasts plenty of more straight up thrashing on Coma of Souls. “World Beyond” is a short sharp rager clocking in at 2 minutes of intense power chord riffing. This idea is also seen in “Twisted Urges” which also clocks in under 3 minutes and showcases more relentless riffing, albeit with less focus on power chords. The transition between relentless pace of the verses and the slower harmonised intro, the galloping pre-chorus and the catchy chorus make for another highlight of the album. The blistering pace continues in “Material World Paranoia”. Beginning with rumbling tom rolls from Ventor and a tapped guitar solo from Frank Blackfire, the song builds to the pounding verse riffs before returning to more drum acrobatics. The tempo drops down for the ending section as the “promise of a better future is a lie” refrain is left ringing in the mind.
“Agents of Brutality” makes for another killer highlight of Coma of Souls. Petrozza’s vocals are particularly strong as demonstrated by his opening scream introducing the moody harmonised intro. The high-velocity thrashing isn’t far behind in the verses before the catchy “Manic! Panic!” chorus kicks in, followed by one of the most sinister riffs on the album rearing its head in the bridge. The album ends with the duo of “Hidden Dictator” and “Mental Slavery”. Both tracks start winding down the energy of the album as it comes to a close, and while there’s plenty of awesome ideas making for two solid songs, they don’t make as much of an impression overall in comparison to the rest of the album.
Overall, Kreator’s classic 1990 album Coma of Souls is arguably one of the best albums in their entire career. The evolution from their primitive beginnings to the tighter, more socially aware and sophisticated music on Coma is outstanding. The album showcases Kreator’s increasing experimentation with melody and harmony yet doesn’t compromise any of the brutality they had a reputation for. Coma of Souls is chock full of insanely memorable moments and after 28 years since its original release, the songs still stand out as some of Kreator’s best.
Celebrating Kreator’s awesome career, and hot on the heels of last year’s remasters of the band’s 80’s classics (Endless Pain, Pleasure to Kill, Terrible Certainty and Extreme Aggression), the recently revived Noise Records have remastered Coma of Souls and its follow-ups Renewal, Cause for Conflict and Outcast – each coming with extensive liner notes by Mille Petrozza and bonus tracks. Each re-issue is also available in various formats including 2CD digipaks, coloured 2LP, digital download and streaming.
Highlights: “When the Sun Burns Red”, “Coma of Souls”, “People of the Lie”, “Terror Zone”, “Agents of Brutality” and “Twisted Urges”.
The remastered reissues of Coma of Souls, Renewal, Cause for Conflict, and Outcast are available now.