Kreator: The classics revisited – four 90s classics reviewed

When most people think of thrash metal, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know the likes of Slayer, Megadeth or even Overkill. When it comes to German thrash though, few bands have dominated the scene as much as Kreator. With a career spanning nearly 34 years, the quintet have released 14 albums showcasing some of the best that thrash has to offer. Uniquely, the band has chosen this time to re-release arguably four of their most classic albums from the 90’s. Available in a range of formats, and with some juicy new bonus content, I figured it was time to relive the 90’s and get a feel for some of the band’s back catalogue.

First up on the list, Coma of Souls. Could their ever be an album which is quintessentially Kreator? With classics such as “People of the Lie”, “When The Sun Burns Red” and the aforementioned title track, this an album that no thrash fan should be without in their collection. With regards to the bonus material, this album has a recording from their concert back in 1990 in Fürth, Germany which is one of the best live recordings I’ve heard in a long time. Compared to a lot of bootlegs from back then, the sound is crystal clear and almost rivals some ‘official’ live recordings these days. Including classics such as “Pleasure to Kill”, “Tormentor” and “Flag of Hate”, this bonus disk contains a near perfect performance from the thrash titans from a time when they were at the top of their game.

Next up, we have Renewal. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never even heard of this album, let alone any songs from it. Having a sound almost similar to an early Fear Factory record mixed with some thrash undertones, it’s certainly not what I was expecting. Whilst there are some slightly more ‘thrash metal’ tracks, the majority of this album has a more industrial and almost nu-metal feel. With industrial sound samples dotted here and there, it’s an album that I’m in two opinions over. Whilst I applaud Kreator for taking a step outside their comfort zone, for me it’s just that little bit too different. The bonuses are of a similar vein as well, in that they are previously unreleased tracks, and also includes a remix of “Europe After the Rain”. Again, a little too different for me but good nonetheless.

Number three on the list, Cause For Conflict. Again, an album I’ve never heard before and compared to the last album, this one to me sounds a bit better. The tracks have that old-school Sepultura vibe, almost as if the band took a listen to Chaos A.D. or Arise and figured that they should have a go at making music similar to it. Amazingly, they manage to pull it with tracks such as “Prevail” and “Bomb Threat” being my personal highlights off the album. Admittedly, if the band did decide to play any songs off this album in a live set, I’m not sure how they would go down, but in my opinion I think they would add a nice little bit of variety to the setlist. Again like, Renewal, the bonus tracks on this album are previously unreleased tracks with “Limits of Liberty” arguably being the most ‘thrashy’ of the bunch. Out of all the tracks, this one would probably fit on a modern Kreator setlist, maybe after “Phobia” or “Violent Revolution”.

Last, and by no means least, on the list is Outcast. This album contains one of my absolute favourite Kreator tracks, “Phobia” and plenty of other classics as well. Compared with the previous two albums, this one sounds the most like the Kreator we all know and love today. Whilst tracks like “Enemy Unseen” and “Alive Again” still sound slightly different to the more modern melodic thrash that Kreator’s been releasing in recent years, they are arguably more ‘metal’ than some of the the tracks on the previous two albums. And continuing the contrasts, this album features a live recording from Dynamo Festival back in 1998 and again sounds pretty good. It’s arguably not as clean as the live recordings on Coma of Souls, but it does contain a much more varied setlist. Consisting of bangers like “Extreme Aggression” and “Choir of the Damned” and also deeper cuts such as “Renewal” and “Lost”, it is a very different kettle of fish compared to the other bonus disk on the first album. In my opinion though, that variety is good as it showcases a portion of the band’s career where things were different and metal was undergoing a massive upheaval. You could almost say the genre still is even today, but that’s beside the point really.

Whilst Kreator may not have the sales of Slayer, the mainstream appeal of Metallica, or even the maniac that is Bobby Blitz as a frontman, the band have stood the test of time and if anything these albums show it. Not many bands survived the mid 90’s when grunge was massive and to have survived those years and come out even stronger as a result of it is a testament to the quartet’s determination and songwriting skill. If you’re a Kreator fan and you’ve not listened to one of the four albums I just mentioned, I encourage you to do so and then listen to a track off Gods of Violence just to see how the band still have it all those years later.

All four of these albums are scheduled to be reissued via BMG on 23 February 2018.

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