Well this certainly was a gig I definitely had a lot of anticipation for. With Kreator, as well as Destruction in October (yeah I think I’ve been banging on about them a bit much now, sorry), that’s two of my bucket-list bands ticked off in a year. I love my old-skool German thrash I do!
I was also really pumped for this gig because prior to the show I was having a really shitty time at work and I can never think of a better band to let off some steam to than Kreator, particularly when screaming your lungs out and raging in the pit to some of the 80s output.
First up was Shining. I had heard a lot about these guys in various metal press over time and I had the opportunity to check them out at this year’s Bloodstock. I was pretty impressed with what I saw and heard so I had an idea of what to expect. I can’t say I really know any of the songs to be perfectly honest and the music is not quite far enough up my street to make me want to buy their albums but I must say I certainly do enjoy Shining live. They casually walk onstage dressed smartly in black shirts and trousers (they look like one of few heavy bands you could invite to tea with your mum!), introduce themselves then get fired into their set. Once the music starts, their general “nice-guy” approach is blown to the wayside as charismatic frontman Jørgen Munkeby commands the stage rocking out and thrashing his guitar in punk rock fashion and posturing like mad with his famous virtuosic squealing saxophone. In addition to this, the other members of the band showcased a frantic live energy, all of which complements the crazy avant-garde brand of unique “Blackjazz” that Shining creates. It’s certainly entertaining to watch and an interesting listen.
However, the audience were rather tame. To be perfectly honest, Shining’s music isn’t the kind of music to mosh too, it’s more to be appreciated. It’s a very acquired taste and of course not everyone is going to like Shining but I must say I can definitely appreciate what they do even though they’re not quite my cup of tea. I certainly found myself nodding along and tapping my feet to the variety of unconventional time signatures. One thing I do like about Shining’s music is learning from them. I love hearing the creative use of time signatures, different drum beats (going from more pounding rock beats in the assorted times through to straight-up black metal blastbeats), synth riffs and atmospheres, and punky guitars along with Munkeby’s shrieking vocals. It certainly gets the creative juices flowing and definitely incites inspiration.
After 20 minutes or so (I can’t quite remember), Shining introduced their much-anticipated special guest – guitar maestro Marty Friedman. Inevitably everyone who mentions Friedman will talk about his stint in Megadeth and their 1990 thrashterpiece Rust in Peace, but this shouldn’t be the case – Friedman is past his Megadeth era and has his own body of work to speak for him such as this year’s critically acclaimed album Inferno. I wasn’t sure what to expect as the pairing of Shining and Marty Friedman seemed a little strange to me at first – however, they rocked it. It was a spectacle to watch. All 6 of the guys onstage simply seemed like mates enjoying an audience-attended jam session. I really enjoyed seeing them rock a variety of heavy riffs, some more in Shining’s style, some in a more old-skool style from older Marty Friedman works. Then the soloing was something else, especially the solo-offs between Friedman on guitar and Munkeby on sax. It was a joy to watch – they all looked like they were having fun and it made me want to get up there and jam too (though I couldn’t play as well as those guys for a long time given my lack of practice in recent months!). As I said about Sabaton, I think that’s what you want in a gig – if the band are clearly enjoying themselves onstage, the audience will most likely enjoy the show too.
Following Shining was Arch Enemy. Seeing Arch Enemy again represented something of a full circle to me as they were supports at my first ever metal gig back in 2007 on tour with Machine Head and Dragonforce. To be perfectly honest I’ve never really been a fan, and I much prefer Mike Amott’s older work in Carnage (expect a review in the near future!) and Carcass, but I do appreciate what they do. It was also interesting to hear new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz in comparison to her predecessor Angela Gossow. I had never heard her voice before in her previous bands so everything was fresh to me. Also present in the current incarnation of Arch Enemy is ex-Nevermore guitar wizard Jeff Loomis, also adding to the new mix.
I must I certainly was impressed! White-Gluz owned the stage and rocked like she’d been in Arch Enemy from the beginning and my God she can growl her lungs off. She’s like Dio in the sense that at first sight you wouldn’t expect such a big voice to come from such a wee lassie. Amott was also on fine form banging through anthem after anthem from throughout the band’s career such as “War Eternal” (the title track of their new record being promoted on this tour), “Ravenous”, “You Will Know My Name” and “My Apocalypse”. As was Loomis, widdling through solo after solo in fluid expert fashion, alternate picking the shred and executing smooth legato phrases all over the fretboard with ease. I don’t consider myself a lead guitarist but those lead chops certainly made me jealous – best get practising!
The crowd were certainly a lot more receptive to Arch Enemy and there were a lot more fans screaming along with raised fists down the front of the hall. The band ended with two fan-favourites, one of which I am actually familiar with and do very much enjoy – “Nemesis” followed by “We Will Rise”. Arch Enemy’s return to Glasgow promoting War Eternal certainly was a success leaving the crowd pumped in anticipation for the headlining legends.
Kreator. That is all. I think I must have been maybe 15 or 16 when I first came across Kreator and as soon as I heard that immortal intro (“Choir of the Damned”) to their 1986 classic, Pleasure to Kill, burst into the thrashing (bordering on death metal) insanity that is “Rippin Corpse” I was sold. I had to get a copy of Pleasure to Kill straight away and I feel in love with that album. Then I saw the videos for, and heard the madness of “Toxic Trace” and “Betrayer” and I had to buy the Terrible Certainty and Extreme Aggression albums. Extreme Aggression – the title sums up Kreator for me. Relentless riffing, pounding drums and throat shredding screams. I can never get enough of it, and that is why Kreator is one of my favourite bands. Their output from their 1985 debut Endless Pain through to 1990’s Coma of Souls never fails to get me screaming, moshing and air guitaring (even real guitaring when I get a jam session on the go). They’ve gone in a more epic and melodic direction ever since their comeback from the 90’s era of experimentation, beginning with 2001’s Violent Revolution through to their latest thrashterpiece Phantom Antichrist but that aggression and energy is still there and I love it.
I couldn’t wait for this gig, especially because of my shite day at work resulting in me having some serious steam to let off, and Kreator rocked it. How could anyone expect any less?
They began with this strange intro song. Something rather old-timey backing up a projected video showing a history of the Earth from creation, to the beauty of nature for it all to be destroyed by mankind’s hatred, war, disease and death ravaging the land. They exploded into “Violent Revolution” through to “Civilization Collapse” and sent the crowd wild. This was only the beginning too! After a more epic singalong to “From Flood into Fire” came the song I was waiting for to release my anger – “Extreme Aggression”. That intro will forever get me pumped up to go crazy. As soon as the burst of speed came that was the end. The crowd and I thrashed the place with Kreator, screaming the walls down and all the negativity from only a few hours before was gone leaving only a high from the intense thrash metal for the rest of the night.
Next up was “Phobia” from 1997’s Outcast, the only song from between Coma of Souls and Violent Revolution that they seem to play these days, resulting in yet another good old shout-along.
Following this, frontman Mille Petrozza made a great speech about how religion and politics only ever seem to divide people and that music can truly unite people. To an extent, I certainly agree. The crowd cheered before another frenzied mosh to “Enemy of God”. The next song showed a moment of reflection, it was more of a ballad and I must say I’d never heard this song before. James confirmed that is was “Voices of the Dead” from Enemy of God – I still haven’t got that album yet mind you! The song was backdropped by projections of many heroes from rock and metal that we’ve lost over the years. Some more well known, and others maybe not so much but there was cheers from the crowd for all of our fallen brethren including (in no particular order) Bon Scott (AC/DC), Chris “Witchhunter” (Sodom), Michael “Destructor” Wulf (ex-Kreator/ex-Sodom), Peter Steele (Type O Negative/Carnivore), Clive Burr (ex-Iron Maiden), Dimebag Darrell (Pantera/Damageplan), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), and of course Ronnie James Dio resulting in the loudest cheer. That man and his legacy will forever live on – We Rock!
Following this, Kreator went a bit more up my street with some real old-skool stuff, beginning some of the “famous Scotland-style” (according to Petrozza) massive mosh pits which would last until the show was over. I can never get over how big these pits were. Seriously, they were bigger than those I experienced at Bloodstock! No word of a lie, the pits were almost the length of the hallway in my flat, and about 2/3-3/4s the width of the whole flat in general! This started with the intro to “Awakening of the Gods” through to “Endless Pain” and naturally I joined in the raging mosh. There’s some videos on Youtube showing the pits, with the camera-person themselves filming the pit from the inside! They need to be seen to be believed, and believe me it was great fun!
The second half of Kreator’s set was comprised mostly of more modern ragers such as “Phantom Antichrist”, “Impossible Brutality” and “Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite)” and the thrashing pits raged on with no relent for the remainder of the night. If I wasn’t so tired from working all day since 6am I’d have stayed in the madness for it’s entirety but I joined the rest of the crowd for a scream-along and a headbang instead, conserving my energy for the end which was definitely a treat. Marking the beginning of the end by preceding the encore was of course the immortal title-track to Pleasure to Kill which invoked an increase in the pit. I believe there was a few walls of death that night too, though I can’t remember which songs they were in. Most likely the ones I’m describing! A song I can quite comfortably say I know off by heart, I naturally raged like something possessed screaming and growling my lungs out, air guitaring and raging in the pit.
The encore began with a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” which I believe Kreator included on a covers EP with their brothers in classic Teutonic thrash Sodom, Destruction and Tankard. Of course, it’s one of those songs you probably can’t call yourself a metal fan if you don’t know it. Seriously, who in the metal world doesn’t like Iron Maiden? I’m not one to jump on the “that’s not metal” BS of childish trolls that stalk YouTube and metal news sites/blogs like Blabbermouth but I seriously don’t think one could call themselves a metalhead and not like Iron Maiden. Through Hordes of Chaos‘ “Warcurse” to Coma of Souls‘ classic “People of the Lie” Kreator came to the perfect ending of their biggest thrashfest of the night with a pair of stone cold classics from the beginning with “Flag of Hate” and “Tormentor”.
As stated at the beginning, Kreator rocked it. I ticked another band off my bucket-list of bands I have to see before I die, they die themselves, they retire or they split-up. On the flip side, I’m a little disappointed there was no representation from Terrible Certainty as I love that album (or another song or two from Pleasure to Kill, Extreme Aggression or Coma of Souls), and an acquaintance of mine I chatted to outside the venue at the end of the gig was quite adamant about the fact they didn’t play “Bonebreaker” from , however the show was awesome and one of the most mental moshes I’ve been in. If you’re new to Kreator, I’ve made plenty of references of what music to look for in this review – go and listen to them, buy the albums and get yourself to a gig. Hell, if you’re already a fan, go and do those things anyway (maybe not buy the albums if you’ve got them all already).
You won’t regret it.