Kreator: Phantom Antichrist

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Kreator: Phantom Antichrist
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Kreator: Phantom Antichrist
Thrash Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
June 5th, 2012
Release length: 45:32
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Kreator return with the anxiously awaited follow-up to 2009’s Hordes of Chaos. The German group brings another forty-five plus minutes of Thrash Metal to barrage listeners, but this time under the flagship of Nuclear Blast, a label they aren’t strangers to. But, for their thirteenth full-length studio effort, Phanton Antichrist, have they dropped the ball after all this time, or is their aggressive spirit just as strong, if not stronger?

Like their most recent offerings, Phantom Antichrist has a very professional and modern sound to it that fully embraces what Kreator brings to the table, and anyone not living under a rock will automatically know what to expect. The guitar work has a cleaner sound that hits around the mid-range, but still comes through heavy all around except in the slower moments that utilize acoustic strings, such as during “The Few, The Proud, The Broken.” The bass is pretty strong in the mix with a deep, somewhat loud presence you can easily pick up on amid the other chords, though still largely a supporting role to the band than anything else. The vocals are the traditional rougher higher pitch that fans have come to expect, but there’s an expansion into softer harmonizations here and there as well. The cymbals sound pristine and superbly leveled against the varied in tightness and tone snares, as well as the superb docile click that feels commanding without forcing their existence to the forefront of the recording.

Phantom Antichrist is far from a catchy and hook-driven effort like many songs from the band have been lately. It’s as if trying to deter themselves from writing another Enemy of God, relying largely on aggressive material and some over-the-top elements, though not casting the newfound sound’s fame aside entirely. “Mars Mantra” kicks things off with a war-themed introduction that sets a nice tone for “Phantom Antichrist” to capitalize on. The song does mix between mid-tempo commanding riffs, as well as some catchy material that mostly appears in the chorus, a trend found throughout the release. This makes for a solid and enjoyable experience, though nothing that will make your jaw to the floor. “Death to the World” comes off like typical old-school Kreator full of pent up anger. The crushing chords and bass work well with the slightly technical foundation, as well as the general speed which is a little faster. The chorus again finds some catchier material that comes off a little more epic compared to “Phantom Antichrist,” and the vocal performance during it, as well as many other areas, has a good deal of energy behind it.

“From Flood Into Fire” kicks things up a bit in that epic direction once more, really shaking things up, but at the same time giving a bit of a pirate feel (for lack of a better term) to the chorus that one might picture Alestorm utilizing. It definitely is interesting, and the slower pace holds a strong rhythm that gradually builds in richness, all the while making you want to bang your head along. This lasts until the half-way point where the song varies between high-speed Thrash intensity to softer guitar and bass music with distorted clean singing, causing it to feel more like a conceptual piece. “Until Our Paths Cross Again” carries a similar out of place tone, though not quite as obvious. Instead, it’s just really depressing to listen to thanks to the depressing tone of the song and the lyrical content, making for a very suiting conclusion to the release that will leave a lasting impression on the listener far better than many others. “The Few, The Proud, The Broken” finds a subtle epic charge to it as well. The music is heavily varied throughout, though largely sticking to a mid-tempo pace with some quicker fury thrown in here and there. Again, this one offers a slower acoustic piece, as well as some differing elements that were meant to be more on the epic side, though not all work.

Honestly, it’s the more fluid material throwing back to the days of releases like Violent Revolution that stand out the most, but unfortunately don’t hit until towards the end. “Your Heaven My Hell” is a perfect example. Varied chugging drum work with some really catchy yet still harsh guitar work, all making a really intimidating experience that just doesn’t stop once it kicks into full gear. The guitar solo really matches the emotion the track is going for, as well as perfectly suits the established pace with an enthusiastic chorus that immediately grabs the listener’s attention. “Victory Will Come” kicks off with a nice melodic touch to the opening riffs that works perfectly with the chorus when it hits, though the main riffs are just generally harsh early Kreator material once more that is hellbent on kicking things up in the mosh pit prior to pounding your fists in the air to the infectious rhythms that appear later.

Phantom Antichrist is a strong enough recording that you should take notice of it, but at the same time much of it doesn’t really stand out as well as it should. It’s a mixture of older and new Kreator influences jammed together in one album, and sometimes in one song. The variety found here and there can be a bit too much to keep a consistant flow, though still works out in the end to give plenty of headbanging room, and the more streamlined tracks really offer a blast from the group’s past. Much of the album ends up sounding patterned, especially in the chorus. There are plenty of times you’ll bob your head along to the rhythm, but outside a few tracks that grab the listener by the throat you’ll walk away feeling content, but a little let down with how few songs really make an impact, or cause you want to run to the nearest living thing and start a mosh pit on the spot. There’s plenty of aggression and general Thrash angst that can feed the listener for a long time outside that first spin, but chances are good you’ll find youself going back to Coma of Souls or Violent Revolution more often than to this release.

01. Mars Mantra + Phantom Antichrist – 5:52
02. Death to the World – 4:55
03. From Flood Into Fire – 5:28
04. Civilization Collapse – 4:13
05. United in Hate – 4:38
06. The Few, The Proud, The Broken – 4:37
07. Your Heaven My Hell – 5:54
08. Victory Will Come – 4:14
09. Until Our Paths Cross Again – 5:41
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.