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Hordes Of Chaos

Steamhammer (2009)
Rating: 8.5/10

German thrash metal titans Kreator return with Hordes Of Chaos, an unbridled shot of aggression that is most assuredly going to make young thrash metal bands look stupid in its wake. While 2001’s Violent Revolution and 2005’s Enemy Of God have silenced critics and fans by proving Kreator are still relevant to the metal scene at large, it is Hordes Of Chaos that makes disillusioned fans true believers again. The band strove to capture a live feel for the album by recording large parts of it live in the studio, a feat they had not revisited since their timeless sophomore offering, Pleasure To Kill (1986).

The immediately striking thing about Hordes Of Chaos is how wildly aggressive it is compared to the last two albums. While its recent predecessors were undoubtedly punishing, this album is unrelentingly brutal. After a short build-up, nodding still to the Gothenburg influence that has infiltrated the band’s new millennium sound, the album explodes by way of the title track, holding “Everyone against everyone!” as its rallying decree.

The politically tinged track ‘Warcurse’ and the groovier ‘Escalation’ follow, but admittedly slow the onslaught a bit. Neither song is particularly memorable nor particularly unlikeable, but the album loses pace until ‘Amok Run’ breathes fresh life back in with its creepy beginnings and subsequent unbridled speed and passion. From here on out, Kreator lay waste to everything in their path, including those that believed Kreator would never again sound as passionate as they did in their youth.

While much of this album is worthy of highlight status, there are a few outstanding tracks more worthy of notation than the others. ‘Absolute Misanthropy’ is one such track. The guitar work is undeniably amazing. The guitar solos are like battles and as each solo winds down, the band take off at lightning speed, hitting the ground running each time with a sinister force and precision that comes only with age.

The ambience of ‘Corpses Of Liberty’ sets the stage for the album’s last track, ‘Demon Prince’, and combined they offer an unusually epic style that takes a bit of risk but pays off well. While this isn’t my favourite track from Hordes Of Chaos by any measure, it is a song that forces you to recognise both the diverse talent of the group and their hard headedness when it comes to challenging themselves musically.

Overall, this is easily Kreator’s best of the new millennium. For that matter it’s also better than most of what they did during the 90s, when they were experimenting themselves out of the consciousness of metal fans. 2009 is shaping up to be an incredible year for aging metal bands desperate to prove their continued importance to the scene. This newly tapped outcast like rage in Kreator is bringing out their best. Hordes Of Chaos is a shining example of why tradition is going to force you to pay attention in 2009.

Mark Fisher