Kreator is a fine example of a band that takes a pretty sizable amount of time between releases, but the wait is always worth it, as the time they spend on vigorous development has yet to be a letdown. I say this because Kreator’s skull-crushing album Hordes Of Chaos is already ten years old, and they’ve only released two more albums since. Kreator is also a fine example of a band who’s newer material is so well pieced together, that a lot of it tops the classic material. Don’t get me wrong, Endless Pain is an absolute thrash essential, but musically, Kreator’s new efforts are beefier. Matter of fact, the latest effort by these Germans, Gods Of Violence, actually made my number one album of 2017.
Hordes Of Chaos is unique in a few ways, the first being that even though it was the twelfth album in their catalog, it was the first one to break charts over here in the United States. It was also mostly recorded in a live setting, straying away from digital equipment, with very few overdubs. Thus, this makes it one of the more raw discs of the later era. Since it’s also the first album to use that style since Pleasure To Kill in 1986, frontman Mille Petrozza describes it as combining the best moments of their back catalog with the intensity and experience of 2009 (source). Plus, that album cover is one of the coolest ever; I came damn close to getting that tattooed on me one time.
But all of these things aside, Hordes Of Chaos is one of Kreator’s best records just because of how great the musical companionship is. It’s always nice to come by a thrash metal record that stays consistent yet varies in elements, making for the perfect entree. For starters, the ability to be this heavy and intense all while having a lot of melody is quite impressive. Immediately, the title track showcases this with a really catchy guitar doodle that has me humming every time, leading into a more threatening rhythm pattern and explosive vocal delivery. “Radical Resistance” brings this to the forefront as well, with vocal bridges and a catchy chorus, backed by technical and thunderous riffs. “Amok Run” also gives as a taste of Mille’s actual singing voice in the intro, which is gloomy in the best of ways.
This somewhat goes hand in hand with the melodic tendencies, but almost every track has so much build that the chorus tends to follow a lot of suspense. “War Curse,” although a cheesier track, sticks in the head like tape, as well as paints images of war and bombs with all of the thick instrumental layers and pounding drum kicks. Man oh man, that’s another standout factor here; Jurgen “Ventil” Reil is absolutely insane behind the kit with incorporating blast beats, scattered fills, and keeping time like none other. As mentioned, suspense is also one of the key ingredients, mostly displayed right before a burning chorus, as well as with the rhythmic intros giving off such an eerie feel. “Absolute Misanthropy” shows its colors here with utilizing a guitar solo to precede one of the most ferocious vocal outbursts on the entire record.
All of these tactics go very well with the themes of war present on almost every song, which are only dialed down on the quick instrumental “Corpses Of Liberty.” To me, this is almost a musical salute to fallen heroes, and the transition it creates between “To The Afterborn” and “Demon Prince” is phenomenal. This all keeps everything flowing nicely, making it an effort that is most ideally heard in full length. Similar ideas presented in different tones are the name of the game, and the cleaner sections mixed with melody can almost be reminiscent of power metal. An underlying feeling of disaster loaded with changes in mood, topped with technicality are just extra toppings to make this disc so fantastic, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Ten years isn’t so much time that you can notice drastic differences in technology within an album, but does Hordes Of Chaos remain relevant today? Well, this one is another tricky one that lies on the “yes and no” border. For thrash goers, it’s an obvious yes, considering the fact that it isn’t dated at all, and everything I mentioned in the paragraphs above can back this pretty well. Since it also broke the American charts, it certainly is gonna hold some weight there as well, and in Germany, it absolutely holds up.
On the other hand, there was nothing crazy or revolutionary about these techniques. As a huge fan, I’d never call that necessary to remain relevant years to come. It is, however, nothing that broke a ridiculous amount of ground, and isn’t something that is talked about that often in heavy metal as a whole (sadly). So to put it simply, for a thrash record in 2009, it accomplished a lot more than many others with that tag can say. It’s also something that I suggest every metal goer hear at least once, but at the end of the day, it is not essential. As for myself, I think it’s one of the best records that Kreator have ever released.
Hordes Of Chaos came out on January 13th, 2009 through SPV/Steamhammer and can be bought in multiple versions. There are CDs, vinyl copies with an alternate cover, and special editions known as the “Ultra Riot” box with an extra disc containing demos and covers, as well as one with a bonus DVD. There are also vinyl pressings in various colors that were released in Germany in 2017, and you can find every version right here.