If you’re anything like me (And, really, who isn’t a Jewish Thalidomide baby up in this piece?), you’re sick of wading through the mud puddle of rehash thrash that’s collected below the metal drainage pipe over the last few years. Not only is most of it redundant, but it also overshadows the older bands that are still double-kicking ass. Take Kreator, granddaddies of German thrash. You want a thrash revival? After a pretty lackluster stretch in the 90s, these tusslin’ Teutons began a second golden age with the glorious Violent Revolution (2001). THAT was a thrash revival, and it predated the debuts by newbies Fueled By Fire, Warbringer and Avenger of Blood by years.

Kreator’s twelfth disc, Hordes of Chaos (an ESL pun on Michael Moynihan’s Lords of Chaos, mayhaps?), extends the band’s post-millennial killing spree to three albums, and it might be the best of the bunch. There’s no need to make excuses for the band because the two remaining original members are over 40 – Kreator are harder than ever. Guitars sound taut ‘n meaty like they’re strung with intestines. Sami Yli-Sirniö’s solos spray acid rain. And age has charred Mille Petrozza’s throat into a smokestack billowing righteous hellfire. Even the chant-a-long “Unite to fight/Radical resistance now!” from “Radical Resistance” overcomes its potential bro-down factor when Mille’s coughing it up.

Fans of the vintage whiplash of Terrible Certainty will find plenty to love in the straightforward cuts “War Curse” and “Demon Prince,” both of which tear through the house, fuck your sister and raid the fridge without asking permission. But Kreator trust the power of thrash metal enough to know that it can handle some extra musical heft without losing any of its viciousness. Listen closely to how “Amok Run” escalates from ornate ballad to decapitating thrash to a truly epic coda, or how “Absolute Misanthropy” barely repeats itself, save for the thrilling guitar parts of the chorus. Hordes of Chaos bulges with details like that – harmonized lines that peek out, rhythms that shift gears. Thrash metal is rarely this artful.

Kreator might be wise to stay away from clean-sung choruses, which nearly capsizes “To the Afterborn.” Otherwise, Hordes of Chaos speeds from strength to strength, easily qualifying as an early contender for thrash album of the year. That nearly every song has something interesting happening in it proves that the band is taking worthwhile creative risks. That all of those risks are paying off with memorable songs proves that Kreator are, once again, at the top of their game.

(four out of five horns)


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