Back in 1985 there was what came to be known as the German Thrash Explosion. Bands like Sodom, Destruction and, indeed, Kreator, pushed forward the boundaries of extreme heavy metal. In the mean time, Sodom isn't what they used to be. Destruction, in fact, seems just about to have died (or have they?). Only Kreator remains a serious heavy metal band these days, though they have also had their ups and downs.

Back in 1985 Kreator was a pretty standard death metal band. A year or two later they were one of the finest, fastest and tightest thrash/death/whatever metal outfits. In 1992 they alienated quite a few fans with the quite excellent "Renewal", which mixed traditional Kreator sounds with a hint of industrial, perhaps even gothic. Perhaps in response to press and fan reactions, Kreator's two albums since - "Cause for Conflict" and "Outcast" - were much heavier and showed very little room for experiments. Yet perhaps it was this particular lack which caused these albums to fail to convince.

With their ninth full-length studio album, "Endorama", Kreator have once more gained the courage to experiment. Although the result will doubtlessly alienate another bunch of fans, in fact one hell of a fine album is the result. Again there is the odd flirtation with industrial (voice distortion here and there) and gothic (keyboards, subtle string arrangements) music. Occasionally, Mille even sings, though in general his vocals are in the 'familiar' Kreator style. There's even a piano intro to "Everlasting Flame" (though it's hardly a ballad) and a piano/string instrumental called "Entry", whereas guitarist Tommy Vetterli has even made use of a guitar synthesizer.

Has the band gone as far as with "Renewal"? No. This will probably cause fewer fans to lose interest, also because, well, most of the tracks on "Endorama" just plain rock! The title track, for one, is one of the finest Kreator tracks ever written, whereas "Shadowland" is an excellent up-tempo metal track. "Soul Eraser" and "Pandemonium" will probably please the fans of old, whereas "Willing Spirit" has a chorus as haunting as that of the title track.

Even though "Endorama" has a few weak moments (such as the half-spoken sections which rather too clearly betray Mille's German accent, and the track "Passage to Babylon" which is perhaps a bit too experimental), it is Kreator's best album in years.

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Written April 1999


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