Sunday January 21st 2018

Forging the Blade, A Metal Retrospective, Vol. 25: KREATOR


Forging the Blade, A Metal Retrospective, Vol. 25: KREATOR
by Andy Bang


The History of Teutonic Thrash

Teutonic thrash metal is a regional scene of thrash metal music that originated during the 1980s in Germany. Along with Bay Area thrash metal, East Coast thrash metal, and Brazilian thrash metal, it was one of the major scenes of thrash metal in the 1980s. Two bands influential to early Teutonic thrash metal were Destruction, from Lörrach, and the female-fronted Holy Moses, from Aachen. After hearing Venom, both bands soon changed their sound within a matter of weeks to their new and permanent sound.

Other bands soon followed. In 1982, the Gelsenkirchen-based band Sodom released their first demo, Witching Metal. In their early days Sodom were highly influenced by the NWOBHM, to the point they credit being a trio to bands like Motörhead, Tank, Raven and Venom who also featured power trio line-ups. Their style featured raspy vocals, palm muted guitar riffs, and frantic double bass drumming. Only with the release of their second LP Persecution Mania and with guitarist Frank Blackfire’s input to move away from their original sounds and themes they became a thrash metal band for good. Essen’s Kreator formed and released its debut album Endless Pain in 1985. Destruction would release their full-length debut Infernal Overkill a year later. Also around this time, the German based SPV records created its Steamhammer imprint label, a label designed to primarily sign metal bands. Noise Records was founded soon afterwards. These two labels would help spread the Teutonic thrash metal scene globally.

Teutonic thrash metal would not only come from Germany, but also from Austria and Switzerland. The biggest band to come outside of Germany that were part of the scene was Coroner, a highly technical and progressive thrash metal band that was noted for having dark lyrics and accomplished guitar work on the part of Tommy “Baron” Vetterli.

By the 1990s, Teutonic thrash metal was considered old fashioned for the most part and was not listened to by a broad audience anymore. While alternative rock had made the music look too mild; death metal and black metal had made the music too extreme for most, and power metal bands such as Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Blind Guardian (bands that had been influenced by the thrash metal bands in terms of sound) soon became the mainstays of the German metal scene. Many bands soon split up or changed their sound, resulting in further backlash against the scene. Kreator went in to make their music more melodic with gothic and industrial influences, while Sodom would attempt a death/thrash style for one album and then move into a more hardcore punk influenced sound. Destruction would instead face a period of instability which saw them split with frontman Schmier, releasing a thrash album without him (Cracked Brain), then attempting to go radio-friendly and less “thrashy” with the poorly received The Least Successful Human Cannonball. Meanwhile Schmier would start Headhunter achieving some success with a slew of three power-thrash albums similar in sound to some of the offerings of Rage.




  • Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza – vocals, guitar (1982–present, founder)
  • Sami Yli-Sirniö – guitar (2001–present)
  • Christian ‘Speesy’ Giesler – bass (1994–present)
  • Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil – drums, vocals (1982–1994, 1996–present, founder)
  • Former
    • Michael Wulf (deceased) – guitar (1986, one show only) (ex-Sodom)
    • Jörg “Tritze” Trzebiatowski – guitar (1986–1989)
    • Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik – guitar (1989–1996) (Mystic (Bra), ex-Sodom)
    • Tommy Vetterli – guitar (1996–2001) (Coroner)
    • Roberto “Rob” Fioretti – bass (1982–1992, founder)
    • Bogusz Rutkiewicz – bass (1988, one gig in Budapest) (Turbo)
    • Andreas Herz – bass (1992–1994)
    • Joe Cangelosi – drums (1994–1996) (Whiplash, Massacre)
    • Marco Minnemann – drums (2009 September – October Tour Drums)

Kreator is a thrash metal band from Essen, Germany, formed in 1982, under the name Tormentor. They originally performed a speed metal style with Venom influences. Their style of music is similar to their compatriots Destruction and Sodom, the other two big German thrash metal bands. All three of these bands are often credited with helping pioneer death metal, by containing several elements of what was to become the genre. Kreator’s work began in the vein of pure thrash metal but ventured into industrial and gothic from 1992 to 1999, before eventually returning to their classic thrash sound to date.

To date, Kreator has released twelve studio albums, two EPs, one live album and three compilation albums. The band released its debut album Endless Pain in 1985. Although many of their previous albums, including Pleasure to Kill (1986), were quite popular in the United States, Kreator did not experience major American commercial success until the 2009 release of their twelfth studio album, Hordes of Chaos, which peaked at number 165 on the Billboard 200 and debuted at #16 on the Media Control Charts, the band’s highest ever chart position in Germany. The band is currently working on new material for a thirteenth studio album, which is due for release in 2012.

The band was formed as Tyrant in 1982 in Essen, Germany. The original lineup featured vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza, drummer Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil, and bassist Rob Fioretti. They soon changed their name to Tormentor and released two demos. They changed the name of the band again to the final one, Kreator and signed to Noise Records in 1985. The name change came from the label, as there already was a band by the name Tormentor from Hungary.

Kreator recorded their debut album, Endless Pain, in just 10 days. Many black and death metal bands consider it to be a very influential release. The band hired the late Sodom guitarist Michael Wulf for the album’s tour.

Wulf was in the band for a few days and didn’t play on the band’s next album, 1986’s Pleasure to Kill, despite his getting credit. A new guitarist, Jörg “Tritze” Trzebiatowski joined the band and he played on this album, which is widely considered a thrash classic. Produced by Harris Johns (Helloween, Voivod), it is arguably one of the heaviest, fastest albums in metal, while showing the band growing in talent and technical ability. The song “Flag of Hate” became an early hit, and the band became one of the most promising up-and-coming European metal acts. With Tritze the band started their first tour ever (before the release of Pleasure to Kill they had only played 5 gigs total). The band closed out the year with their first EP, Flag of Hate.

In 1987, Kreator released their third studio album, Terrible Certainty, which is often considered a high-quality Kreator album as the arrangements on the album were more complex and the tempos more varied. The album featured another hit “Behind the Mirror”, and the band’s popularity continued to grow and a video for “Toxic Trace” was created for MTV play. They managed to find enough time and money (coming from the concerts) to finance another EP Out of the Dark … Into the Light.

Berlin based Independent NOISE Records licensed KREATOR for the territories outside of Europe and Japan to the major label Epic Records in 1988. Their fourth studio album and debut with Epic (for limited territories) Extreme Aggression, recorded in Los Angeles, became a metal hit in Europe upon its release in 1989. Continuing the Terrible Certainty formula while showing the band still progressing musically and with better production by the well-regarded Randy Burns (also Megadeth among others), the album featured the band’s first major singles and music videos, the title track and “Betrayer”, becoming major hits on MTVs Headbangers Ball. They toured North America with Suicidal Tendencies, which greatly expanded their popularity outside of Europe.

In 1989, German director Thomas Schadt made a documentary about Kreator (focusing on the social aspect of heavy metal in the Ruhr Area) titled Thrash Altenessen (named after the band’s hometown, a suburb of Essen). Tritze left Kreator after Extreme Aggression. In 1990, with new guitarist Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik (also formerly of Sodom), the band released Coma of Souls. The album was not quite as praised as the bands previous few albums (many felt the album was “rushed” and repetitive), but still managed sell and maintain popularity quite well, with the singles “When the Sun Burns Red” and “People of the Lie” becoming hits.

The early 1990s brought a decline in the popularity of traditional thrash metal. With many other thrash bands such as Metallica and Anthrax changing their sound for a more commercial approach, Kreator began experimenting with death metal and industrial metal around this time.

The result was Renewal, released in 1992, which featured heavy death metal and industrial influences. While reaching a newer, more commercial audience, the band upset many longtime fans, accusing them of “selling out”. The band, once known for being an excellent live act, had “disappointing” shows and tours for this album due to the industrial influences.

The excruciatingly taxing touring commitments that followed took the band as far as South America, but understandably left them physically and creatively exhausted. The band began to fall apart around this time. Founding member Roberto Fioretti left the band after the recording of the album as he wanted to spend more time with his family and was replaced by Andreas Herz, who never played any official release. In 1994 Reil left as well, leaving Petrozza the sole original bandmember. Reil was replaced by Joe Cangelosi. Herz left in 1995 and was replaced by Christian Giesler. To make matters worse, their contract with Epic was dropped. Now on G.U.N. Records the new lineup put out the album Cause for Conflict that year. The result was their most modern album at that time, the sound on this album had influences from Pantera and Machine Head, a slight return to a harsher sound than on the previous album.

Gosdzik and Cangelosi left in 1996 and were replaced by Tommy Vetterli (formerly of Coroner), and, surprisingly, Jürgen Reil. The band continued to experiment with their sound, releasing Outcast and Endorama, both of which experimented with goth and ambient influences, incorporated samples and loops and even found Petrozza trying a few different singing styles on for size. It also retained the groove metal influences. The record sales went down, by the end of the 1990s the band reached both commercial and critical nadir. Though frontman Mille Petrozza never cared about this: “For us, success doesn’t define in record sales. So all our albums have been successful for us, because we’ve achieved what we were aiming for…”.

In 2001, with new guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö, Kreator released their “comeback” album Violent Revolution, which saw the band returning to their classic thrash metal style. Despite containing a lot of melodic and so called “Gothenburg metal” riffs, it was praised by fans and critics alike. The tour was extremely successful and introduced Kreator to a younger generation of metal fans. Yli-Sirniö, who lived in Germany, was known to be a good guitar player, so the band recruited him.

A live album Live Kreation and live DVD Live Kreation: Revisioned Glory were released in 2003, and a new studio album – emphasizing more on the gothenburg influences – Enemy of God was released in 2005. This album also saw a special edition re-release in 2006 called Enemy of God: Revisited.

In early 2006, Kreator toured North America with Napalm Death, A Perfect Murder, and The Undying. Kreator were to tour 2008 with King Diamond, Leaves Eyes, and Cellador, however the tour was canceled due to back issues with King Diamond. In March 2008, the At the Pulse of Kapitulation DVD was released, featuring Live in East Berlin and Hallucinative Comas on one disc.

Both had previously been available on VHS only and were long out of print. The band had also began working on their 12th full length album in late 2007/early 2008 and began recording in July 2008.

Recording for the album, dubbed Hordes of Chaos, was wrapped up in late August, with the album being released in January 2009. On 23 January 2009, the band began their “Chaos Over Europe” tour in Tilburg (the Netherlands) with Caliban, Eluveitie and Emergency Gate as other acts. In April 2009, the band embarked on a North American headlining tour, co-headlined by Exodus, and featuring Belphegor, Warbringer, and Epicurean. In late 2009, Reil was forced to sit out some tour dates due to personal issues, with Marco Minnemann temporarily taking his place.

Kreator signed with Nuclear Blast in early 2010, before embarking on a North American tour in March to celebrate their 25th anniversary. A European tour with Exodus, Death Angel and Suicidal Angels, called ‘Thrashfest’, took place in late 2010. According to Mille Petrozza, Kreator will enter the studio in January 2012 to begin work on their next album with producer Jens Bogren.


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