People associate thrash metal with the Bay Area of the US and the Big Four of American metal. What’s often forgotten is that Lars Ulrich brought European influences to the States with him, and bands like Kreator have existed for the same length of time. With a career spanning thirty-five years and spawning fourteen albums, two EP’s and three compilations, it’s no exaggeration to say that they are a band who have achieved legendary status within the genre. While some of their peers are a shadow of their former selves, if new album Gods of Violence is anything to go by, there’s no question that Kreator are getting better with age.
If you throw in Polish death metal pioneers Vader, you have a bill that sounds almost too good to be true. It’s no surprise then that tonight’s show was sold out, and as I approached the Manning Bar, I was thrilled to see a long line of my black-clad brethren stretching around the block.
It was also great to see local death metallers Daemon Pyre appointed to the opening support slot. They relished their opportunity to open for two legendary bands in front of a packed house. Playing mainly songs from their self-titled LP including “Misanthropic Parallels” and “Defeated”, imposing frontman Sam Rilatt emptied his lungs with those signature growls that have made Daemon Pyre one of the most recognisable names in the Australian metal scene. The heaving horde seemed to enjoy their brutal sound, and judging by the mosh-pit it incited, new song “Unto A Dying World” has already won the fans over. These guys are the real deal, putting tremendous effort and feeling into their live show, yet maintaining a level of humility that makes them extremely endearing to the fans.
To the metal community, Vader needs no introduction, and when Piotr Wiwczarek and co. hit the stage, the sunken dance floor of the Manning Bar descended into chaos! Opening with a trio of their blistering best, “Wings”, “Triumph of Death” and “Reborn in Flames”, the Polish powerhouse pummelled the punters with all the speed and ferocity for which they’re renowned. There was no let up from the band, nor the crowd and the set list comprised a collection of songs spanning their entire career. Older tracks such as “Chaos” and Decapitated Saints”, as well as newer tracks such as “Send Me Back to Hell” from 2016 album The Empire had the capacity crowd moshing like maniacs. When they were done, they received a huge roar, and under normal circumstances, the fans would be calling them back for more. Tonight, however, Vader was the second course, and the main was yet to come.
As the sound sample for “Choir Of The Damned” thundered through the PA, the adrenalin was pumping, and the guys from Kreator were greeted by a sea of black T-shirts and raised devil horns. Even the most avid fan could not have predicted what was about to be unleashed. Opening with “Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite)”, the German legends put on a masterful display of speed, clinical precision, and all the frenetic fretboard wizardry that makes thrash metal so great. The sound was huge, and Jürgen Reil’s double bass shook the foundations. On top of this, the lighting, smoke and flying sparks helped to create an amazing atmosphere.
Frontman Miland Petrozza had the crowd under his command for the entire set. When he asked them to scream, they screamed; when he called for a circle pit, it opened up immediately; and when he called for a wall of death, the punters on the floor obediently split in two and then charged fearlessly at each other like human wrecking balls!
The circle pits during “People of the Lie” and “Total Death” were rabid, and when every song sounds amazing, it’s hard to single out highlights. Tracks such as “Phobia”, “Gods of Violence”, “Fallen Brother”, and “From Flood Into Fire” all had great crowd participation, with heads banging, horns and fists flailing, and everyone screaming along at the top of their lungs. With the end of the night approaching, the whole room began to chant ‘KRE-A-TOR! KRE-A-TOR!’ This led into “Extreme Aggression” and closer, “Civilisation Collapse”. They came back for two encores, “Violent Revolution”, and the all-time classic, “Pleasure To Kill”.
After finally witnessing Kreator live, it’s easy to understand why they’ve lasted so long. In the live setting, they’re a dominant force that is almost incomparable. They don’t just play music; they create an adrenaline-infused atmosphere that many others have unsuccessfully attempted to replicate. Without a doubt, one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.