Kreator is a thrash band formed in Essen, Germany in 1982. Along with fellow German thrashers Destruction, Sodom and Exumer, the band pioneered a subgenre known as Teutonic thrash. This version of the popular metal category features more extreme elements like harsh vocals and faster double bass pedal drumming, as well as palm muted guitars. The band’s current lineup consists of Mille Petrozza (guitar, vocals), Christian “Speesy” Giesler (bass), Jurgen “Ventor” Reil (drums, vocals) and Sami Yli-Sirni0 (guitar).
In 1982 Mille Petrozza, Jurgen Reil and bassist Rob Fioretti came together to form a band called Tyrant. The band quickly changed their name to Tormentor. They released a couple of demos and played live all around Germany. Their style at the time was more of a Venom influenced speed metal. After gaining some regional popularity the band again changed their name, this time to Kreator, and they signed with Noise Records. Shortly after signing, the band released their debut album Endless Pain. The album saw the band move away from speed metal in favor of thrash which was gaining in popularity with metal fans at the time. They did retain some of of the Venom influence with the addition of early first wave black metal elements. Endless Pain is considered a benchmark album in the creation of blackened thrash metal. Michael Wulf of Sodom would join as a touring guitarist. However, when it came time to add a permanent second guitarist, the band chose Jorg Trzebiatowski.
With the lineup now solidified, the band recorded what many consider to be their best album in 1986. Pleasure To Kill left black metal behind for what would become the basis for Teutonic thrash. Because of the harsh vocals and fast drumming, the album is also considered to be a major influence on death metal.
Kreator quickly released their next album Terrible Certainty in 1987. This release saw the band grow as musicians as they added in more complicated arrangements and slight progressive elements. The album also brought the band their first airplay on MTV with the song “Toxic Trace”. Soon after, Kreator was licensed to Epic Records for distribution outside of Europe. This marriage gave Kreator their first major US album hit namely 1989’s Extreme Aggression. The video for the song “Betrayer” became one of the most requested songs on MTV’s Headbangers Ball.
Soon after the release of Extreme Aggression, Jorg Trzebiatowski left the band and was replaced by former Sodom guitarist Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik. The band next released Coma of Souls in 1990. Although not as critically acclaimed as their previous few albums, it still helped to continue their increase in popularity.
In the early 1990’s thrash’s popularity began to decline. Bands like Metallica and Anthrax began to go in a more commercial traditional heavy metal direction with The Black Album and Sound Of White Noise respectively. Kreator decided to try a different tactic and went the slightly less commercial route, experimenting more with death metal, industrial metal and Gothic metal. In 1992 the band released Renewal, which was more of an industrial and death thrash album. Many fans were disappointed in their heavy use of industrial sounds and their sales and live show attendance suffered as a result.
The decline in their fan base, along with the crazy recording and touring schedule of the previous seven years caused the group to begin deteriorating. Rob Fioretti left the band and was replaced by Andreas Herz. Herz was with the band for a bit but never played on any of the albums. He was later replaced with current bassist Christian Giesler. Then in 1994 Jurgen Reil left leaving Mille Petrozza as the only founding member remaining. He was replaced by Joe Cangelosi. The band was then dropped from Epic Records because of their immensely decreased popularity.
In 1995, the new lineup released Cause For Conflict which was an amalgamation of the metal popular at the time, most notably industrial and groove metal. Despite the attempt at working with popular sounds, the album failed to bring back the band’s early success. Shortly thereafter, Frank Gosdzik and Joe Cangelosi left. Their replacements were former Coroner guitarist Tommy Vetterli and a returning Jurgen Reil.
The band continued with more of a groove metal and industrial sound on their next album Outcast, while also adding in elements of Gothic metal in an attempt to once again rejuvenate things. The sales continued to decrease, so the band released what was pretty much a full Gothic metal album in 1999 called Endorama. This also did not perform well.
Although Petrozza said that the band never cared about album sales, Kreator returned to their roots in the early 2000’s. Tommy Verteli left the band and was replaced by current guitarist Sami Yli-Sirnio. The band released the album Violent Revolution in 2001 to rave reviews. The band had returned to form while adding in some elements of melodic death metal. This updated style would become a major influence on contemporary thrash acts like Battlecross, Skeletonwitch and Toxic Holocaust. The band delved further into harmonized guitar riffs on 2005’s Enemy of God which also received positive reviews. Kreator was back and a whole new age of fans were clamping onto them.
In 2009, the band released arguably their best album of the modern era. On Hordes of Chaos Kreator returned to much of what made Pleasure To Kill such a great album, while also continuing to evolve their sound. This was the first Kreator album to enter the US Billbaord charts as well.
Based on their resurgence, the band was signed by Nuclear Blast Records in 2010. Their first release for the new label would be the critically acclaimed Phantom Antichrist in 2012. Here Kreator continued with their extreme melodic thrash sound, while also adding in a fair amount of progressive time signatures.
At this point the band has come almost full circle, now influencing an entire new generation of thrash bands. Because of Kreator, most current thrash acts employ harsh vocals, some guitar harmonization and more extreme and complicated song arrangements. Although Kreator is rarely spoken about in the same breath as any of the Big 4 bands, their reach, influence and overall catalog of music may be even deeper than any of those four bands can claim.
Currently the band is working on a new album that they hope to have released sometime in 2016.
- Endless Pain (1985)
- Pleasure To Kill (1986)
- Terrible Certainty (1987)
- Extreme Aggression (1989)
- Coma Of Souls (1990)
- Renewal (1992)
- Cause For Conflict (1995)
- Outcast (1997)
- Endorama (1999)
- Violent Revolution (2001)
- Enemy Of God (2005)
- Hordes of Chaos (2009)
- Phantom Antichrist (2012)