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Class 6(66)

Kreator: Coma of souls

11/05/12  ||  Habakuk

Introduction

Habakuk: Some things in this world need rectifying. For example if an internet site of your choice lists “Coma of souls” with a score of 7/10. I’m not telling you which one it was, let me just say that fortunately, we at GD have the Class6(66) section to deal with such mischief. And as if the inclusion there wasn’t enough, I brought main man and former staffer revenant back for this one to team up with me once more in a joint effort across 10000 miles / 16000 km. Take that people, he actually stopped raising his kids for now and chose to review Kreator’s 1990 album with me instead. So rev, in your opinion as a professional: Can forced exposure of your sons to “Terror Zone” on loop for 10 hours a day replace a boring, “normal” education?

revenant: Let’s call it a work in progress. Early results are promising, but it’s still too early to tell. However, to ensure a proper metal upbringing of my two sons I’ve already set about re-naming all the children’s games we will play. It’s no longer “Hide n’ Seek”, oh no, we’re playing “Hidden Dictator”. The rules are basically the same as Hide n’ Seek, only the person hiding has to wear a Hitler moustache. “Simon Says” will now be known as “Mental Slavery”, and I have a few others in the works.

But enough about kids games, let’s talk about the album at hand. Oh yes, and that review. That ranks right next to the infamous “Slaughter of the Soul” review for mine. Are we being trolled? Perhaps, but the guy is allowed to have his opinion, no matter how wrong it is. He’s a frustrating guy at times, isn’t he? “Coma of Souls” is not “unique or engaging enough”, yet Evile are? Makes you want to shake him like a baby (relax people, that’s a joke. I know not to shake a baby, so don’t go calling child welfare on me you humourless prudes). So let’s right the balance, and give this thrash classic the GD coverage it deserves. Kick this shit off Haba.

Songwriting

Hab: I don’t know too many thrash albums that amass such a big number of catchy parts and add as much tempo and aggression to it as this one. I mean, “Coma of Souls”? The beginning alone had me hooked for ages. Whenever I read the title, I compulsively start humming that riff. “People of the lie”? That whole song is a thrash break of dess! The buildup and chorus to “Terror zone”? “Hidden dictatorrrrr”? Brilliance I say.

Endless Rev: Whoah, slow down a second, you’ve already mentioned half the album here! Let me see… agree, agree, agree, agree, agree and agree. Right then. Let’s not forget the chorus to “Material World Paranoia”, and then there’s… you know, we could probably mention all the songs in this section. Might make this review a little too long for the reader. I do want to mention more on “Terror Zone” though. That song indeed has a special place for mine. And not just the build up to the chorus, the whole fucking thing. If ever a band wanted a lesson on how to build from a mid-paced, catchy number to a vicious speedy neck-breaker, this is the song to listen to. Add to that the build from the lyrics as the descent into the terror zone takes place, ending in the anguished “ oh nooooooooo, all alone”, and it’s simply class all the way.

Ultimately why the songwriting is so good here is this: Kreator still had that raw, youthful anger and aggression flowing while at the same time using their experience and maturity as musicians in harnessing their kreativity (see what I did there? Fucking genius I am) perfectly. If only more thrash bands could write like this. Score then? I’m thinking 9.5 is the order of the day.

Kukorama: Yeah. Let me just cross-check: “Underwhelming”, “unremarkable”, “[nothing] sticks out from the crowd”, “songs […] muddle together too much”. Aha! Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. 9.5.

Production

Revving Corpse: I have to admit it took a while before this record’s sound clicked with me. It’s just so cold and hostile sounding, not like the American productions I was used to listening to, which were much warmer and easier on the ear. But that’s the difference between German and American thrash from the time: German thrash always had that nastier, more raw side to it than the American stuff. And once you get used to it, there’s no denying this is an ace sounding record.

*Haba the Teuton”: Correct. I have to say though, it didn’t take me much getting used to. Witching metal, now that’s something you need to “get used to”. I actually never put this into direct comparison to its contemporaries from across the pond. What struck me though is that the album has a masterfully professional production job. Hostile, yes. It’s definitely got a good edge to it, but not at the expense of a clear and discernible as well as balanced sound – it actually keeps a solid grounding instead of becoming too trebly.

Pleasure to Rev: Yes, the sound here very much delivers aggression and hostility without having to sound raw, which in itself is a feat. Score then? 9?

Flag of Hab: I’d add distinctiveness to the pile, and go along with a 9.

Guitars

Hab: No tricks or cheating here. Kreator in my opinion started out as a band that played well over their own abilities, but by 1990, this had obviously led to them being absolutely confident and flawless in their skill. All playing here is razor-sharp. Also, there are these trademark, epic melodies strewn in, which make this all the more awesome.

Toxic Rev: This album is a goldmine for epic melodies. Plus there’s the guitar solos. Some of those solos are just so damn good it’s beyond my ability to string a sentence together on how good they are. That whole lead break section on “Agents of brutality” dwarfs Mt Everest in it’s epicness. Just wow. Add to that the razor sharp riffage you mentioned throughout and this is just a top notch performance all the way.

Kuk of Violence: I was about to mention the leads in “Agents of brutality” as well. 1990 or not, doesn’t that part strike you as archetypical 80s in style? That melody line and progression have got that sense of predictability, but in a positive sense: That climatic wail is exactly like it should be, and when the chords at 4:30 kick in, I feel like listening to the “Terminator” soundtrack. Even if you’d want to find something bad about the guitars, you would fail utterly. I’d go up to a 9.5 here.

Love us or Rev us: You’re on the money as always. 9.5 it is then.

Vocals

Habarkuk: Mille’s tone is pretty much impeccable on “Coma of souls”. A pissed off, angry thrash bark along with the best of ‘em. There are other Kreator albums where I’m a little turned off by his bad English in connection with the completely humourless lyrics, but here is one instance where it works perfectly.

Extrev Aggression: Mille definitely nailed here, that’s for sure. As far as raw, ugly and angry thrash vocals go, Mille is amongst the best of them and this album shows why legions of these neo-thrash bands imitate his style so much. Even at his base level Mille hits the mark, then come to a chorus and he suddenly finds a higher gear and sounds like an even nastier cunt. In album opener “When the sun burns red” you’re thinking “man this is one angry dude” when suddenly he screeches “HAILSTORMS TORNADOES” causing instant pant shittage. Brilliant stuff.

Harr: True that. This is a great two-dimensional performance: angry – and even angrier. And as opposed to some accounts on their earlier works, he doesn’t come near any kind of hysterical squeal. By 1990, I’d say this was the best he ever sounded.

People of the Rev: Indeed, and this is a great thrash vocal performance. Not sure what planet the person who wrote that review was on when he wrote his comments on Mille’s vocals, but this is fucking thrash dude, and the performance here is bang on for a thrash album. Singing? You’re listening to the wrong genre man. This is a 9 all the way.

Habler: Agreed on all accounts. 9.

Bass

Hidden Kuk: The beginning to “Hidden dictator” is the best reference point here. That is one ridiculously clean sounding bass guitar, with just that bit of metallic, pick-played edge that lets it shine through the guitars. A bit boring on its own, but an ideal backbone sound.

Terrev Zone: It is the best point of reference because it’s one of the few times it’s not buried beneath the guitars. I have to admit I really struggle to hear the bass here aside from the occasional background thrumming. It does it’s job, I’ll give it that.

Kuk is your saviour: Given his equally Italian-sounding name, let’s hope Rob Fioretti is no second Poggione. Well, I can hear it at times, and I’ll just go with a 6 here.

Drums

Habanana: I have kind of a special relationship to ice-cream Ventor – perfect timing, but he can sound wooden and stale sometimes. Not this time: this guy sounds like a machine in the best possible way.

Violent Revolution: Wooden? Stale? That’s what’s NOT going on here. Granted Ventor-your-spleen is machine like in his ease performing the fast sections, but when you get a song with various tempo and beat changes is where he truly shines. I challenge anyone to listen to “Agents of Brutality” and tell me that is wooden or stale. I’ll even put money on it. My money’s safe, because you can’t.

Kuk inside your head: Yeah, that precision of his, no matter the tempo, is exactly what I meant. In case of “Coma of souls” it actually keeps the songs flowing all the time, through whatever changes the rhythm is put. It takes a lot of skill to pull that off, the side-effect however is that in the process Ventor eliminates all kinds of punk feeling that some thrash carries along. Just listen to “Endless pain”. Still, often I’d say that’s a pity, but somehow “Coma…” does just fine without it.

Revflection: But surely 1990 was too late to still be carrying punk influence into your music? Perhaps, but I think the performance here is pretty damn flawless now matter how you look at it. I’m thinking a high mark is definitely on the cards for this one..

Under the Kukotine: It’s never too late to incorporate a bit of punk. Anyway, I believe we agree on the subject matter. 9.

Lyrics

Ghetto Rev: I like the concepts that they cover, but unfortunately with a lot of English as a second language albums, sometimes the words chosen just don’t have the right impact. “Terror Zone” as a name, for example, doesn’t have that killer punch to make it a truly scary concept. Then there’s lines like this:

“You will die a a thousand times before they finally let you die”

Now I love the way Mille delivers this, especially the “die” at the end, but really this line should be worded:

“You will live a thousand deaths before they finally let you die”

A small change I know, but I’m a nitpicking bastard and the second line would make far more sense to me. Habba?

Bubba: The problem here is clear. Mille is all too eager to get something terribly serious and intelligent across, and the worst thing to happen to you in that case is you making a fool of yourself. This shit’s not any better or worse than Sodom, Tankard or Destruction, but until today the guy is very pronounced in not allowing any fun into his metal in favor of some kind of message. At times that simply backfires, like you outlined. It speaks volumes of Mille that he as a grown man can sit through a children’s TV show dead serious and without any kind of self-irony. If only you knew German.
Anyway, it sounds way worse in theory than in practice. I’d still say we call it a 7.

Forever: Given some of the ridiculous song titles Kreator have delivered over time it is hard to imagine some of them not being tongue in cheek (“Riot of Violence”? Really? Not a “Riot of Friendliness”?), but there you go. 7 seems a fitting mark for me here as well.

Cover art

Haba in heaven kuk in hell: Are we talking about the special edition or the standard loadout?

Revlicas of Life: Wait, there’s two editions? This I did not know… let me guess, the alternative cover also has an ugly head on it?

Outkukt: Yeah, and it’s pretty limited, too. I think GD was one of the few sites that received this one, sometime after 14/08/09. Here it is:

Coma of Smalls

Revtopia: If a picture says a thousand words… well there’s a thousand words to describe that review. Haha, the alternative version gets a 9 from me, just short of a perfect score by virtue of the necessity to skinny up his face. As to the original… I’m thinking this would look a lot better on the vinyl layout, it’s pretty hard to make out what’s happening inside the head on my CD edition. Still striking and distinctive though, which is what a good cover needs to be.

Logo

Enemy of Kuk: What, no pointy letters? No sharp edges?

One Revil Comes: No, they save those sharp edges for the music (boom boom). Surely Kreator has the only logo in existence with it’s own underlining? Maybe, I can’t be arsed looking it up to confirm it, but I have to say I like the logo a lot.

The Habriarch: You’re forgetting Blind Guardian, my friend. Nuttin but a G(erman) thang, that. It shows that we’re serious. Kool logo nevertheless, but nothing overly special. 7.5?

Prevail: I like it, I’d give it an 8, maybe more even, but really, we’re debating a score on a logo here? Let’s move on…

Booklet

When the Kuk burns red: I can safely say that I haven’t seen it in ages, and that it’s not on me right now. Maybe you got something here, rev?

Revscalation: Booklet? No, this definitely doesn’t come with a booklet. After all, a “booklet” would have pages, binding, that sort of thing, would it not? What we get here is a card (not the Hallmark variety) with lyrics in the middle and a band photo on the back. But let’s cut them a little slack, we’re talking 1990 when this was released, so it’s not as though the whole booklet mindset had set in by this time. It serves its purpose, let’s call it a 6.

Overall and ending rant

Amok Rev: Well I’m just going to come out and say it: this is the best Kreator album for me for the reasons we’ve covered above. While retaining their youthful anger and aggression, they’ve added a level of maturity to improve the songwriting elements and sharpen their skills. Yes, no doubt in my mind they hit their peak here, in 1990, during the twilight era of thrash. Kind of strange looking back to see three of the finest albums of the genre all came out in 1990 (this, Megadeth’s Rust in Peace and Slayer’s Season’s in the Abyss) with the end so nigh, but that’s just how it went. Needless to say, I completely disagree with the original Smalley review published on this site (the time for subtlety is over), there is no doubt in my mind of this album’s classic status which I am glad to be part of rectifying.

Men without Kuk: I wanted to drop something witty here, but you’ve hit the nail on the head. There, it’s all said! Which leaves me to thank you for that small comeback of yours, Kreator of Twins. Make sure to stick around and keep kicking it as bromantically as here from time to time. “Coma of Souls” of course leaves with a…

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Noise Records
  • Website: Kreator MySpace
  • Band
  • Milan “Mille” Petrozza: vocals
  • Frank Blackfire: guitars
  • Roberto Fioretti: bass
  • Ventor: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. When the sun burns red
  • 02. Coma of souls
  • 03. People of the lie
  • 04. World beyond
  • 05. Terror zone
  • 06. Agents of brutality
  • 07. Material world paranoia
  • 08. Twisted urges
  • 09. Hidden dictator
  • 10. Mental slavery