KREATOR at GOTHIC THEATRE | 11/8/12 One of the most arresting moments of Kreator's show at the Gothic Theatre came when the band performed "Phobia." The way the melody seemed to swim inside the aggressive main riff gave the song a layer of atmosphere without compromising how hard the song hit. In sort of recalled what Napalm Death was able to achieve on its underrated 1996 album Diatribes.
Kreator has been one of the most influential thrash bands in the genre. Not only is the act an exemplar of that art form but its songs are really good. The band structures its songs well and does so in ways that aren't completely predictable. On this night, although there was plenty of exhilarating aggression in every song, the melody and dynamics allowed the music to breathe and gave it a physical presence that blast beats and the like often don't accomplish in the low end.
Drawing liberally from across its discography for its set, Kreator was incredibly driving and powerful throughout. On songs like "Pleasure To Kill" the outfit was particularly so. As the song burned through the first three quarters, the echoing drum strike toward the end gave the tune an otherworldly quality. It was a powerfully present sound, like a gun shot in a tunnel. When Petrozza screamed "Hordes of Chaos" you could practically envision his eyes rolling into the back of his head.
Before "United In Hate," a guitar tech brought out an acoustic on a stand and set it at playing height, so that Sami Yli-Sirniö could play the introduction, after which, the group went into the song, and he stepped back and the acoustic was whisked away. It seemed almost like a Spinal Tap moment, but it actually worked, and it probably does so seamlessly every time.
The Phantom Antichrist track "Civilization Collapse" was frantic in its pacing, and at the end, the guitar solos sounded even more manic, spiraling and splaying out in a compelling way. The show ended with Mille Petrozza teasing at playing "Flag of Hate" and then waving Kreator's own banner. At one point, the band also teased a bit of "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, but concluded with an inspired take on an old classic, "Tormentor."
Overkill has probably always been an impressive band, but who would have thought that more than three decades in, the group would be in such top form. But it was. With a new-ish version of Chaly as a backdrop, Overkill just put on a strong show by anyone's standards. Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth was in good humor. At one point, he told the audience, "You motherfuckers are making me feel like I'm fifty-three again. I like that shit."
Like Kreator later, Overkill treated us to some of its best songs across a pretty solid career. "Hello From the Gutter" from 1988's Under the Influence sounded more tight than the studio version. The whole set seemed so coherent and brimming with energy, that it's hard to say where the band shined the most. The short, galloping bursts of sound and rhythm at the beginning of "Ironbound" created a sense of excitement, and when Blitz got the crowd to shout along to the chorus of "Rotten to the Core," it was heart warming seeing all those fists pumping in the air, men and women alike, shouting in unison. The band's signature song, "Overkill," sounded as good as it did when it was first released.
Blitz saved his best bit for last when he told us that Overkill played in Colorado for the first time at Norman's in 1985. In honor of that occasion, the band ended its set with the last song it played that night, a fantastic cover of the Subumans' song "Fuck You." The rendition inspired plenty of hearty "fuck yous" from the crowd.
Kreator Gothic Theatre - 11/8/13 Englewood, CO
01. Phantom Antichrist 02. From Flood Into Fire 03. Warcurse 04. Endless Pain 05. Pleasure to Kill 06. Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite) 07. Riot of Violence 08. Enemy of God 09. Phobia 10. Violent Revolution 11. United In Hate 12. Civilization Collapse 13. Flag of Hate / Tormentor
Personal Bias: As a bit of a metalhead in the late '80s, I was a fan of Kreator, and I'll never forget seeing "Hello From The Gutter" by Overkill on MTV's Headbangers' Ball and hearing it on Z Rock regularly and liking it. Random Detail: Ran into the ubiquitous Aaron Saye, scene documenter and head of 7th Circle Music Collective, at the show. By the Way: It would be too exhaustive to document all the cool T-shirts both Kreator and Overkill had on hand. Price range about $25.