Kreator performing at Reload Festival in Germany, 2015
|Origin||Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany|
|Genres||black metal (early)|
Jürgen "Ventor" Reil
Jörg "Tritze" Trzebiatowski
Frank "Blackfire" Gosdzik
Roberto "Rob" Fioretti
Kreator is a German thrash metal band from Essen, formed in 1982. Their current lineup has been the same since 2001: lead vocalist and guitarist Mille Petrozza, bassist Christian Giesler, drummer Jürgen "Ventor" Reil, and guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö. The band's lineup has changed multiple times over its 36-year career, leaving Petrozza as only constant member. Reil is the other original member left in Kreator though he had a hiatus from the band, which lasted from 1994 to 1996.
Kreator's musical style is similar to that of their compatriots Destruction, Sodom and Tankard, which is usually more complex and, since Violent Revolution (2001), more melodic. Along with those three bands, Kreator has been referred to as one of the "Big Four" of Teutonic thrash metal, and they are often credited with helping pioneer death metal and black metal by containing several elements of what was to become those genres. The band's style has changed several times over the years, from a Venom-inspired speed metal sound, later moving into thrash metal, and including a period of transitioning from thrash to industrial metal and gothic metal throughout the 1990s. In the early 2000s, Kreator returned to their classic thrash sound, which has continued to the present.
To date, Kreator has released fourteen studio albums, two EPs, two live albums and three compilation albums. They gained a large underground fanbase in the international thrash metal community, with their second studio album Pleasure to Kill (1986) regarded as an influential album of the genre. Many of their subsequent albums - including Terrible Certainty (1987), Extreme Aggression (1989) and Coma of Souls (1990) - were also highly acclaimed. Despite being a very influential band, as well as one of the first European thrash metal acts to sign to a major label (Epic Records in 1988), Kreator would not achieve mainstream popularity until later albums, including their thirteenth studio album Phantom Antichrist (2012) and its follow-up Gods of Violence (2017), both of which peaked at higher chart positions in many countries, with the latter reaching number one on the German charts. The band has achieved worldwide sales of over two million units for combined sales of all their albums, making them one of the best-selling German thrash metal bands of all time.
The band was formed as Tyrant in 1982 in Essen, Germany. The original lineup featured lead vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza, drummer Jürgen "Ventor" Reil, and bassist Rob Fioretti. Kreator recorded their debut album, Endless Pain (1985), in just ten days. The band hired the late Sodom guitarist Michael Wulf for the album's tour to play lead, while Petrozza switched to rhythm guitar.
Wulf was in the band for a few days but never on the band's second album, Pleasure to Kill (1986), which is widely considered a thrash classic and a big influence in death metal. It would not be until 31 years after its release that Pleasure to Kill entered the German album charts. Produced by Harris Johns (Sodom, Helloween, Voivod), the album showed the band growing in talent and technical ability. The song "Flag of Hate" became a concert standard, and the band became one of the most promising up-and-coming European metal acts. The band started their first tour ever (before the release of Pleasure to Kill, they had only played five gigs total). The band closed out the year with their first EP, Flag of Hate. A new guitarist, Jörg "Tritze" Trzebiatowski joined the band in October 1986.
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 record label 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; however, the album would not enter the German album charts until 28 years after its release. Continuing the Terrible Certainty formula while showing the band still progressing musically, and with better production by the well-regarded Randy Burns (also Megadeth, Possessed, Nuclear Assault, Death, Dark Angel, among others), the album featured the band's first major singles and music videos, the title track and "Betrayer", becoming major hits on MTV's Headbangers Ball. They toured North America with Coroner and Suicidal Tendencies, which greatly expanded their popularity outside of Europe.
Also 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 band's 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 band member. 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 GUN 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, 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 lead 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 begun 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. On 1 June 2012, they released their thirteenth studio album, titled Phantom Antichrist. Kreator co-headlined a 23 date North American tour that fall with Nuclear Blast labelmates Accept. Entitled the Teutonic Terror Attack 2012 Tour, they were supported by Finland's Swallow the Sun. Kreator performed alongside Suidakra in Bangalore on 16 June 2012.
In a November 2013 interview, Mille Petrozza stated that Kreator would begin work on their fourteenth studio album after the Phantom Antichrist tour for a 2016 release. However, Petrozza said that the album would not be released until 2017. On 30 August that year, they released a two-disc live album called Dying Alive. It contained 24 tracks recorded at Turbinehalle in Oberhausen, Germany. On 14 October 2016, it was announced that Kreator's fourteenth studio album would be called Gods of Violence, and it was released on 27 January 2017. A music video for the album's title track was released on November 18, 2016.Gods of Violence received generally positive reviews, and was their first album to reach number one on the German charts. To promote the album, Kreator embarked on a headlining European tour in February and March 2017, with support from Sepultura, Soilwork and Aborted, and co-headlined the Decibel Magazine tour with Obituary in March and April. In late April, the band announced an Australian tour with Vader, which took place in September. They embarked on two tours in 2018: one in Europe with Decapitated and Dagoba in January, followed by a co-headlining U.S. tour with Sabaton in February and March.
About three months after the release of Gods of Violence, Petrozza mentioned a follow-up album, saying, "Maybe we should work with a different producer. Maybe we should go to a different country to record the album. Maybe we should write a more metal or more full-on thrash metal. Whatever we feel, first and foremost, that is the most important thing. Time will tell." In a September 2017 interview with Australia's Silver Tiger Media, Petrozza stated that Kreator will do another album after Gods of Violence but "not yet." When asked in February 2018 about the band's future, Petrozza said, "I think we're gonna take next year off and write a new record. That's the plan at least. We'll see what happens. I don't put myself under pressure. Let's see how I feel after this tour, and if I have ideas for new music, I will book a studio and start working on demos as soon as I have the time. And then I'll come up with some new stuff." He told Guitar Interactive magazine in July 2018 that Kreator will take 2019 off to focus on writing the new album, which is planned for release in the summer of 2020.