The Teutonic apocalypse comes to London.
Perhaps the only subject more interesting than headlining act making major waves while on tour is the history of the venues where this occurs, and few places inspire such inquiries to the same degree as London’s The Roundhouse. Originally constructed in 1846 as a turntable engine shed for the London and Birmingham Railway, by the mid-20th century it had become an important performing arts and concert hall that would be a favorite venue for such iconic bands and artists as Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones and Motörhead. Suffice it to say, such a location is a prime outlet for one of Germany’s most ferocious purveyors of thrash metal to record their first live album following 2017’s “Live Antichrist” release. Relative to said release, Kreator’s latest foray into neck-ruining mayhem outside of the recording studio dubbed “London Apocalypticon – Live At The Roundhouse” ups the epic factor something fierce while sparing no expense in the aggression department.
Though Kreator has had something of a competition going with Sodom over who is truly the most extreme member of the Teutonic Big Four, it’s difficult to truly compare the degree of intensity on display when the former takes the stage. Bearing perhaps the greatest resemblance to Slayer’s and Possessed’s quasi-death metal character and arguably outshining both in terms of modernizing their sound with the advent of the new millennium, it goes without saying that the set list would prove fierce enough to blow the roof clear off the building hosting such an event. And in keeping with their largely consistent qualitative output over their near 4 decade career, this quartet makes a good show of representing every era contained in their past; from the early speed/thrashing mayhem of their seminal mid-80s studio work to their more melodic death metal-infused present day sound, taking some additional time to explore the tech thrashing days of the early 90s and the slower vibes that came in by the middle of said decade.
Structurally speaking, this performance seems almost like an elaborate dinner theater event, complete with all the obligatory breaks between acts to give the audience time to recuperate and reflect upon what they’ve experienced. Much of this is accomplished through the strategic use of multiple shorter instrumental intros such as “The Patriarch” off of “Violent Revolution” and “Mars Mantra” off “Phantom Antichrist”, both of which are followed by the riveting title tracks of said albums. Likewise, several moments are taken for improvised transitional material such as an extended intro to “Gods Of Violence” song “Fallen Brother” where vocalist Mille Petrozza takes the opportunity to both rev up the crowd and give a shout out to the ghosts of Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell, underscoring one of those spontaneous moments that is utterly impossible to fully comprehend without having been physically present, but makes a grand addition to a collection of fine performances.
But for all the interesting structural devices that have been placed into this concert to accommodate the human nature of the audience, the driving force behind this entire endeavor is a high octane array of inhuman thrash anthems to shake the pillars of the very earth itself. As with any old school thrash metal outfit, the highlights are largely relegated to the faster material of the early days in “Awakening Of The Gods”, “Flag Of Hate” and “Pleasure To Kill”, time-warping all who hear them back to the thrash heyday of the mid-80s with the band itself sounding much clearer yet also not a day older. Nevertheless, the more musically nuanced and measured character of tech thrash throwback to “Coma Of Souls” in “People Of The Lie” and an array of brutal newer entries like “Satan Is Real” and “Hail To The Hordes” cut with almost the same degree of fervor as the seminal anthems. Even the understated entry from the mid-90s groove/thrash era “Phobia”, a token live favorite of this band’s from said era, makes a respectable racket and fails to drag down a highly animated performance.
It is nothing short of amazing that in spite of a long career of punishing themselves on the road and the lion’s share of this fold either flirting with or surpassing the 50 year old mark, they’ve sound like they haven’t aged a day since “Endless Pain” first put the Bay Area thrash scene on notice that it had competition on the eastern side of the Atlantic. It’s also a rather interesting coincidence that the very venue where this event took place was repurposed as a concert hall about the same number of years ago as the average age of this outfit’s current lineup. There are no slouches to speak of here, including longtime and now former bassist Christian Giesler, who proves that a musician can spend the majority of his time in a purely support role while still being able to punch through the arrangement and make it even more massive sounding live than many bands accomplish with an array of modern studio tricks. The Roundhouse may no longer house trains, but a massive Teutonic engine just plowed its way through without the need of any laid tracks.
Released by: Nuclear Blast
Released Date: February 14th, 2020
Genre: Thrash / Speed Metal
- Miland “Mille” Petrozza / Vocals, Guitar
- Sami Yli-Sirniö / Guitar
- Christian Giesler / Bass
- Ventor / Drums
“London Apocalypticon: Live At The Roundhouse” Track-listing:
1. The Four Horsemen/Choir Of The Damned
2. Enemy Of God
3. Hail To The Hordes
4. Awakening Of The Gods
5. People Of The Lie
6. Gods Of Violence
7. Satan Is Real
8. Mars Mantra
9. Phantom Antichrist
10. Fallen Brother
11. Flag Of Hate
13. Hordes Of Chaos
14. The Patriarch
15. Violent Revolution
16. Pleasure To Kill
Centuries after the Saxons invaded the shores of southern England, one of Germany’s most formidable folds of extreme thrashing warriors set the air of London ablaze with a fiery rendition of new and old