KREATOR – Endorama In Philly

April 18, 2017, a month ago

Mark Gromen

gallery heavy metal kreator

No, they're (thankfully) not retiring. A month long trek, with several supporting bands, came to an end at the Theater of the Living Arts (aka TLA), on April 15th. With song titles that read like the city's sports teams mantra: "Extreme Aggression", "Flag Of Hate", "Violent Revolution" (all of which were aired), the German thrash institution is always welcome in Philadelphia. Never one to prattle on incessantly, frontman/guitarist Mille Petrozza opted for pre-recorded intermezzos to give the band an occasional rest, between songs. Occasionally he talked over top, but not excessively.

It would have been a hot night anyway, with all the packed bodies, but with temperatures outside in the low ‘70s during the day and no air conditioning yet (it's still April), it was dripping sweat and uncomfortably humid. My camera lens fogged up before the band went on. The small confines precluded any of the visuals used overseas, where Kreator is typically a festival headliner. Here, the stage show relied almost entirely (for better or worse) on lighting effects. In that regard, it's mostly the Mille Petrozza show, the others only back lit, shrouded in darkness and plumbs of vertically launched, compressed carbon dioxide/stage smoke. Only a few feet away, in the pit, could barely make out facial details. For the initial trio of songs, the predominate color was (photographic unfavorable) red. "Hordes Of Chaos" and bouncy "Phobia" are over almost as quickly as they began. Security scanning the setlists posted at the foot of the stage determined how many tunes had really been played. 

"Satan Is Real", one from the new album, has a repetitive, titular chorus that even if hearing it for the first time, everyone was singing along. Standing center stage, green lights interweaving on him as the focal point, Petrozza introduced the title track, "Gods Of Violence". A multi-colored barrage alternated across the stage, as he and fellow axeman Sami Yli-Sirniö are spotlighted, side-by-side. "People Of The Lie" sees four spotlights, either side of drummer Ventor (and another half dozen overhead) shone in copper, synchronizing movements, up and across the stage. Pinpointed under white lights, from diverse angles, the founder/frontman/guitarist dedicated "Total Death", off the '85 Endless Pain debut, to tonight's crowd. As if to reciprocate the honor, a circle pit emerges, as alternate pulses of white light highlight the off-stage action. The pace is nearly a gallop.

Center stage, mic posed overhead, ala Lemmy, Petrozza delivers his vitriolic sermon (simultaneously thrashing away on the guitar strings) to an unruly congregation, on the eve of Easter. Enter "Phantom Antichrist", his arms outstretched, the lights creating seven X’s in white. Pink is the color for "Fallen Brother", with swathes of white, a few barricade crashers (can't really call them stage divers anymore can we? What with never making the stated target, nor getting to "dive" back into the crowd, as was once the norm) coming to the fore. There's a mini-Wall Of Death, prior to green lit "Enemy Of God".

With Nuclear Blast stablemate (and former touring partner) Overkill's Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (and wife) watching from the balcony, they pulled out the final, double shot from Gods Of Violence, "World War Now" and "Hail To The Hordes", back-to-back. "You've always been with Kreator," began the guitarist. "Through the good time and the bad. Kreator will always be there for you." Cue "Extreme Aggression", with Petrozza and bassist Christian Giesler headbanging, stage right. A mix of reds and blues throughout, it features an extended (by Kreator standards) guitar spotlight, for the mainman. 

The concluding four song run can measure up to any act, beginning with "Violent Revolution" the lead track from their "comeback" (and still underrated) album. The intro begins, with the stage still black, then erupts into a decidedly fan favorite (judging from the reaction). Standing with guitar over shoulder, namesake prop in hand, Petrozza goads the crowd into screaming for "Flag Of Hate", the lyrics practically barked as the stage turns a violent blitzkrieg of strobes. A blue lit "Under The Guillotine" has Ventor threatening to pound a hole in his snare drum, from repeated abuse. A blood red "Pleasure To Kill" sends the faithful home with ringing ears and sore neck: aka happy!

Hail to the Hordes Of Chaos.

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