|4.5 (1 votes):|
One fascinating aspect that made many thrash metal bands great was their ability to evolve within a style that clearly has its limits. Sodom started with their outbreak of evil, cleaned up their act by the time they became a proper thrash metal band, before taking things up a notch with their raging inferno of Tapping the Vein. Kreator, too, were no strangers to approaching thrash from different angles and in 1990, they would deliver their most melodic and harmonious album by far.
Coma of Souls points out several disastrous events and dangers of humanity, yet the lyrical themes never overshadow the musical qualities that we’re dealing with. Arguably hotter than Extreme Aggression, Coma of Souls marks a return to the high-quality riffs that made Kreator’s earlier works so memorable, but that’s not all there is. You’ll stumble upon expanded and sometimes harmonized guitar leads that won’t forget anytime soon and ‘Hidden Dictator’ makes an excellent example. Whereas the first solo goes by like a raging inferno, the second one slowly squeals in a sexy manner. I’m a sucker for note-worthy guitar solos and that’s one aspect that makes Coma of Souls stand out. Still, this isn’t a one role-only record where the leads overpower everything else. The acoustic guitars highlight the gloomy mood of ‘When the Sun Burns Red’ (probably not a song about getting sun burned while visiting the beach, but what do I know?) and quickly leads to a berserk chorus. Mille sounds in top form here and demonstrates his last great vocal performance, while the riffs around him could surely make one’s head sweaty once you’ll play this track loudly enough! ‘Agents of Brutality’ features some slow-burning chords that cut next to Mille’s howl of terror, before an adventurous ride begins. Seriously, with verses this thrilling, a scream-worthy chorus and a guitar solo that’s memorable note for note, what’s not to like about this tune?
It’s far from perfect, but even so, the lowlights are by far less embarrassing than those of Extreme Aggression. ‘People of the Lie’ is undeniably catchy and could have been a hit to my ears and yet, it sounds a bit too safe for my taste. With some verses that are hardly overpowering to begin with, I could have done with more riff-worthy chorus instead of a sing-along kind of chorus where the guitars aren’t doing too much. ‘Terror Zone’ takes you back to the atmospheric side of the record; as it introduces a morose landscape of doom and gloom with its minor-driven guitars. Unfortunately, the tune doesn’t flow as well as it should; meaning that some of the slower riffs prevent the track from building momentum and even though I generally enjoy it when thrash metal bands slow down, it doesn’t work in this case. Presenting something way different, ‘World Beyond’ is a brief, yet determined offering that should be great on paper and yet, I can’t help but think it sounds somewhat rushed. It’s the only track without any redeeming values whatsoever, but given its short runtime, that’s not too much of an issue.
As funny as it may sound, certain highlights resemble some of the lesser exciting tracks on the record; they just seem to be executed far better. ‘Material World Paranoia’ reminds me of ‘Terror Zone’ and demonstrates some forceful leads taking action, before taking you on a mindful journey of thoughtful riffs that only a thrash metal fan would encounter in his/her wildest dreams. ‘Twisted Urges’ does what ‘World Beyond’ tried to do far better, even if some of the riffs in store aren’t necessarily reminiscent of Kreator. It promises some clinical thrash/death mayhem àla Pestilence circa Malleus Maleficarum at the start and that Sepultura-esque riff at 1:45 sounds surprisingly unexpected, if savage; like a raging bull that’s determined to wipe your ass in the most painful manner imaginable.
Coma of Souls is arguably Kreator’s last great record and I wish they had kept on going in this style instead. The experimentation that followed has never excited me too much and I can’t say that the band’s Gothenburg branch of thrash works in my book, either. It’s rather unfortunate, but you know how the saying goes; all good things come to an end.
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