Recorded at Eldorado and Image Studios. Produced by Randy Burns. Engineered by Randy Burns, Steve Heinke, and Jason Roberts. Mixed by Randy Burns and Steve Heinke, July–August, 1990 at Music Grinder, Hollywood, California, United States. Artwork by Andreas Marschall. Executive produced by Karl-U Walterbach.
Like many people my age I probably first became aware of Kreator during the late 80s listening to Tommy Vance (which I always thought was spelled ‘Vantz’ in a metal, spikey kind of way) on the Friday Rock Show.
But it wasn’t until this album, released in 1990, that I first bought (on cassette) my first album of theirs. Coma of Souls is their fifth studio album, and one of only four that I own; they have now released 13. I really need to get my act together!
The opening track ‘When the sun burns red’ encapsulates a lot of what I loved about thrash metal in the late-80s/early-90s (and still do): progy introductions, acoustic guitars teamed with screaming electric guitar solos, reverb-laden vocals, and that scooped metal crunch made most famous perhaps by Metallica’s …And Justice for All (1988). This album sits alongside Sepultura’s Arise (1991) for me as near-perfect examples of early-90s thrash albums.
This track features cannons! How metal is that?
Next up, ‘Coma of souls’ opens with a fabulously simple riff played on one guitar. Four bars later the second guitar joins in, and before long Mille starts spitting his lyrics.
Track three, ‘People of the lie’. I remember as a kid listening to these lyrics (and not just these lyrics, but all metal lyrics) and they opened up new worlds for me, new ways of looking at things, new ways of expressing things.
Don’t look at me as if I didn’t know
Your vanity is all you ever show
What you believe and advocate
Fanatic dogma recycled from yesterday
Got a master plan
People of the lie
As a guitarist—albeit a fairly lapsed one whilst my children are small—I love the guitar sound on this album. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a heavily over-driven tube amp. I could listen to that sound all day. Hey! I usually do! You can hear it really clearly on the song intro on track four, ‘World beyond’.
The bass sound is, much like …And Justice For All, pretty lost in most of the song mixes but it reveals itself on the intro to track 9 ‘Hidden dictator’. And a welcome revelation it is.
It is impossible for me to listen to this album afresh. It is too entangled in my history. It has seen me through too many late nights pouring over essays at university, or walking the streets of London in the late-90s.
This is for me a timeless album, a fabulously creative collection of thrash: not just mindless, tuneless exercises in white noise but songs that reveal depth and variety and melody and emotion and windows into new perspectives. This is a thrash album with a soul. And I love it.
Review score: 100%