Creating the magical moment in a band's history can certainly be a blessing. it can also be a curse though. Throughout the history of recorded music, most long term bands have created their "epic moment", and then followed it up (generally unsuccessfully) for the next several decades trying to recapture that moment once again. While I'm sure people will question the band's apex moment, I'll state that ENDLESS PAIN (and specifically the brilliant track "Flag Of Hate") was Kreator's grandest moment. While they have been one of the more excellent thrash bands since then, they never really lived up to that album...until 2009's HORDES OF CHAOS. There was a level of brilliance with that release that most didn't think these guys had anymore. That was the blessing.
Now though, a new album comes along with all the expectation of bettering the brilliance of HORDES OF CHAOS. To keep this short, they didn't do that with PHANTOM ANTICHRIST. While it's a damn good release, PHANTOM ANTICHRIST falls backwards somewhat. Again, not hating this release or anything, but this feels a lot more like VIOLENT REVOLUTION or ENEMY OF GOD than the aforementioned HORDES OF CHAOS. Certainly, it doesn't better any of these mentioned.
The reasons are numerous, but what it really boils down to is the songwriting on PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is fairly one dimensional. There's not a lot of chances taken, and there's literally no chances taken when it comes down expanding the musicianship showcased by the band. The thing that really made HORDES OF CHAOS standout was the brilliant, searing guitar work of Mille Petrozza and Sami Yli-Simio. While the playing is solid here, songs like "Phantom Antichrist" and "The Few, The Proud, The Broken" are pretty much standard fare guitarwise. The same can be said about Petrozza's vocals. He does try some different things on songs like "Your Heaven, My Hell", but for the most part it's the standard screamathon we've come to expect from Petrozza.
Reading this, you would think I'm here to just smash this release, but that couldn't be further from the truth. As a whole, PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is as strong as 90% of their back catalog. Songs like "From Flood Into Fire" or "United In Hate" should fit seemlessly into their live setlist. In short, that's kind of the problem they now have from the expecation set by HORDES OF CHAOS. That material was just better than almost anything they've done to date, making this feel like a bit of a letdown.
PITRIFF RATING - 75/100 - Like this, but don't love it. PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is pretty much a typical Kreator album that lacks the increased creativity and energy of their last effort. Do I recommend it? If you like thrash, then definitely.