Home > Music > Kreator – Terrible Certainty (1987)

Kreator – Terrible Certainty (1987)

folderI used to be… terribly certain about the relative merits of Kreator’s albums. Nowadays, I’m not so sure, although a few trends still seem pretty apparent – a certain neutering after 1988, a brief period of particular career dissonance, a dim echo of a glorious past in the 21st century, and so forth. Terrible Certainty seems like it should be the high point of the band’s career, effortlessly merging a new and vital riffing style into the nasty, brutish speed-thrash of previous albums. But as you probably guessed from the phrasing, I have my reservations.

Terrible Certainty, to its credit, seems to have different problems than future Kreator albums, things of the sort you might expect to arise from a band executing similar types of stylistic shifts. The production comes to mind – on first listen, it might seem a good match for the absolute fuckfest (There go the small children; they shouldn’t be here anyways) that Pleasure to Kill was gifted with. Its main flaw is that it lacks much of the bass that its predecessor had. Oddly enough, I miss this aspect most in the drums, which lost out on some crucial reverb. The end result is that Terrible Certainty is drier and treblier than its predecessor, as if the producer tried to reproduce its results but for whatever reason failed. We’ve also lost out on the occasional extended songwriting of the oldest school Kreator albums. Those extended songs were sometimes a bit clunky, but they were endearing, and more importantly, they worked because Kreator was versatile enough to incorporate a lot of varied musical ideas into even their most hamfisted and simplistic songs.

What virtues this album does have are probably a result of that last point. I’ve written much of Kreator’s signature riff style (consonant major keys interval arranged in dissonant, even atonal patterns), so it pains me how quickly they abandoned it after two albums. It made for stern competition to contemporaries like Destruction. Lucky for us that it’s so prevalent here! Combine the band’s previously documented ability to vary up their musical language with a technique that’s conducive to such, and you have an easy recipe for successful metal songwriting. While it’s not particularly ambitious on this album, it has its moments of particular effectiveness from the band’s understanding of dynamics (mostly driven by the vocals and drums, thanks to Ventor, and the occasional chaotic solo) and the overall quality riffwork on display. Terrible Certainty, in particular, has oddly effective and distinctive bridges; the blasting of “Blind Faith” or the breakdown of “Toxic Trace” come to mind. Still, you’d wish Kreator put more riffs in their songs, but at least the ones that are there are memorable and benefit from the signature style.

In writing this, I learned that it’s kind of hard to be hard on this album, because I enjoy what it does right so much. This has happened to me before with different albums, and you’ve probably read reviews here where I was so blinded by my love of one part of an album that I let its failings pass. It certainly holds up better than Extreme Aggression, which ironically dials back the aggression quite a bit.

Highlights: “Storming with Menace”, “Toxic Trace”, “One Of Us”

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