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Live Review: Kreator & In Flames @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney

18 February 2024 | 3:30 pm | Mark Hebblewhite

The economics of touring is getting tougher in the current climate, but bills like this not only make it viable to bring international bands out but also leave punters feeling very satisfied.


Kreator (Credit: Hayden Nixon)

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Quick confession time. Swedish metal juggernaut In Flames has not been on my radar for a good…well… couple of decades. If their shift from producing scything Gothenburg melodic death metal to offering up sleek metalcore tunes with huge choruses was a little worrying for me, then their shift to full-on alt-metal meets electronica was a true WTF moment that sent me running fast in the opposite direction.

That said, until tonight, I’d never seen the boys live, and witnessing the power of some of their mid-period material, I finally understood why not everyone had the same visceral reaction I did to their stylistic metamorphosis. The likes of Deliver Us and Everything’s Gone worked really well in a live setting as the band locked into some ferocious grooves. I Am Above, which usually makes me yawn, absolutely radiated with power, with the entire audience jumping up and down as if they were at a Soulfly gig.

On their most recent album, Foregone, In Flames, maybe realising that their last few efforts were approaching car wreck territory, did a bit of a U-turn by returning to their ‘classic sound’. Not surprisingly, the cuts from this LP, Foregone Part 1, The Beginning Of All Things That Will End and State Of Slow Decay, bulldozed through the crowd via their rejuvenated aggressive riffs (and the odd blast beat), with the band rightfully proud of their heralded return to form.

No matter how much revisionism I enter into here however, it was still the O.G. material that satisfied the best. Food For The Gods from the superb Whoracle LP was an absolute masterclass in melodic death metal, and the band’s deep reach into debut LP Lunar Strain via a scintillating Behind Space reminded me just how underrated that record is. Pinball Map, from the Clayman LP, has been a perennial favourite, and the crowd reacted to its crushing power with perhaps the loudest reaction of the night.

Overall, In Flames put on a show that didn’t let up in the slightest. Aided by a pretty flashlight display and a surprisingly engaging frontman in Anders Fridén, the veteran Swedes put on a performance that showed that their path from underground denizens to international festival act was paved through year after year of hard slog. Say what you want about their musical direction over the years, this is an act that has earned their stripes and live at least remains at the top of their game.     

Sixteen-year-old me decided against trying to sneak into an early 90s Kreator show, and I’ve regretted it ever since. Every show I’ve been to during their triumphant noughties return (every record from 2001’s Violent Revolution onwards is a banger) has been a joyous celebration of thrash metal brutality. And tonight was no different.  

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With a back catalogue of approximately 17,000 albums, Mille Petrozza and the boys took a safe route, plucking stone-cold classics from the likes of Pleasure To Kill, Coma Of Souls and Extreme Aggression and paired them with the absolute highlights of their noughties purple patch. So, for the grizzled and bald among us (a fair few of those, if truth be told), we got MTV favourite Betrayer, tech thrash masterpiece People Of The Lie and a deep dive into the band’s proto-black metal phase with Flag Of Hate and an absolutely vicious rendition of Pleasure To Kill. 

Surprisingly, though, it was the more recent (well… relatively speaking) material that proved to be the set highlights. Enemy Of God delivered the first pit of the evening with its storming central riff and melodic sheen, while Hordes Of Chaos sparked just that as the bodies began to fly. Hate Uber Alles conquered despite suffering from the sound gremlins and Phantom Antichrist with its sing-along chorus proved to be another example of how Kreator have avoided becoming yet another legacy thrash act that can only rely on material written nearly 40 years ago.

Unlike In Flames, Kreator didn’t bother with the full light show, instead opting for a towering display of their beloved mascot, Violent Mind – which gave the proceedings a nice sinister edge. Sure, Mille’s canned stage banter might have been a bit cringy, but at this stage in his career, we can forgive him anything, especially given that his voice didn’t falter all set and the band as a whole delivered a flawless performance. 

Kreator are by far the most successful of the German thrash bands and, quite frankly, remain more relevant than most of their American contemporaries. Why? Well, they’ve continued to write engaging and relevant records and then toured them within an inch of their life. And it was this commitment that was on display tonight.

Klash Of The Titans was a smart package. It brought together two beloved bands who represented different generations of heavy metal. That said, each group brought with them their own distinct audience but were close enough stylistically that all fans appreciated the bill as a whole. The economics of touring is getting tougher in the current climate, but bills like this not only make it viable to bring international bands out but also leave punters feeling very satisfied.