Kreator – Hate Über Alles


Kreator will always be legends. Along with Sodom and Destruction, the German warriors created the famous Teutonic thrash sound that would go on to inspire black and death metal. Their 1986 classic, Pleasure to Kill, is still influential to this day. 1990’s Coma of Souls showed how thrash could incorporate a prog influence. You could even argue that 1989’s Extreme Aggression beat Carcass to the gates of melodic death metal four years before the Liverpudlian’s put out Heartwork.

Of course, it wasn’t all plain sailing. The 1990s were a lost decade of trying to adapt groove metal and industrial elements into their repertoire. Few give them a second listen in these dark days of irrelevance, but they recovered in the late 2000s. The band’s 2012 and 2017 releases saw them shoot up the European festival circuits. They also achieved a number one album in their home country with their last outing. So, what do they want to achieve with album number fifteen?

Mille Petrozza’s attack on the hypocrisy of organised religion remains an obsession, just as his anxiety about the wellbeing of the planet and his libertarian distrust of centralised power structures inform many of the songs on Hate Über Alles. But these are only secondary concerns. What are the riffs and tempos like? The title track should give you the shot in the arm you demand from a Kreator album. Think Sepultura’s ‘Arise’ with verse parts that take on Slayer’s ‘Ditto Head’ for rapid vocal delivery. You can hear a deliberate onomatopoeia between voice and drumbeats, like on the classic Dark Angel records of the 1980s. The band know this will ignite the pit at the next Wacken festival, but they throw in a whammy-bar extravaganza for the solo in case you doubted their credentials to headline the biggest venues.

It’s clear that Kreator spy an opportunity to take on the European festival slots vacated by Slayer. ‘Crush the Tyrants’ is how you write a chunky stadium metal song with a Queen beat and a mid-tempo Metallica thrust. ‘Strongest of the Strong’ might owe royalties to the Manowar sound of the early 2000s. Pleasure to Kill, Part II this is not. Should you cringe or raise a triumphant fist in the air for the shameless heavy metal posturing of ‘Become Immortal’? Mmm… Repeat listens are easier to handle, but the “woe-oh-oh” gang harmonies belong in a skater punk album. Destruction frontman, Schmier, could well have his head in his hands listening to this, but he could also love the lost idealism of the lyrics.

You can let the tongue-in-cheek clichés spoil your listening experience, but Kreator deserve your appeasement. Hate Über Alles gets better – not worse – as you progress through the record. How do they end the affair with such a strong run of songs from track eight to track eleven? German new wave/pop singer, Sofia Portanet, contributes a spell-binding vocal to ‘Midnight Sun’. Check out the high-range riffing at the beginning of this beast – Dave Mustaine used to execute these types of rhythms back in 1990. ‘Pride Comes Before the Fall’ is a clear case of risk-taking, with Mille exploring a foreboding folk voice before the quartet launch into a head-banging frenzy.

Closing track, ‘Dying Planet’, reminds you why Kreator are survivors and innovators. The slower mid-tempo riffs and double-kick grooves give this song a dramatic feel. You can also hear a channel of death metal among the chunky guitar output. The Germans might be happy to go back to their NWOBHM influences, but they’re not immune to the contemporary scene, either.

Hate Über Alles has its flaws, but it won’t destroy Kreator’s legacy as one of the greats of thrash metal. Only a fool would ignore them on the festival bill in 2022.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 10/06/2022

Record Label: Nuclear Blast

Standout tracks: Hate Über Alles, Midnight Sun, Dying Planet

Suggested Further Listening: Warfect – Spectre of Devastation (2020), Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss (1990), Toxic Ruin – Nightmare Eclipse (2021)