Kreator – Hate Über Alles (Album Review)

Kreator – Hate Über Alles
Released June 10, 2022

Line Up:

Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza // Guitars, Vocals
Sami Yli-Sirniö // Guitars
Frédéric Leclercq // Bass
Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil // Drums

Online:

Official Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

A little disclaimer to start – I love thrash metal. While the Big 4 rightly get the lion’s share of applause for their sizable commercial achievements, the best to-the-grind, ear-splitting thrash comes from other bands. Straight up, German legends Kreator released two of the definitive thrash records in the mid-80s: Endless Pain and Pleasure to Kill. However, like all the great 80s bands, Kreator went a little experimental in the 1990s before returning to prominence with an unholy trio of records starting with Hordes of Chaos, peaking with the phenomenal Phantom Antichrist and the commercially successful Gods of Violence. Forget Hardwired and Repentless, Phantom Antichrist is a seriously outstanding album combining old-school speed metal riff fests with modern production (and none of the silly ‘loudness’ stuff that ruined Death Magnetic). Why am I starting with this history lesson? Because any new Kreator album has a lot to live up to in my eyes, both as a legacy act and one of metal’s great bands still cranking out records. It’s through that lens that I approach their new one – Hate Über Alles.

As far as intro tracks go, ‘Sergio Corbucci Is Dead’ is fine. It’s a minute-long tribute to film director Sergio Corbucci in the style of Ennio Morricone (Italian western film composer extraordinaire). It’s lovely but unexpected in that it isn’t heavy at all. Fortunately, the first single ‘Hate Über Alles’ is here to kick ass. Mille Petrozza sounds friggin’ amazing on vocals, having lost little of his bite. It’s loud and aggressive, with the title translating to “Hate Above All”, it depicts a world gone mad and full of anger. Riff wise there’s no doubt Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirniö are firing on all cylinders. There’s definitely a sense of community through the lyrics on the record, with several songs drawing the audience in with “us” or “we”. ‘Killer of Jesus’ is fast too, with gang vocals adding to the feeling of unity one feels when thrashing in a pit. The blasphemy doesn’t hurt either. ‘Crush the Tyrants’ has a pretty nifty drum and rhythm intro before dropping into a heavy groove built for a slower kind of headbang. The refrain is easy to pick up: “Us against You, for life.” It’s arguably a bit more power metal with the solos really taking advantage of the slower tempo.

So far so good? We’ve had some genuinely great speed metal songs and a decent enough thumper. Second single ‘Strongest of the Strong’ is another good song. The riff is fine, quite an 80s kind of rhythm with Petrozza barking. It’s “just good” though, and lacks the fired-up flair of the opening tracks and repeats similar gang vocals of ‘Killer of Jesus’. It’s a tough guy song, for damn sure, but feels a bit too obvious and safe. ‘Become Immortal’ fares much better with a drum beat straight out of Iron Maiden’s ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and a classic metal vibe overall. Great chorus with lyrics capturing the band’s inception and development to immortal thrash gods. New guy Frédéric Leclercq gets a little bass solo too before operatic choral vocals join in. Fifteen albums in and it’s cool they’ll try some different things.

‘Conquer and Destroy’ continues the refreshed approach with a melodic guitar harmony that leads into a breakneck series of thrash riffs. The solos squeal at just the right time and the lead harmonies are killer. Hang on – what the hell is this? Clean vocals? Mille what are you doing? Yep there’s a bridge with a vocal harmony to match the guitars while Mille screeches over it. Not sure how I feel about this, it feels unnecessary in what was already a great song. Gnarly closing riff though. 

Turns out the brief inclusion of different vocals was just a warm up for the first Kreator track with female vocals. ‘Midnight Sun’ has already been a bit divisive amongst fans with Sofia Portanet adding vocals to the bridge and chorus. Putting that aside for a moment, the song is fairly standard fare for the band with a series of riffs that are fast on the verses and slower on the chorus. Portanet’s addition does make the track stand out otherwise, and no surprise it’s been a single already since her contribution does add accessibility and might just help attract new fans. As Petrozza has pointed out, they like to find a “new focus with the same sound, coming at our music from a slightly different angle.” It’s memorable for sure, maybe not as hooky as it could have been, but tells a cool story and feels right for this album. It’s pretty clear though that they aren’t compelled to just play fast for every song on this one.

Fear not though, there’s plenty of high octane drumming and triple picking on songs like ‘Demonic Future’, a track that could have appeared on any of the last couple of albums. ‘Pride Comes Before the Fall’ seems like it will go in a different direction again but, after a haunting lullabye infused opening, gets down to the business of smashing things. The slower section is very atmospheric with spoken word vocals that unfortunately don’t stay long enough. It’s a tune well on its way to being epic before it ends without the fanfare it arrived with. The closing track ‘Dying Planet’ actually delivers on this potential. Co-written by Leclercq, it is brooding and violent, showing that brutality isn’t always about playing fast. It’s got a really gothic sense of melody. It reaches a furious apex with a blast of black metal-styled riffing before abruptly transitioning to a slower section with more spoken word vocals. It’s bordering on prog and fairly different to their classic material but I dig it. It finishes with acoustic guitar and synths as the world ends. 

This is a tough one to rate. At its best, Hate Über Alles is classic post-2010 Kreator with high octane, punishing thrash. I’ll have these tracks on repeat for the rest of the year. They have matured since their heyday and added a few different elements to their sound, some of which hit really well on this record. It’s hard for a band with such pedigree to write their best album as they approach 40 years since their debut. Whilst the new elements show growth, these are bogged down by some of the more ho-hum songs. Newer fans will probably appreciate the experimentation more, as it isn’t an overall reflection of how savage and uncompromising Kreator can be. That said, it’s a solid thrash album for die-hards, though won’t disrupt your ranking of the top 5 Kreator albums.  

Kreator – Hate Über Alles tracklisting:

1. Sergio Corbucci Is Dead
2. Hate Über Alles
3. Killer Of Jesus
4. Crush The Tyrants
5. Strongest Of The Strong
6. Become Immortal
7. Conquer And Destroy
8. Midnight Sun
9. Demonic Future
10. Pride Comes Before The Fall
11. Dying Planet 

Rating: 7 / 10
Hate Über Alles is out Friday on Nuclear Blast Records. Pre Order here
Review by KJ Draven (Twitter and Instagram

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