Review Summary: Yup. This definitely should have never been Kreated.
I’ll be the first person to tell you that despite my love for heavy music, I’m not a huge thrash metal guy. That said, there are many thrash bands such as Testament and Slayer who I hold in very high regard, and Kreator is at the top of that list. Their discography, as most of you probably know, is full of classics such as Pleasure to Kill and Coma of Souls, and with their albums from Violent Revolution onward, it seems as though Kreator have only gotten better with time. Despite this, I’ve been informed for some time now that between Coma of Souls and Violent Revolution, there exists somewhat of a valley in Kreator’s otherwise consistently fantastic discography, and with so many other albums demanding my attention in recent times, I simply put off listening to these few releases.
Well, the day of judgement for Kreator’s infamous mid-period came recently, and I figured that the best place to jump in would be the first album in this cycle of releases, the aptly-titled Renewal. After giving it a listen, all I can say is that if this is what the other three mid-period Kreator albums sound like, then Kreator is losing points for consistency from me pretty quickly.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a big thrash metal guy, and there are a few reasons for that. Overall, it’s very erratic, vitriolic, and often a bit too bombastic and overbearing for me to take seriously. While I can say this about a lot of thrash, one word I have never found myself using to describe the genre is “boring.” Thrash metal may sometimes be a bit juvenile and outright stupid, but even the most obnoxious and utterly laughable thrash bands I can think of are admittedly entertaining to listen to, even if just due to their lack of quality. Renewal is sort of a landmark listening listening experience for me in that it broke down a major barrier. After hearing this album, I can officially say that for the first time, I was completely bored by a thrash album, and even worse, I was bored by a KREATOR album.
Me being bored by this album makes quite a bit of sense actually, because the music on this album is a very uncharacteristically boring brand of thrash, especially for Kreator. Neither the breakneck-fast heaviness of Kreator’s early material nor the powerful melodic riffs of their later releases is present here, and its place has been taken by a sort of watered-down, semi-alt-metal type of thrash that somehow manages to be both extremely bad and uninteresting. I’ve heard some people even describe this album as “industrial,” however I don’t think turning up the snare so loud in the mix that Lars Ulrich would be amazed and writing the most uninspired, emotionless riffs you can possibly write and still be considered “metal” qualifies as industrial. What this album lacks in personality it makes up for with loudness in the drum department, or at least that is what it seems like, because there is no excuse for the annoying, echo-y drum sound that plagues this album.
For a band literally called Kreator, the lack of creativity here is baffling. The entire band sounds lethargic throughout the album’s runtime, and by about the 10th minute of this, trust me, you’ll be lethargic and uninterested too. If you aren’t then don’t worry. The other 30 minutes will definitely do the trick if you have the willpower to endure them. This was honestly a very difficult album to write about, because there are only so many intelligible ways to say that something is unteresting and boring. I remember when I listened to Violent Revolution for the first time, and I also remember that after listening to it once, I had to listen again because there were so many great moments and fantastic melodies and riffs that I just had to hear it all again. I listened to this album not once but twice, and I still can’t tell you how a single song on this album goes or anything notable that I heard after wasting those 80 minutes of my life. Absolutely NOTHING about this album is in any way memorable or worth wasting your time to find.
I can’t find enough words to tell you how much I implore you to stay away from this album. It’s disappointing, it’s uninteresting, it’s a waste of time and money, it’s flatter than my ex-girlfriend’s chest... substitute whatever way to say “it’s not good” you want here, and that is everything you need to know about Renewal by Kreator. I really didn’t want to dislike this album, and I initially only gave it a 2/5 to try and be kind to it, but after writing this and taking a moment to think about how much this album took from me, I just had to bump it down to a 1.5/5. Realistically, it isn’t so fundamentally broken that it deserves a 1; it’s a cohesive album, just not by any means a good one. I really hate to say it but, Kreator greatly disappointed me with Renewal, and the best advice I can give to all of you, out of respect for you and Kreator, is to stay away from this album at all costs.