Review Summary: When violence is the (only) answer.
It's hard not to dive into superlative clichés when talking about Teutonic powerhouse Kreator. Their impact on the European thrash scene of the 1980s and legacy left to subsequent generations is unparalleled in the old continent, placing them on a prominent spot in Heavy Metal’s Olympus. Albums such as Pleasure to Kill
, Extreme Aggression
or Coma of Souls
not only remain iconic references of the genre but also mirror the spirit of an era when Euro bands like Sodom, Destruction, Tankard or Coroner rivaled the mighty American armada that was taking the world by storm at the time. And although Petrozza & the boys have lost some steam since their experimental 1992 foray - Renewal
, they kept moving forward, wandering into more adventurous (yet uninspired) territory over the nineties to later return to their roots, albeit with somewhat more melodic nuances. Be that as it may, the lads' perseverance has been paying off as most of their following are still on board, making Kreator one of today's most successful veteran thrash bands outside the Big Four.
As with all albums of the genre, particularly those by old-school acts, I waited for Kreator's fifteenth full-length with moderate expectations, as, with a few rare exceptions, these old dogs can no longer surprise me. It's all been done, redone, and tried out, so it all boils down to the entertainment value that each band or release can offer me; and when it comes to Kreator, the heavier the better. Mille Petrozza's musical and vocal peculiarities advise a focus on aggression, or at least that it be a paramount layer, even when surrounded by melody. Petrozza was never a gifted singer, so one must be careful not to take a step longer than the leg. A common mistake, when you fail to (or choose not to) acknowledge your own artistic limitations. In this sense, the title track and 'Killer of Jesus' are where the band shows its truest, most genuine colors, alongside the speed metal(ish) 'Demonic Future' that somehow reminds me of vintage European underground acts such as Mandator or Apocalypse. While it might seem a bit reductive, Hate Über Alles
spreads its wings when it stays simple, closer to its straightforward thrash roots. The title track's imposing yet catchy chorus or 'Killer of Jesus'' ferocious verse are among the finest examples of a successful formula that should have been replicated more often. I certainly understand the aim to diversify and enrich the sound palette, it’s a desirable aspiration, yet I don't think, for example, that 'Become Immortal's' Running Wild-esque approach or the gothic-ish 'Midnight Sun', despite their virtues, add quality to the whole. They do indeed diversify but provide no real value to Hate Über Alles
, as do the uninspired choruses of 'Crush the Tyrants', 'Conquer and Destroy' or 'Dying Planet', which even exude some creative mediocrity. Polychromy isn't necessarily synonymous with artistic richness or multidimensionality. Nevertheless, despite its ups and downs, Hate Über Alles
does not fail to entertain, if only for being what it is - an echo of times past that keeps us connected to one of the most iconic entities the genre has ever offered. The introductory homage to Sergio Corbucci is also worth mentioning since it lends an unexpected but pleasant cinematic tone to the album's overture while adding an extra European flavor to the mix. And some geographical context, when genuine, enhances any artistic expression.
At this point, we have to ask ourselves what to expect from Mille, Ventor & Co. Some kind of Extreme Aggression
or Coma of Souls
2.0? And if that were to happen, would it be truly authentic? Expectations surrounding historic bands are almost always a double-edged sword; while on the one hand we yearn to capture a bygone era, on the other, we seek a degree of freshness that might lend relevance and entertainment value to the music. Hate Über Alles
lies somewhere in the middle, swinging between good, average, and even mediocre territory, failing to fully embody either its title or vicious artwork. Because sometimes, violence is the (only) answer or at least stands as the most fitting output for some legendary Teutonic squads.