When several months ago Kreator announced their fifteenth album, “Hate Über Alles”, my thoughts were reasonably focused on the emotion of HATE that the band still communicates, as they approach forty years of existence. Mille’s vitriolic comments about humans’ hypocritical, manipulative societies are -unfortunately- always relevant. As Sodom’s Angelripper says, there are still things around us that make thrash bands write about war and hate. Concerning the musical context, we all knew that things are predestined.
In the last ten years Mille changed the band’s vision, adding heavy metal / melodic elements to Kreator’s classic aggression. Needless to say, his decision was rather controversial. Part of the audience accepted this orientation, new fans were attracted, but others chose to unfollow them. No matter how each one of us perceives thrash issues, the band -admittedly- succeeded in writing two decent and commercially successful albums, with memorable, catchy themes that drew the attention of a wider audience.
Hence, I didn’t expect “Hate Über Alles” to differ from its predecessors, since the recipe until now worked well. Indeed, like in “Phantom Antichrist” and “Gods of Violence”, the album starts with an intro (“Sergio Corbucci Is Dead” could be part of a spaghetti western of the famous Italian director) and soon Kreator unfold their thrashing assault: the self-titled opener and “Killer of Jesus” are up-tempo, storming songs, full of Petrozza’s and Yli-Sirniö’s aggressive riffs and Ventor’s extreme drumming. These are enjoyable thrash moments, that each one of us need from the band.
Apart from the dynamic start that definitely justifies Kreator’s name, the rest of the album is “vaccinated” with classic heavy metal and atmospheres, and that’s the point when problems emerge. Sadly, these elements lack the ability to keep you alert, indicating that some things are unfulfilled or even biased. Of course, exceptions should be mentioned, like the hymnic “Strongest of the Strong” (that’s an absolute hit for the band’s concerts), or “Pride Comes Before the Fall”. However, most songs (like the dull “Crush the Tyrants”, the overstuffed with melodies “Conquer and Destroy”, and the marginally epic and NWOBHM-oriented “Become Immortal”) are rather mundane and puzzled, with weak melodies and refrains, prompting you to press skip.
Another aspect that’s worth mentioning (not for good reason though) is Kreator’s decision to diversify and meddle again with the unknown. In “Midnight Sun”, female vocals are used for the first time, but they don’t match at all with the spirit of the song (on another level, it reminds me of some imitators’ pathetic attempts to reproduce the atmosphere of Limbonic Art’s debut). That’s a representative example of how an unsuccessful addition can destroy an initial idea (it’s a pity, since the main pattern is really good!). As for the closing track, “Dying Planet”, they tried to sound dark and rather progressive, but they couldn’t find a worse way to end the album, since its mediocrity results in a big question mark above our heads. Unluckily, the terms “experimentation” and “Kreator” still don’t coincide.
The listening experience of “Hate Über Alles” left me rather perplexed and unsatisfied. Of course, there are good ideas that indicate what Kreator do in the last decade; but they are just exceptions in an album that lacks the dynamism and energy of previous works. That sense of inequality doesn’t mean that you cannot appreciate the band’s performance and skills: Mille still expresses hatred without fear, the guitar duel is precise and concise, rhythms are familiarly crushing, drumming is hellish and even the new bassist, Frédéric Leclercq, collaborates perfectly with the band. However, their tactic for differentiation “betrayed” and blurred their effort.
Let’s face it: the album cannot grasp fans’ attention for a long time. Even those who are fond of Kreator’s heavy-metallic tendency, sooner or later will return to “Gods of Violence” and “Phantom Antichrist”. As for fans who stopped listening to the band after “Enemy of God”, it’s absolutely sure that they won’t “invest” even a second of their time.
Well, it seems that Mille’s vision stagnated in “Hate Über Alles”; something must be done in this respect. Of course, no one expects that they’ll return to the “Extreme Aggression” era. No matter what happens next, Kreator won’t lose their fanbase or commercial success. They “play” on another level for many years and their value cannot be downgraded due to an unsatisfying album. But we seek something else from them.