KREATOR - HATE ÜBER ALLES
IT'S THE FLAG OF HATE, NOT THE BANQUET OF WAFFLING
I recall a conversation with a lad in his 20s who insisted he had gone off Slayer after they released their ancient and now obscure Haunting the Chapel EP in 1984. After that, he maintained, Slayer sold out. He was referencing music that was made years before he was even born. Of course, his opinion was entirely legitimate albeit quite solitary and daft. But fair play to him, it was hardly a thought crime. Yet it highlights how die hard, collector fans of heavy music can be the most fastidious, fussy, anal probes. The types who prefer a band’s less popular releases because of where a single high hat sits in the mix. For all the rebellion and freedom of spirit that is supposedly inherent in the music, it doesn’t half breed some endless, circular, pseudo-academic, nerd-out wittering. There has been more online debate about Paradise Lost releasing two experimental albums over their 30-year career than has been dedicated to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yes, we all like some late-night music debate but this is the genre that, while railing against the mainstream, had furballs over Jason Newstead for once getting a haircut.
Why is this relevant? Because Kreator, the veteran, indominable German thrashers seem to have a particularly dedicated group of online music data scientist commentators who spent a lot of time obsessively ranking their albums by using the most subjective and pernickety set of home-made methodologies. Hate Über Alles has, notably, received some mixed reviews and occasional opprobrium. In fact, their entire 15 album discography spanning almost 40 years has been exhumed online to use as references against which this is measured. 1986 is now a long time ago, but that hasn’t tempered predictable, tut-tutting comparisons with the band’s Pleasure to Kill album from that year when the band were teenagers.
Having said that this album does start with a baffling Western-style introduction. It is a wee bit odd if you really think about it – but I suggest you don’t. It won’t affect your mental health and it didn’t get me writing 500 words…it just passed. It is, in any case, followed by the title track which ripples with angry energy; furiously high-paced with an anthemic, air punching chorus. Mille Petrozza’s vocal delivery has always sounded partly like a demented, violent fraggle but – after all these years - the man still rages full-bloodedly on this record. Similarly, Killer of Jesus, Strongest of the Strong and Become Immortal have big sing-along, rousing choruses that will translate excellently live arenas. They have an unashamedly old-school, triumphal metal and bullet belt vibe but souped up with a serrated angry German thrash spirit. None of this is bad in fact it gets the head banging. This seems to have been a source of irritation for some online critiques of this record, but it will be hard to counter when these tracks are getting crowd traction in the live arena as they undoubtedly will.
What also seems to have got heckles raised among the commentariat is the few experimental curveballs herein. Midnight Sun is different, as it deviates from the puritan thrash template with ghostly metallic female choruses and a dreamier, disturbed vibe. Does this really detract from a modern-era Kreator record? The track differs from the rest of the album but hardly dilutes it, being sandwiched by wrathful high-velocity stomps. This is a band that, at their core, are one of the original genuine thrash acts who – occasionally - experimented over their careers with the likes of Renewal (1992) and Endorama (1999) which caused heavy music critics to have blood pressure problems. If anything, this album lapses a bit with the closer, Dying Planet - a slow, tortured and mildly unexceptional number. Aside from that, it is a pretty hefty Kreator record.
Perhaps the greatest appeal of Kreator is their undeniable sincerity. Despite having never made it as big as they should have been nor as commercially successful as their US cohorts they have an old school genuineness. They still sound incorrigibly angry. Listen to Demonic Future for proof. The band still spill their guts into their albums and nobody can accuse them of churning out potboilers. The musicianship and production, meanwhile, is second to none. While some comparison with previous work is, admittedly, necessary chaining a band to work they created four decades ago when they were teenagers has limited relevance. Kreator are still flying the flag of hate and have plenty gas left in the tank and if you are going to get your knickers in a twist, see if you can find copies of Haunting the Chapel and pieces of the Berlin Wall online and set your flux capacitor to the early 80s.
Hate Über Alles is released via Nuclear Blast.