Album Title: Hate Über Alles
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of Release: 10 June 2022
After a wait of five years, I can finally review a new album by the band I consider to be my favourite of all of the German thrash scene. One of the ‘big four’, they stand alongside Destruction, Sodom, and Tankard as one of the best thrash metal exports from their homeland, as well as a world leader in their art. These are well deserved accolades in my opinion too because, aside from a period of experimentation in the nineties and noughties that’s probably best left unmentioned, they have consistently delivered some of the strongest thrash metal throughout their 40-year career.
Entitled ‘Hate Über Alles’, this is the band’s fifteenth release and it’s an angry beast. That’s a bit of a daft statement I’ll grant you, because thrash metal is meant to be angry, fuelled by the world’s injustices, and sticking it to ‘the Man’. But even so, and even by Kreator’s standards, my first impression was that the quartet, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza, guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö,,drummer Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil, and newbie bassist Frédéric Leclercq are seriously annoyed. Even the name of the album, which translates to ‘Hate Above All’ screams aggression. Mind you, there’s much to be angry about at the moment, even for a more and more left wing Mille. The pandemic, the war in the Ukraine, the alarming rising cost of living, the ever increasing disconnect and distrust in politicians, gun crime, racism; you name it, it’s there, and it’s all fertile fodder for a band like Kreator.
Importantly though, the quartet back up the anger with some seriously strong and on ‘Hate Über Alles’, beginning with the title track that appears immediately after a strange and unexpected intro piece entitled ‘Sergio Corbucci Is Dead’. The intro, named after an Italian film director, has a hint of Ennio Morricone about it, but lasts less than a minute, and then it’s on to what I’d call the main event. The title track literally blasts out of the speakers with barely contained rage, manifested in huge riffs, a thunderous rhythm section, and Mille’s ubiquitous vocals that begin with a howling wail of rage. Lyrics pelted forth with spite and venom ensue, as do furious lead breaks, rousing solos, and a huge sing-along chorus that it simple but incredibly effective in its infectiousness.
It is a breathless opening, but Kreator have only just begun, with ‘Killer Of Jesus’ following with barely a pause for breath. If anything, the opening riff is even faster than the title track, with the drums of Reil and bass of Leclercq galloping along with frenetic precision alongside. Again, the chorus is deceptively simple but effective, even more catchy than its predecessor in my opinion. I also like the way that there’s time for a slightly slower, groove-led section, with ‘gang’ vocals making an appearance before the lead guitar solo trade-off begins.
It’s when the intro riff to ‘Crush The Tyrants’ kicks off that I fully appreciate the strength and clarity of the production on this record. Taking their collective foot off the accelerator pedal, this track is a stomping behemoth where the chugging riffs crush just about everything in their path. It’s also a dangerous song to play loud whilst driving on the motorway as I have discovered, as the urge to bang your head rather than concentrate on the fast-moving traffic is almost too strong to deny.
If you’re wondering about the Kreator penchant to inject irresistible melody into their bulldozing thrash onslaught, then wonder no longer as ‘Strongest Of The Strong’ enters stage left. After an intro that has a slight Slayer vibe, it’s all about groove and melody, particularly the chorus that’s absolutely huge and catchy as hell. But it’snot just the chorus, as the solos are imbued with melody too, meaning that this is easily one of my favourites on the album. Mind you, it is pushed hard for this accolade by others, including ‘Conquer And Destrroy’ and ‘Midnight Sun’ to name just two.
The former opens with a Mainden-esque quiet melodic harmony intro led by lead guitars, accented by drums and bass. The pace quickens appreciably in the verses, but the gloriously poignant melody returns to form the basis for the chorus, even featuring delicate clean vocals later in the song. The magic for me is in the pronounced juxtaposition between fast-paced aggression and stunning melody, the two combining with real style and power, especially around the key change towards the close that creates a really epic, anthemic feel. The latter features pop singer Sofia Portanet but is a wonderful song regardless thanks to fast staccato riffing and a killer sprawling chorus that delivers a real grower of a melody. Portanet herself though adds another dimension in that her performance injects something very different, almost progressive or avant-garde when she sings solo at the heart of the song within the harsher, more aggressive sections which is a really great touch.
The more I listen, the harder it is to identify a track on ‘Hate Über Alles’ that is either substandard, or that I just don’t like. ‘Demonic Future’ is another catchy beast that rips along at a fair lick, and once again features wailing and gnashing lead guitar solos alongside undeniably memorable melodies. The final song, ‘Dying Planet’ is nearly seven minutes in length, thereby ending the record with a real statement piece, full of dark menace as the stomping riffs return to clobber anything and everything in their sedate path. The atmospheres are also more pronounced, ensuring that ‘Hate Über Alles’ closes in dramatic fashion, albeit no less aggressive and angry than the opening tracks.
It really is hard to fault ‘Hate Über Alles’ when all is said and done, because Kreator have well and truly delivered the goods once again. Power, aggression, venom, and spite collide superbly with expert songwriting, memorable melody, and irresistible catchiness to produce easily one of my favourite thrash records of the past couple of years. Simple as that, really.
The Score of Much Metal: 94%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
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