Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Kreator - Hate über alles (2022)

Kreator's another of our enduring, legendary thrash metal bands that took a few lumps during more their experimental self-exploration phase, which usually comes around a decade after their ascent through a slew of thrashing masterworks. All things considered, though, it was never really that bad...Cause for Conflict felt mediocre, although well within their realm of typical aggression, and Endorama's moody, melancholic tinge of Goth rock influence wasn't a total disaster. Their other, more industrial-driven records like Outcast and Renewal ranged from good to great for me, however. I bring this up, because the first track I heard off this latest album, "Strongest of the Strong", featured an interesting use of tasteful female vocals that led me to believe that they'd forayed off into a new direction...and not an unpleasant one.

But it turns out that particular song is an exception here, because this is just a heavy as fuck Teutonic thrashing which put my neck and numerous other limbs in braces. Don't get me wrong, this is richly produced, mature, modern Kreator, more atmospheric than their 80s classics, but it hits like a ton of bricks with some of the fastest pure riffing the band has ever manifest. All of the decades behind them have structured and informed this record, and the only real modernization is a matter of production and tighter musicianship. You've got the utter savagery of your Pleasure to Kill or Terrible Certainty filtered through the more melodic works of recent years like Phantom Antichrist, and then a few refreshing elements like the guest vocals above, which work amazingly well, like a shade hovering above the lightning tremolo picked riffs. Mille's raving bark sounds just as rich as you'd hope, and it still shocks me how the 'Big Four' German thrash frontmen (Mille, Schmier, Gerre and Tom) are still at the top of their game after all these years. This guy is 55 fucking years's astonishing.

He's not the only shining star here, because Ventor still has his hustle behind the kit, and Sami's interplay with Mille's guitars provides a number of ecstatic, melodic moments that really help contrast and balance out the pure ferocity that the band are meting out on the lower end. These tracks sound like 30 years of evolution stacked on top of the ambition they showed with records like Terrible Certainty or Coma of Souls, and while individual riffs might not come across as distinctly catchy, or the chorus parts as obvious, Hate über alles has a lot to unpack, and all of it good. When I see people complaining about this modern Kreator, I have to wonder what they are even thinking. What more could you expect than this?!? It's advanced and interesting, moody and atmospheric, and STILL has the hostile undercurrent the group created in their youths. It's not full of hits that will challenge the Germans' Golden Oldies, you've still got your "Flag of Hate" and "Riot of Violence" available whenever you want to hear them, but they've used all of their experience to produce records with a lot of depth that will forever retain me as a card-carrying fan until I'm wormfood. Stellar record, my fave from them in over a decade.

Verdict: Win [8.75/10]

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