When Kreator headlined Bloodstock for the first time last summer, many people seemed surprised by how effortlessly they conquered such a big occasion. In reality, the Germans have been in imperious form for the entirety of this century, and their stature and popularity have steadily grown as a result.
As that Bloodstock set proved, Kreator are serious heavyweights with a ridiculous number of unstoppable metal anthems. From seminal early bursts of primitive chaos like Flag Of Hate and Pleasure To Kill through to the razor-sharp sophistication of recent crowd-pleasers Satan Is Real and 666 – World Divided, frontman Mille Petrozza has always been a great songwriter, with an intuitive sense of what works. The fact that he is also one of metal’s certified good guys, albeit one armed with a deathless screech that would scythe through any stupor, is an added bonus.
With all that in mind, Hate Über Alles feels like an important milestone, despite being Kreator’s 15th studio record. Well-established as one of Europe’s biggest bands, the quartet could easily tread water and get away with it. But from the laugh-out-loud intensity of its title track onwards, Hate Über Alles absolutely screams commitment to the cause and to the noble yet visceral art of heavy metal songwriting.
That title track is the perfect starting point. With its ferocious thrash gait and a gargantuan scream-along chorus, it’s a perfect encapsulation of Kreator’s ageless powers. Just in case anyone remains unconvinced, Killer Of Jesus (again, Mille gives great title) repeats the trick, delivering another exhilarating extreme metal assault with at least two colossal hooks.
Kreator are on top form at mid-pace, too; both Crush The Tyrants and Strongest Of The Strong strike a sublime balance between nails-hard heaviness and melodic finesse, with perennially underrated guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö delivering a particular jaw-dropping solo on the latter. As if to prove how malleable his band’s sound continues to be, Mille revels in old-school nostalgia on the Priest-like Become Immortal, before delivering the mother of all thrash mini-symphonies on Conquer And Destroy. With ethereal female vocals, syncopated, tech-death precision and yet another giant chorus, Midnight Sun is an instant classic. Demonic Future is every bit as sinister, savage and smart as its title suggests.
Another sign that Kreator are feeling invincible, Mille’s clean vocals on the otherwise monstrous and haunting Pride Comes Before The Fall are a gentle revelation. Finally, the epic cautionary tale of Dying Planet tells us everything we need to know about how fucking pissed off Mille is with the state of the world right now. Closer to symphonic black metal than traditional thrash, it’s the perfect, pitch-black conclusion to an album created in the midst of global chaos.
One intro, 10 genuinely fantastic songs, absolutely no fucking about. They may have nothing to prove after nearly four decades of active service but Hate Über Alles proves it anyway. When it comes to hitting the heavy metal nail on the head with maximum conviction, Kreator are firmly top of the bill.