Latest release: Phantom Antichrist (Nuclear Blast/Riot!)

German thrash gods Kreator are about on unleash their new studio album this month. Phantom Antichrist is the thirteenth album from the forefathers of Teutonic thrash and 2012 marks the thirtieth year of the band since they began as a trio called Tyrant in 1982. Ahead of the release, Loud caught up to frontman Mille Petrozza to explain the album and talk metal.

Mille, I’ve only had a chance to have a listen through the new album once, but I have to say, it’s definitely Kreator.
We didn’t really change much, but we tried to make it exciting. This is our thirteenth album you know. Album number thirteen. And I hope we keep it as exciting as our early stuff. That’s basically our goal when we write a new album: to keep it fresh.

Do you find that difficult to achieve after thirteen albums?
We like to see every album as our debut album, and we try to treat it as the very first album and the last album that we ever do. So I think that’s kind of the trick. We go in there and picture yourself a band that is doing our first album and treat the album as a live concert almost. If you play the whole album right, it will work.

The album is only fairly short too, in that it’s pretty well straight to the point.
I see that as a compliment. I see the main thing for a thrash metal album should be that it should be to the point. I mean, there are exceptions of course, but I think that when thrash metal songs are too long, it’s kinda boring. And the trick is to not make them too long, not make them too short, and write the songs… whatever sets the tone. Just the right idea, just the right feel.

I did notice there was a fair bit of melody and some folk-inspired moments on this album.
Oh yes! We just tried to make every song different. Lot of Iron Maiden, lot of traditional metal influence.

Lyrically, is there an over-riding concept or any main themes being explored on Phantom Antichrist?
[It’s] Mainly about media manipulation. That’s the main theme on this album. “Phantom Antichrist” is about Osama bin Laden in a way; it was kind of inspired by the fact that when Osama bin Laden was caught he was put into the ocean straight away without asking him about September 11. So that was sort of inspired by why didn’t they talk to the guy before they kill him, and how come they give him a sea burial even though there’s nothing about that in the Muslim religion. That kind of gave me inspiration for the song and the album title. The album is not about Osama bin Laden, it’s more about freeing yourself from fear, because a lot of the mass media try to put fear into people to control them. So the main theme, the main concept is how the media try to manipulate you to think in a certain direction. Most of the lyrics on the album talk about stuff like that.

It seems to me that type of subject has always been a very strong theme with Kreator and with thrash metal in general.
To me that’s more horrifying than talking about some fantasy lyrics or something. We’ve had that on almost every record except for the first two. On the new one of course we are doing that and we’ve kept up the tradition.

Speaking of tradition, Kreator has been around a very long time. You were one of the first thrash metal bands, so how have you seen metal evolve over the thirty years or so that you’ve been doing it?
To me it’s not about the trends that come and go, it’s about the quality of the music. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as… you know with everyone jumping on the bandwagon, the lastest trend, I don’t buy it. I’m a big fan of metal in general. I see the evolution of thrash metal as very critical. There’s a huge amount of new bands coming out that are carrying the torch and trying to copy the sound of back in the day. That’s their main gimmick. I like a lot of those bands. I like many, many of those new artists like Warbringer, Violator, and all these newer bands, but I am still hoping that one of them comes up with a killer album and killer songs – I think the last Warbringer was pretty cool. But in general metal has changed of course. The 90s were not so good for metal, but there was some great modern metal bands. From 2000 onward, metal has become almost bigger than ever and a lot of new bands came along and not a lot of them were great. There was many, many bands, but they weren’t all of good quality.

So how does that affect a band like Kreator?
It’s all about endurance. If you’re a band and you believe in what you do, when you’ve been in a band for that long, you should just try and do your thing and don’t look too much right and left to see what’s happening with the scene. Who’s coming out, who’s splitting up and who’s dying… whatever. I think the most important thing is to believe in what you do and try to be the best you can.

I know a few people are really looking forward to your next album. It seems like people are just as keen for new stuff from Kreator as ever.
The great thing about our band, one of the things I’m really proud of is that when we play new songs, it’s not like the people don’t wanna hear ’em. I’ve seen a lot of old bands, they create a new song and the reaction is freezing, then they play an old school and everyone goes berzerk. That’s not the case for Kreator. We play a new song and then an old school and it works perfectly!

So have you ever thought about a time when you might retire from Kreator or from playing metal?
No (laughs). I’m gonna do this until I die I guess! There’s no reason for me to not do this anymore. I’ve been doing this my whole life, you know. What else am I gonna do? I love what I do and I’m gonna keep doing it as long as I can. It’s very interesting when you think about it. Look at a band like Motorhead… Lemmy’s gonna be 70 in a couple of years. And he doesn’t seem like he wants to stop or anything. It’s great. It’s really good. I think metal is the best form of music to keep doing as long as you want. There’s no age limit. It’s great.

Is there any plans for Kreator to come back to Australia soon?
Of course! Right now we’re talking about a tour in Australia. We don’t know when we’re going to be on tour though. We think about either sometime this year or early next year. We definitely want to do a proper tour again.

Well you would definitely be welcome. It’s been a long since we’ve seen you here.
Last time we come was in 2009, so it’s been a while, and we have a very strong fanbase in Australia. We love coming there. We love the mentality of the people. It’s very laid back and we really want to come back. And we will.