Latest release: Hate Über Alles (Nuclear Blast)Website: www.kreator-terrorzone.de

German thrash metal titans, Kreator, have effectively been in operation for close to forty years. To achieve that sort of longevity in the fickle music industry is a significant feat. However, to still be recording, releasing and touring on the back of excellent new material that is as heavy, concise and as energetic as any of their classic tracks, is a sensational achievement. Their fifteenth album, titled Hate Über Alles contains both the signature Kreator sound, updated for a new era of metal, as well as some experimental aspects, with additional atmospherics that adds to their musical palette.  

Diehard Kreator fans, and the global metal audience alike, should warm to Kreator’s cracking new album, which is enhanced by crisp production, plenty of harmony guitar figures, and a variety of hammering rhythm parts, all bolstering the ferocious scream of the world’s angriest dedicated vegan, front man Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza. Loud Online recently spoke to Petrozza via Skype, following the release of Kreator’s latest thrash metal onslaught. 

Hate Über Alles really is an excellent album. Did you expect that after forty years you’d still be cranking out music of such consistently good quality? 

When you are starting as a teenager, you wish that you would be able to do that, of course, but back then we managed imaged the next couple of weeks in advance. We wouldn’t really look into the future. But yeah, I am happy that I am still here and that people are still into what we do, which is crazy, if you think about it. Every time somebody mentions the time which has passed since we started, it doesn’t feel like it. Time flies for all of us. But when you are in a band, the way that you feel time is passing is different because you go from tour to tour, to album to album, and it never feels as if all the time has passed.   

I believe that the music on this album was largely written before the pandemic hit. Does it feel reflective of a time before everything went pear-shaped? 

Yes and no, because of course I wrote some of the lyrics during the pandemic but the main themes and the main songs, or at least most of the songs, were written before so we just had to just pick the best ones. I had written something like twenty songs since Gods of Violence came out. I presented the songs that I thought were the strongest to the band, and yeah, some of the lyrics reflect the time during the pandemic. But I didn’t want to go too much into this strange time that we had all experienced, in order to create a timeless record. I do want people to enjoy this album in say ten years in the future and also without having to think about this horrible experience that we all had to go through.   

Pride Comes Before the Fall is almost prophetic in a sense given what is happening. 

It is kind of but I would rather not be prophetic, you know, if it leads to a pandemic. Ha-ha. 

The last song on the album is Dying Planet which was co-written with new official bassist Frédéric Leclercq [ex Dragonforce]. How did that come about? 

That song kind of came together because we had some time left over. See, when we rehearse as a band going into rehearsal mode, we have some time since everybody is from all over the place in Europe. We get together for two weeks and within those two weeks, we did those three songs. There was this one block when we rehearsed where we were very quick with the songs and everybody knew the songs, almost within the first two to four days. We had some time left and I was asking, ‘Okay, what are we going to do with this time?’ and the band said, ‘Go home and write another song.’ I then wrote the main riff for the record and then Fred came up with the beginning, and we just went from there. It was like the old-school way of writing music as a band. We were arranging the stuff from the get-go and I think it is one of the strongest songs. Definitely, Dying Planet has so much diversity in the music, and at almost seven minutes longs, it is one of those songs that, I think, is very unusual for Kreator but on the other hand, it is 100% Kreator. 

It also reminds me of Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss with the moods and combined aggression.  

Thank you, that is a huge compliment. 

Obviously the Slayer influence is evident with Kreator but are there any other predominant influences you’d say comes through in Kreator’s music over the years? 

Hmm, first and foremost, we are a thrash metal band so I think that we are influenced by the music that we’ve grown up with, in a sense. When we grew up, of course it was Metallica, Venom, you name them, you know, all of these early extreme metal bands. Celtic Frost, Slayer, of course; all of them were a huge influence on Kreator. As we went along, and as time has passed, we developed our own style. There are the elements such as when you play the fast beats, which I always call the polka beat, there are certain riffs that always have to be on that beat. As soon as you go fast, it is always like the thrash metal style, which is celebrated by so many bands around the world. I would say that nowadays, there is not so much influence from other metal bands. Even since around twenty years ago, I haven’t been so influenced by other metal, rather than music outside of metal. Nowadays, when I try to get inspired, I listen to anything but metal in order to not sound like other bands, you know what I mean? 

Indeed, that makes sense. In that light, how would your musical interactions with Sami [Yli-Sirniö – lead guitar] has developed or changed? 

He has become an essential part of the band, like any member that play in Kreator at this point in time. He is so easy to work with because if I have a spot for him to play a melody on, or a solo, he comes up with great, great stuff. He has this tone that is very much him and he has a trademark sound or a trademark and unique way of writing not only guitar solos but also melodies.  

Does he push you with the harmony aspects or ideas, such as the prevalent part in the single, Strongest of the Strong? 

I come up with the basic stuff and then he comes up with the finesse, so to speak. Ha-ha.  

Midnight Sun includes contributions from German female vocalist, Sofia Portanet. Are the thrash metal purists going to get upset there? 

I think that they already did, if you look at the comments on the video release, some people are like, ‘Oh fuck, this cannot be, this is not Kreator!’ and so on, whatever. Sofia is a great artist and I really like what she is doing but she is not a permanent member of the band. I think that people should chill out. I mean, it is just one song, if people don’t like it, move on, you know what I mean? I think that it is one of the strongest songs, it fits perfectly and she really helped me put my vision into reality because the song is influenced by the movie Midsommar by director Ari Aster. the female character in that movie is very, very strong and I wanted to put that into the music, and into the arrangement. She helped me with that and I think it is one of the outstanding songs on the record. 

Certainly. The title track, Hate Über Alles, is classic Kreator. Did your producer, Arthur Rizk, encourage that direction? I gather there were no battles in that area. 

No, and the thing with this particular song is that I had up to ten different versions of that song; the choruses always changed. I wanted this to become one of those songs were people go, ‘Wow, okay, they’re back, this is them, this is Kreator!’ As the first single, title track, I think that it just shows that it has the typical trademarks but it is a fresh sound and it feels both new and exciting, to me. That was the goal when we wrote this song; we felt that it was a special song and we felt that it sums up what we have been doing for many, many years now. 

The introduction piece of Sergio Corbucci Is Dead reminds a little bit of Metallica’s Battery. 

Yeah, yeah, that is definitely very old school thrash and has all the classic trademarks. 

Given you’ve been playing guitar for so many years, how would you say your playing style has changed or evolved? Do you find yourself becoming say more aggressive or more precise in your approach to guitar? 

Precision is not what I am aiming for, I want to make people feel something. Whether you are a musician or you plan on becoming a musician, I want to inspire these people to just do themselves and to just go for it. To just learn three chords and start a band, that is my attitude. To me, I don’t really know and I don’t really care. The guitar is kind of like my tool to express my emotions and use that to share it with others. It can be a very sad melody, such as on Dying Planet, or in a very aggressive form when you listen to the title track. It is all good, and it is all part of it.

How are the solos sorted out on the album? Also, how are they arranged? 

It is half for each of us so it is split between myself and Sami. We decided on that from the get-go but usually the process is like this; I will do a demo tape in a studio and then I will play it to the band. On that demo, I will play all the solos but I kind of know in the back of my mind, ‘Okay, this would be a spot for Sami, and this would be a spot for me.’ I think then that it always depends because if Sami thinks that he should play the whole solo and that he has a a great idea, I am more than happy to trust him on that because he is very good. He is one of the best musicians and guitar players that I have ever worked with. 

A lot of earlier albums were given the full reissue treatment. Recently, Endorama got an extended reissue too. What involved in that sort of release? 

Those are always things that, since nowadays, vinyl is what people really love when they buy their metal, and to support the band. Endorama, for example, was limited when it came out to maybe one thousand copies or something, on vinyl, so it is already sold out. Then you will find copies on eBay for ridiculous prices but what we wanted to do was reissue those for our fans who want to purchase it in a vinyl format. For the Endorama one, we added heaps such as a demo that is involved and there is great stuff that hasn’t been heard before and with great, extended artwork. To me, these things are fun on the side, really, you know, coming up with these concepts and coming up with the things that you could do to make this exciting. This is something that I work on as a side project when I am not on tour. 

Speaking of vinyl, the latest album is also available in a tri-fold format. 

Yes, the artwork is very important to us and especially for Hate Über Alles, working with Eliran Kantor. He is the best when it comes to metal and he could also do any artwork for any band in other genres. He is such a great artist and we are very honoured to have him on board. We celebrated the new album by coming up with these new tri-fold pieces and all that, to give people the full treatment, really. For me, if someone wants to give me their music in a physical form, I absolutely prefer vinyl. CD is a nice format but it is not as nice as vinyl because I love the artwork and everything. 

The rhythm section in Kreator is full-on with super tight attack. How much do you need to rehearse to get everything spot-on? 

It is a little bit of work, of course. You need to put everything and everything that you have got into this, it is not like music that you just play. Physically, it is a thing, you know, so we don’t rehearse longer than say two to three hours because it is really demanding and it takes a lot of concentration. It takes a lot of energy because it is physical music. It is supposed to make people move and to make people jump up and band their head. It’s work but it good work, in fact it is great work, it is a lot of fun, and we love it. It doesn’t feel like work but let me put it this way, it is a mix between concentration and a work-out, really.  

Agreed, and having seen Kreator live a number of times, the power of attack and strength in the sound is amazing. That resilience almost comes from a strict training regimen.  

Absolutely so we really need to focus on that when we go on tour nowadays. We really focus on putting all our energy into what we’ve got into the music and into the show. I am glad that you appreciate that. 

Would you say there are any tracks on this latest album that represent the pinnacle of Kreator’s skills currently? 

I like both the title track and I like the more experimental stuff. I like Midnight Sun just as much as I do like Dying Planet. Those are my favourite songs on there at the moment but these things change. We haven’t played many of those songs live yet so after that, my song preference will change as well. Let’s see who this develops and how I feel about these songs after I have presented them to our audience. 

Guitar equipment wise, have you embraced the digital realm of Kempers and Axe-Fx processors over physical amplifiers? 

Yes, it makes life easier, especially on tour. In the studio, we are still very old school, using vintage amplifiers and vintage equipment to record, in order to get a warmer sound on the record. When we go live, we use all of the modern day technology and it works really well because, that way, every night we have the same sound and there are no surprises. 

Is your guitar arsenal that you’re using still unchanged? 

I switched to ESP a while ago and I have this signature model which fits to my needs and they are really supportive. We are developing a new signature guitar as we speak. Yeah, those are the guitars that stay in tune, they are really powerful and they are made for this kind of music.  

Have you ever considered very low tunings, trying out the seven or eight string style of playing? 

We had thought about using different tunings on this record but we decided against it. Our tuning is in D, but we have experimented with B tuning, but we decided not to do it. 

Looking at the Kreator discography, is there a particular album which you view as being a perfect musical vision? 

Good question, I think that when you have a new album out, you always think that is your best one. But, of course, I see the whole back catalogue and I think that there are essential albums like Pleasure to Kill, Extreme Aggression, Violent Revolution and the newer one of Phantom Antichrist. It always changes though so I could never really pick out one in particular. 

Any chance that Kreator might be able to return to Australia, all things considered with global events? 

It is possible to go back to Australia and fingers crossed, we are planning on coming back in the beginning of 2023.