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Along with Destruction and Sodom, Kreator is one of the holy triumvirate of metal bands (quadrumvirate if Tankard is included) to spring from Germany during the early days of thrash.
Revered and reckoned by many to be as important to the genre as any of the American bands, Kreator has remained a powerful and inspirational force in the world of extreme metal since the release of Endless Pain in 1985. Last year’s album Hate Über Alles, their fifteenth, shows no evidence of Kreator getting any less aggressive and after a long gap between visits the band will finally return to Australian shores early next year. Frontman, guitarist and founder Mille Petrozza sat down over Zoom and gave us his thoughts on violent society, the internet and the worldwide fraternity of metal
HYSTERIA: It’s been quite a long time since Kreator was in Australia last. It’s great that you will be returning here once again.
MILLE PETROZZA: Yes. This time it’s going to be special, because we are touring with In Flames, so it should be a Clash of the Titans style tour in Australia.
H: In Flames did some festival shows here last year so it will be good to have them doing a full tour, but having both bands together will almost be like two generations of metal.
MP: Almost … I don’t know whether it’s ten years (difference) or six years, but all I know is that In Flames came a little after Kreator. I think they formed in the early 90s, and I know they were really influenced by Kreator, and they influenced us back in our later years because their riffs are really cool. We’re good friends, so it will be a good tour.
H: It’s been a couple of album cycles since Kreator has been in Australia. The album has been out for a while, but tell us a little about Hate Über Alles because it seems to be a very powerful reflection on the state of the world.
MP: Yeah, it’s been awful. It’s definitely one of our most direct albums. We’re not the kind of band that goes back to the old school, or back to its roots – or whatever. I don’t like these terms because it limits your creativity. I think it’s a nice version of Kreator being Kreator, in a way, but on the other hand it sounds very direct without sounding old school or dated. We made sure the production is top notch. Hate Über Alles is a statement about the world we’re living in at this point. There is always new wars, new terror attacks… new hate! I wrote the song Hate Über Alles during the pandemic, and there’s a lyric ‘Hate is the virus of this world’ because I felt that way during the pandemic. I think especially with social media and the internet, every opinion gets blown up out of proportion. All of sudden everybody’s opinion matters, even those who have no background information. Sometimes it’s getting too much for me. I had to put that into words in the title track.
I don’t like these terms because it limits your creativity.
[ Mille Petrozza, Kreator ]
H: The internet is certainly the perfect place for fear and hate to be spread.
MP: It is a blessing and a curse. On the other hand, we have access to all kinds of great bands and great music, just a click away! We’re able to see each other now, and you’re on the other end of the world. But social media is a different story. Social media can be a tool for young and upcoming bands to spread the word, to spread their music. But it can also be a tool for extremists to spread their propaganda. It can be used in all different forms, and it’s just a projection of all things that humanity does including the most evil and horrific stuff.
H: People always like to paint metal music as violent and evil, but it’s really very much like holding a mirror up and reflecting back what you see in society.
MP: That’s very well put. I couldn’t say it better. That’s exactly what we want to reflect. Our music, and our lyrics especially, reflect what we see. There’s no judgement and we don’t take sides. We just share what we see. You can just enjoy the music and block out the lyrics, or you are absolutely invited to read the lyrics and reflect on what you see. If it helps you see things clearly, or whatever. I’m not a big fan of bands who try to push their political views – or whatever – onto people, but I like to project what I feel, and maybe people agree or maybe they disagree. Maybe people think that it’s just corny metal lyrics, or whatever, but that’s how we feel! It’s a mirror.
H: You’re putting it out there and letting your audience decide what to take away from it.
MP: Absolutely. I think we have very, very smart people listening to our music. I sometimes feel that, when people have been listening to Kreator and we talk, and they’re telling me what they see in the lyrics, I think that’s great and it’s a great form of interpretation sometimes. I learn a lot from what people see in my lyrics. Sometimes I think,”Well, that’s what you see in these lyrics? That’s interesting.” But that’s the beauty of art and imagining and music – everybody sees something different. Everybody’s taking something from it that I didn’t see when I wrote those lyrics.
H: You like to regale the crowds at Kreator shows by exhorting them to “kill one another”. That sounds pretty violent, but you’re not really telling them to do that, are you?
MP: That’s the beauty of going to concerts and listening to extreme metal. When the singer says “Are you ready to kill each other?” and nobody kills each other! Everybody’s just having a fucking great time. It’s more of an invitation to bang your head, or go into the moshpit or dance, or whatever your physical expression might be – that’s what I’m talking about when I say “Are you ready to kill each other?” It’s a celebration of the music, and it’s better than going out there and actually killing each other. That’s what I love about metal. There’s all these codes in metal and music – especially metal, extreme metal, thrash metal – and people know how to interpret them. The community is not stupid. Kill each other – but no one’s going to take out a knife or a gun. You go into the moshpit.
H: Kreator was one of the bands that devised those codes. Metal very much is a language, it has its own rules and some might even say that it is its own religion, but it’s really all about fun and fraternity and a sense of community.
MP: Metalheads – most of them – are the nicest people you can meet. They’re very relaxed and funny and not violent at all. They go to shows and leave the violence at the show by going into the pit, banging their head or just screaming the lyrics. They come out of the show and they’ve levelled out, they’re peaceful. And I think that’s what metal is all about. It has an almost religious vibe to it.