KREATOR – Illuminating The Path Of Global Thrash Metal Domination
January 31, 2017, a year ago
Former UFC champ, Loyota Machida, said “Karate is Back!” when he won the belt from Rashad Evans. The same thing can be said about thrash, IT IS BACK! It is not only back, but arguably, better than ever! When bands like Metallica, Sodom, Diamond Head and Overkill are still releasing quality records 30+ years into their career, there has definitely been a resurrection of the style. Standing on the mountain top, though, is Germany’s speed dealers, Kreator.
Kreator is not only my favorite thrash band, dethroning Slayer, they’ve become my favorite metal band. Period. They’ve not only been able to expand their sound and grow as musicians, without forsaking their roots, the band truly touches a nerve. Their brains are tuned to the state of the world today—or the state of the New World Order depending on your world view. Enemy Of God made me think there was a terrorist on every subway. Hoards Of Chaos laid out the elite’s master plan, one as old as war, divide and conquer. Now with Gods Of Violence, Germany’s answer to Slayer puts it all together in this compendium of destruction (Destruction—another great band!)
It’s not only those things that make Gods Of Violence a great album (we’ll see who can oust them as my #1 record as the year goes on), it’s how the album never gets boring. There is something distinct about every song. Whether it’s the cinematic, martial romp of “Apocalypticon” (sounds like a Celtic Frost title), the hooks and atmosphere of “Satan Is Real” or the stein-swinging good time feel of “Hail To The Hoards,” one just doesn’t know what to expect from track to track. Fans will be blown away with the new ideas Kreator offers on Gods of Violence.
BraveWords: How do you see Gods Of Violence as a punctuation point in your career?
Mille Petrozza: “I would say it’s the next step coming from Phantom Antichrist. We tried to make the album as interesting and exciting as possible. I guess that’s what we did. I wouldn’t say it’s a continuation of Phantom Antichrist, but definitely the album that follows it up. It was a tough one to follow up. I think we’ve managed.”
BraveWords: I think it’s the best album of your career.
Mille Petrozza: “Thank you.”
BraveWords: All the songs are diverse. There are great hooks. You have the speed metal, the groovy thrash and then there are all the other elements like the album intro. Tell us about making that intro.
Mille Petrozza: “It was an idea I had. The original only had drums and guitars. My idea was to make an orchestral part in the background—very menacing, evil and heavy. My producer knew this band from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse. They helped us with the orchestral arraignments and the results are great. It was the most exciting piece of music that I wrote recently. It sounds like a movie soundtrack.”
BraveWords: Is there a thematic connection in the lyrics?
Mille Petrozza: “I wouldn’t say they are connected. Every song is unique. Every song has its own little story. Of course, the vibe is very much connected. It’s what you would expect on a Kreator album. Kreator records have songs about current events or something influenced by current events. There is this redline, I would say. It’s not a concept record. I wouldn’t want to do that. The new record has a unique vibe that goes throughout the whole record. I think the titles speaks for itself, really.”
BraveWords: It seems like starting with Enemy of God, you started getting more political and into conspiracies and dictatorships. Was that a starting point?
Mille Petrozza: “I would say yes, but on the other hand, we were already touching on these subjects as far back as Terrible Certainty. Of course, with Enemy Of God it was more precise. It was clearer about what I was trying to say. When you are trying to write songs that everybody has a different opinion about, I wouldn’t say Kreator is not a political band, but some of the subjects we touch on could be influenced by politics, of course. I don’t want to put my opinion into these lyrics. I just want to report on what I see. I want to put my view on things in the lyrics and my feelings towards certain topics like human atrocities—all the pain and hate caused by politicians or corruption, really. It’s less of a statement than it is a report about what I see and how I interpret on certain things that have happened and are happening.”
BraveWords: So you would say it’s an objective viewpoint?
Mille Petrozza: “You mentioned Enemy Of God, some of the lyrics are inspired by terrorist attacks, by events that have actually happened. For example, the lyrics on the new record were inspired by the Bataclan attack in Paris, France. But it’s not about the Bataclan at a club. That is a club we played at many, many times. When I saw what had happened there, to me, I thought World War III had already started because there is no such things as battlefields anymore. It’s all…”
Mille Petrozza: “It’s everywhere. You could hit us anytime or anywhere, since there is no longer a target or a real enemy, we could all die without knowing what is happening. That’s why I wrote the song ‘World War Now.’ It’s not like the first two World Wars that we saw where it was obvious—there was an enemy, battlefields, attacks. These were traditional forms of war. Now a days, it’s about information. It’s about propaganda. It’s about terrorism…confusing times, really.”
BraveWords: Yes, very confusing times, especially on the Internet. You just don’t know what to believe!
Mille Petrozza: “And you don’t want to believe! In my opinion, I talked to a journalist in Germany already and now a days there is so much info that it’s not about finding information, it’s about filtering through it. Some of the sources are very shady. Some of the sources—when something happens you see hundreds of thousands of opinions and theories. Everybody knows everything, all of a sudden, so you have to be careful what you read about info because it comes to you anyway. It’s really easy to get excessive information.”
BraveWords: What do you think about the surveillance society we live in?
Mille Petrozza: “I think once you voice your opinion, you get a lot of people criticizing you. So in my opinion, it’s hard. Do you know the TV show Black Mirror? Some of the lyrics were inspired by that show because it’s something that takes place in the future, like ten years from now. This whole Internet thing has a lot of great things. It brought us a lot of good things. We can share more music. We can get in touch with people from all over the world. We can be directly in contact with the ones we love when we are travelling. Then there is this vicious storm. It has created a whole new society and psychology that we’re not really aware of and that’s something we have to learn how to deal with. Is much as it’s a good thing, it can be a bad thing. It can be very dangerous.”
BraveWords: People phishing. People hacking. Molesters picking up kids online.
Mille Petrozza: “The dark net is really bad for that, so it’s an open space. Anyone can put whatever they want to in there. I get the impression that today a lot of the opinions you would never hear about are there, right on your computer. As soon as you get online, you can see a lot of things you don’t even want to know about.”
BraveWords: Haha, most of it is bullshit!
Mille Petrozza: “It was always there, but now it’s visible. That’s the difference between now and then.”
BraveWords: I think people air out too much stuff on Facebook.
Mille Petrozza: “They feel like super heroes on Facebook. (Getting Trolled Now!), but when you meet them in real life, it’s a different story.”
BraveWords: Everybody is turning into a coward. Everybody has anxiety due to being stuck in a digital world in their bedrooms. They don’t even know what’s going on around them.
Mille Petrozza: “That’s true, but it’s only getting worse, man! It’s getting worse and worse. As much as I embrace new tech, we also have to be careful about what it does to our minds. It can fuck with our minds, man!”
BraveWords: You think about it: Now we have maps. You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to write down directions. You have spell checker so you’re not even learning how to spell words.
Mille Petrozza: “Absolutely, so you don’t even have to think anymore, right?”
BraveWords: It has taken our minds away.
Mille Petrozza: “Yep. It’s dangerous. We should be aware of this. Not that I think it’s something we shouldn’t embrace, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t let the computer take over, if you know what I mean. When I say that it’s almost like a movie from the ‘70s where the computer is taking over, 2001. I’m talking about Stanley Kubrick’s movie. That seems like science fiction, it is dystopian Sci-Fi, but if you look at what has happened today, it’s on a different level. It’s not as drastic as the movie, but certain parts of our life have been taken over by computers.”
BraveWords: Speaking of dystopian lit, are you into Huxley (Brave New World) or Orwell’s 1984?
Mille Petrozza: “Of course! Yes. I’m a big fan of these authors, of course. But, like I said, this TV show Black Mirrors takes it to another level. It’s very Orwellian, very Huxley. It’s very cool. It’s very influenced by those authors. You should watch it. It’s on Netflix.”
BraveWords: Great, I’m very influenced by dystopian literature. Have you written many songs on the subject? (Laughs) I guess all of your songs are on that topic!
Mille Petrozza: “(Laughs) Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of in my DNA. When I write something it always pops up. There are certain songs on the new record where I don’t talk about these things. For example, ‘Death Becomes My Life’, which is about a near-death experience and then there is a song called ‘Fallen Brother’, which is about mourning a fallen one. There are several other ones that don’t directly talk about this theme, but most of the songs do. Yeah, they do.”
BraveWords: What about “Hail To The Hoards”? That’s just a total Viking drinking song.
Mille Petrozza: “It took me 14 albums to write a song about the metal community. It’s not all about drinking, being Viking or being whatever—it’s not about being metal. It’s a lifestyle. It was hard for me to find the right words to describe this lifestyle, the attitudes, the whole philosophy behind being a metal head without being corny.”
BraveWords: I understand completely what you are getting at. You’re trying to do it and not be cliché, not be corny.
Mille Petrozza: “It’s hard because the idea has been done many times. These are bands that we all know. Take for example the song ‘In Union We Stand’. ‘United’ by Judas Priest is also a great song, but we wanted to sum up something that exemplifies the lifestyle and philosophy more than going to Wacken to drink, which is also part of it, just not all of it.”
BraveWords: It’s the fraternity. It’s the brotherhood.
Mille Petrozza: “Absolutely.”
BraveWords: Do you enjoy going to festivals and having beers with your fans?
Mille Petrozza: “Yeah, of course! I don’t drink beer but I like to have wine or hang out with a band and talk to them. I enjoy it a lot.”
BraveWords: Going onward, what is “Satan Is Real” about? Is this a literal interpretation?
Mille Petrozza: “‘Satan Is Real’ was inspired by my growing up in the ‘80s and being a metal head. I thought that our generation would be the first generation where religion becomes obsolete. That was my vision of the future. I was really optimistic about our generation not taking religion so seriously anymore—evolving into the next level of awareness. When I wrote ‘Satan Is Real’ there was this whole mess of obsessed lunatics, religious maniacs that take certain religions waaaaay too serious. I was trying to put that into words. ‘Satan Is Real’ talks about that. It talks about the relevance of religion in this day and age. I think it’s unnecessary, but it’s a reality we have to face.
BraveWords: It’s just something to divide us.
Mille Petrozza: “Exactly. It always has been, but why I was telling you about what I thought when I was younger I thought, ‘This is it.’ My grandparents and parents might have fallen for that. This is a new generation. It is a new age. Now there are twenty-year-old kids killing people for religious reasons. I just didn’t think that would be possible in the year 2016. When I look back on the ‘80s, the new millennium seems so far away. When we got there, it started. I’m not sure how it became so relevant, (takes deep breath), so real. I don’t believe in any religion. Of course, I have faith. I’m very convinced that the PMA works. It is something that is essential for my life to help me. It’s something that gives me power and strength. That’s a personal thing. I don’t believe in an entity, an icon.”
BraveWords: Conscious energy.
Mille Petrozza: “Yeah, exactly.”
BraveWords: So when you’re dead, you’re sleeping, you’re in the ground?
Mille Petrozza: “Could be. We don’t know. We’ll know when we get there. Nobody has come back from the dead, so far (our boy Hey-Zeus will dispute that claim). It’s the biggest mystery of our existence. It will always be that way because (laughs) there is one thing that humans will never, ever figure out. What happens when you die, that’s it! (laughs).”
BraveWords: Right. Whether you’re still a part of this earth, this plane of existence, you’re in a different realm. You’re gone. You will never be part of the world we know, again.
Mille Petrozza: “Right, it’s not something you can come back from. If we did, it wouldn’t work. The whole concept wouldn’t work (laughs).”
BraveWords: Shifting gears for a bit, can you tell me what bands you were into when you first started?
Mille Petrozza: “When we started, we were part of the tape-trading circuit in Europe. There were so many new bands that came out of Europe at the time. We had a record store where they would import stuff from Belgium—all over the world, really. All of these bands were new and exciting. The scene was really fresh. It was a great time. We were influenced by all of these bands. We were influenced by the early, NWOBHM bands. All the European stuff, the Canadian stuff, of course” (what does Canada have to do with anything?) “Exciter and Anvil are two of my favorite bands. You name them: Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Slayer” (I’ve always felt Kreator were Germany’s answer to Slayer), “all of them. It seems like there was a new band coming out every week. It was also exciting times. We were part of that scene.”
BraveWords: It’s kind of hard to pin-point your first couple records because they are so diverse. There is early black metal, thrash, speed metal. Of course, those are all tags, but what were you going for when you released Endless Pain?
Mille Petrozza: “We were teenagers and we had this demo out with another band before Kreator called, Tormentor-The End of the World. We felt that we weren’t that good yet. Then we had a record deal so we decided to write six more songs. Go into the studio and go for it. That was the only thing we wanted to do. We wanted to write an album that was just as heavy as the bands we were listening to like Venom, Possessed, Slayer, Bathory. Those were the bands that we were into at the time. We tried to put together an album that was our version of metal at the time.”
BraveWords: Kreator has really adapted and grown. I think you’re one of the only bands I listen to that has gotten better over time. So many of your fans are stuck on the old days. They think early Kreator rules and now you have too many melodies. I’ve heard someone say you sound like Arch Enemy.
Mille Petrozza: “(laughs maniacally) Whatever. They are entitled to their opinions. I’m a musician, man, and I shouldn’t be bothered. The thing is I love metal! I love my band! I do whatever I want. I didn’t choose to become a metal musician to have other people tell me what to do, if you know what I mean?”
BraveWords: That’s metal. You tell people to fuck off!
Mille Petrozza: “Exactly.”
BraveWords: Looking at the new stuff, it’s so much more dynamic. You have NWOBHM riffs. You have the speed metal riffs. You have the epic parts. You have better song writing.
Mille Petrozza: “To me, this is a journey. It’s like being on a roller coaster ride. You don’t know what is happening around the corner. This is what happened around the corner after Phantom Antichrist. Without over thinking the music, we just tried to come up with an album that is exciting. There is no formula to this. No concept. It’s more about us doing it and doing it the best we can. When we went into the studio for Endless Pain and that attitude hasn’t changed now.”
BraveWords: I think that contributes to your longevity. If you look at thrash—none of the Big 4 are very good anymore. They certainly haven’t been consistent, but Kreator has been consistent and built on your sound, instead of being like Metallica and feeling they should go back and sound like Diamond Head, tear it all up and then have a radio-friendly riff thrown in.
Mille Petrozza: “The thing is: we do our thing. We have a lot of respect for the other bands, so I will not say anything bad about those bands. I think the last Metallica was actually pretty good (laughs).” (I think it’s good, too, but not the album of the year!)
BraveWords: It’s good, I just wish they would move forward. It seems like they are stuck. Obviously, there is some Kill ‘Em All stuff in there, but IT IS NOT KILL ‘EM ALL!
Mille Petrozza: “I was really happy when I heard the first song off the new record. The guitar tones crush again and they have the great production again. I think their new record is really good.”
BraveWords: My thrash album of the year was the new Sodom record Decision Day.
Mille Petrozza: “That’s also a good album. These other bands are really doing great work today.”
BraveWords: What is your relationship with the guys in Sodom and Destruction? You’ve had a lot of their players in their band, right?
Mille Petrozza: “Oh yes, we are really good friends. We run into each other sometimes. We love those bands.”
BraveWords: Are you all from the same town?
Mille Petrozza: “No, no. We’re all from Germany, but not from the same town.”
BraveWords: You did a Big 4 tour, right?
Mille Petrozza: “Yes. There were only three bands in 2001. It was good. It was a lot of fun.”
BraveWords: Tankard wasn’t on that show, right?
Mille Petrozza: “No.”
BraveWords: That about wraps it up. You have a tour coming up over here. Tell us more about this tour.
Mille Petrozza: “We will be on the Decibel tour. First we come to Europe and then to the U.S. and Canada. We’re coming over with Obituary.”