KREATOR - “Hail Moses!”

March 4, 2009, 11 years ago

By Carl Begai

feature kreator

Any talk of change with regards to a Kreator album is more than enough to have even the band’s staunchest supporters fearing another Endorama. It’s been a decade since the release of the critically slammed goth metal experiment, but with two full throttle thrash epics since then – Violent Revolution (2001) and Enemy Of God (2005) – to wash the black #1 taste out of our mouths, the last thing the fans want to hear is that their band has revamped its gameplan. Fears of a new car crash are unfounded, however. The only changes Kreator entertained going into doing new album Hordes Of Chaos involved switching gears rather than trying to duplicate Enemy Of God, arguably one of the strongest records of their 20+ year career. Production, execution, recording, the creative process was overhauled for the new album, resulting in what frontman Mille Petrozza feels is a record that proves Kreator can still dish out classic thrash without sounding stagnant or desperate.

“Trying to come up with a follow-up for Enemy Of God, I admit, it was a bit tricky because that album was a huge success for us. On the other hand we were trying to come up with a way of not exactly re-inventing the band, but redefining Kreator’s style. Rather than concentrating too much on how we could do that we just waited for the right moment. When the songs came and were there we decided we should maybe try something different production-wise. I have huge respect for Andy Sneap. He did a great job on Violent Revolution and on Enemy Of God – he’s one of the best metal producers in the world, if not the best – but doing a third album with Andy would have meant that Kreator wasn’t taking a real step forward. So we took the challenge and hired Moses Schneider from Berlin who has worked with The Beatsteaks and German hard rock bands like Tocotronic. What I liked about his work was that he was actually able to filter the essence and the character of the bands he’s worked with on tape, and I think he did that on Hordes Of Chaos. That’s why a lot of people are saying the new album sounds heavier and more brutal than Enemy Of God; it’s something that you feel rather than hear.”
“I think there’s something missing from a lot of modern day productions that we put back into an album,” Petrozza offers. “Not that I think modern day productions or albums sound shitty, but bands that work with certain producers all have that same general sound. Even bands that sound shitty when you see them live. Moses gave us the self-confidence we needed to make this album. He was like, ‘Okay, you’ve done a thousand concerts in your career, you did 200 shows for Enemy Of God, you should be able to do a live recording. Of course we prepared ourselves by rehearsing differently, so we don’t regret doing the live recordings.”

Live recordings? As in “heads down, see you at the end…” live off the studio floor?

“Not exactly. We used modern day technology, of course, but all the edits on Hordes Of Chaos are done using live in-studio recordings. We all got together in one room and played the album, each song 10 times. Then we’d pick and choose what we wanted to use; so, we might have taken the intro of one take and put it with the chorus of another take because we thought that chorus sounded better than all the others. But yeah, all these little recorded parts were done live off the floor.”
“Kreator has never been a band that tries to come up with a master plan before we go into the studio,” explains Petrozza. “Of course we write all the songs before we go in so that they’re 100% there, we know which songs we’re going to play and how they should be, but it’s not like we say ‘Okay, we have to write a song for this specific audience or those kind of people.’ On this album we had one focus, and that was writing an album where every song could be performed live.”

Meaning lots of guitars, even more than what we hear on Enemy Of God. Or at least that’s the impression one gets as Hordes Of Chaos plays on.

“Soundwise there are definitely more guitars on the new album, but that also has to do with the way we recorded it. We used room mics, so there are guitars everywhere. We tried to produce the album as if you were sitting in our rehearsal room. We worked on the guitar sound a lot less for Hordes Of Chaos than we did for Enemy Of God and Violent Revolution. We just plugged in and played, man, so it was really easy to get the guitar tones (laughs).”
“That’s something else that Moses is really good at,” Petrozza adds. “His attitude was that the guitar sound was important, but we had to feel comfortable with it. Especially when we’re playing all in one room. Instead of analyzing everything and getting all anal about the guitar tones you concentrate a lot more on the performance. That makes a big difference in the way you hear things.”

He continues: “People should know that the producer is very important. You as a band write the songs and it’s all in your hands. If you want to write a metal album – and Kreator’s been a metal band forever – why change it? We’re very good at being a metal band, but we probably wouldn’t be as good as a punk rock band or a hardcore act.”

Keeping this old school approach to the production in mind, Hordes Of Chaos takes on an added charm if you happen to be part of the original metal legions that locked in on Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and their thrash brethren 20 years ago.

“I think the vibe is a big part of what makes Hordes Of Chaos,” says Petrozza. “The vibe is something that people tend to forget about. For a lot of bands perfection on an album is far more important than emotion, and I think…. Well, look at it this way; you’re from the old days of thrash. Just imagine if Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All had had perfect production; it wouldn’t have been the same album. Reign In Blood, same thing. Heaven And Hell, same thing. There are tons of examples of albums that became these over-the-top favourites because they were what they were, and they didn’t have perfect production.”

In the end, though, the biggest influence on Hordes Of Chaos was Kreator itself.

“Those older bands and albums influenced Hordes Of Chaos a lot; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and really old, old thrash metal stuff. The most infuential thing, though, was our back catalogue. We tried to do it in a cool way, though, because there’s nothing worse than a band that repeats itself. We kind of kept the style, we kept the vibe of the old school without sounding dated, and that’s something that we always wanted to achieve with this record. We didn’t want to keep things old school just for the sake of doing so.”
“One thing that I always ask myself before writing an album is, ‘Is it really necessary to write another Kreator album?’,” Petrozza admits. “It might sound a little weird but I really do that. I look at our back catalogue and in my opinion there are some really good albums, there have been some great moments and great albums, and there have been some not so great albums, but in the end Kreator really has studied its history. I ask myself, ‘If we put out a new record, is it something that will be as relevant as Violent Revolution was when it came out?’ We’re our own worst critics, definitely, but this is how we work and why we’ve been able to move forward.”

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