KREATOR Interview - UCLA Daily Bruin 1996

Hardcore band Kreator maintains metal tradition Veteran German group proves its mettle with newly released album for '90s

  As punk and alternative push heavy metal into the periphery of the modern music scene, the hardcore German band Kreator has remained largely unfazed by the trends and fads of the music industry.

After the band's debut in 1985 with the album "Endless Pain," Kreator continued to define the thrash metal movement throughout the 1980s. With the recent release of their eighth album, "Cause for Conflict," the veteran thrashers have maintained the brutal tradition of extreme metal as well as their own vitality.

"We're trying to take the music that we played in the `80s and put it into the `90s," says guitarist/vocalist Mille Petrozza. "We try to keep it very aggressive and heavy and dark. But on the other side, we donīt want to get stuck in something, being labeled as death metal, that metal, or this metal. We try to be more than that."

In the metal genres, song speed has long been a definitive variable. Although Kreator's music was initially characterized by ballistic velocities, the band has begun to tinker with this aspect of their music. In addition, Kreator has boldly incorporated new elements such as samples and tribal percussion into its music.

"Our music is still pretty fast at times, but we added something to it. We're working with tribal beats, we're working with lower speeds - all kinds of stuff," says Petrozza. "We try to combine all the influences that we have in our music and come up with something totally unique and original."

Another recent development which separates Kreator's music from the metal mainstream is the band's avoidance of guitar solos and the structural cliches which accompany them.

"We tried to avoid the typical chorus-verse-chorus thing, and guitar solo-break, and that kind of stuff," Petrozza says. "We experimented with sound effects rather than the typical heavy metal guitarist solo with the guitar hero playing his part. That's not for us."

Although Kreator utilized such patterns in the past and most metal bands continue to do so today, Petrozza points out that there are only a handful of solos on "Cause for Conflict," an album with 13 tracks. In addition, the average running time of the songs is significantly shorter than in Kreator's past.

Petrozza explains that Kreator consciously adopted this new musical philosophy because tighter songs allow more concentrated self-expression.

"We get the point across a lot more directly than in the past," he says. "We're not coming up with a big intro. We just go into the song and go out. It's more like an in-and-out thing. It's pretty heavy."

While Kreator has embraced musical change, there has been little change in the band's lyrics. Petrozza's analyses of issues ranging from the personal to the political are as scathing and honest as ever.

"In our lyrics, we deal with all kinds of stuff," Petrozza says. "There's one song that deals with racism; there's one song that deals with the church. Going in the same vein as we always did. We try to come up with lyrics that deal with reality."

As a result of its musical innovations and bold lyrics, Kreator has started earning recognition and respect. After struggling for more than a decade with the perceptions and prejudices against heavy metal, Kreator has finally begun winning the hearts and minds of would-be critics.

"We're definitely getting more accepted as a band," says Petrozza. "That's one of the things that we noticed over the years - that we're not labeled as just noise. We're accepted as musicians and as a band."

Most of Kreator's peers have not been so lucky, however. With the declining popularity of the metal genres since the late `80s, most metal bands have long since called it quits. Even some of the most popular metal bands have been disappeared or self-destructed in recent years.

"There's no radio stations playing this kind of music anymore," he says. "I think they overdid it for a while. When all these big bands came out - the hairspray bands and all that -people got fed up. So now they want something different."

One casualty that made a lasting impression on Petrozza was the expulsion of Rob Halford from heavy metal progenitor Judas Priest. Petrozza, a long-time fan of Judas Priest, was sorry to see the band fall apart, especially since Judas Priest was already one of the last bands of its kind.

"Judas Priest was like the last thing I was holding onto," says Petrozza. "I always really liked them, and then when Fight came along, I wasn't really impressed. And that's when I realized some bands are not moving ahead, they're doing the same things over and over again. Or if they change, it's not for the better."

Although the Judas Priest disintegration troubled Petrozza, Kreator's own history has not exactly been uneventful. After the 1992 release of Kreator's seventh album "Renewal," bassist Andreas Hertz and drummer Jurgen Reil left the band apparently for personal and professional reasons.
Instead of admitting defeat, however, Petrozza and fellow founding guitarist Frank Gosdzik enlisted bassist Christian Giebler and ex-Whiplash drummer Joe Cangelossi. Together, the foursome has captured the essence of the most extreme metal genres.

"We're really happy with the way it came out because it's so hard core," Petrozza says. "It's very much what we like to listen to ourselves.

"We were always looking for the drum sounds that we have on this album now, and we were always looking for the guitar sound that we achieved on this album," he continues. "Everything is just the way we wanted."  

--John Sabatini --UCLA Daily Bruin on January 11, 1996.