RENEWAL Review - Metal Maniacs 1992

In the wake of the increasing disintrest on the part of the record-buying public in the straight-ahead thrash metal popularized by the likes of Kreator, Dark Angel, Destruction, Sacrifice and others in the mid'80s, Kreator have opted to make a directional change on this, their sixth full-lenght effort for the Noise label. Gone are the trademark, high-pitched scratchy vocals of guitarist Mille in favor of a less abrasive, near-punk style shouting approach, while musically, this at times comes across as an altogether different band than the one that recorded such vicious classics as "Pleasure To Kill" and Ripping Corpse".

Produced by Tom "They Made Me Do It" Morris at Tampa's Morrisound Studios, "Renewal" is an extremely dry-sounding, drum-oriented affair that clearly sacrifices some of the guitar crunch that we've come to expect from the German quartet. It's just as well, since the hardcore-style feel of a lot of the material calls for a drastically different productiont than the group's previous straight-ahead thrash offerings.

Where the problem lies, however, is in the fact that the change in Kreator's style is so radical that it often comes across as a forced "progression" rather than a natural evolution. Don't get me wrong-it's cool to experiment and try new things (in fact, it was a necessary move if Kreator was even have a shot at a successful long-term career), but it should be done in moderation (as it usually is), and not simply be exercised for the sake of it.

This said, the nine tracks on the offer (as well as the production) do tend to grow on you after repeated listenings, which suggests that, given time, Kreator could well be onto something with their newly-acquired approach. Further more, the group's direction is still as uncommercial as it ever was, just in a different way. Industrial influences are evident, as well as the aforementioned old-punk overtones, and there are still some fairly typical Kreator ideas as in the opener "Winter Martyrium".

If you can get past the rather ineffectual production (in my opinion) and the fact that you're not listening to the Kreator of old, you might enjoy the group's latest effort. Otherwise, this is bound to disapoint all those fans who were hoping that the Geramns would be one of the last surviving "true" thrash metal bands to thrive in the '90s. --Borivoj Krgin