With “Renewal” being the first of the ‘brave albums’ that KREATOR released throughout the 90s, it isn’t a surprise that many of the fans would be disappointed about the content. KREATOR moves away from the strict chaotic Thrash nature of their early career and forges into a more modern territory with “Renewal” that is going to have those long time fans skipping over the album. But this is still not the most shocking part of the bands 6th release; the most shocking part is that in all actuality, “Renewal” is not that bad.
Granted, this album isn’t up to the quality of their previous effort “Coma Of Souls” or even some of the work prior to that, but “Renewal” is far from being a terrible album. Truthfully, fans and listeners are going to try to compare this record with the earlier work but it doesn’t work. This album had a very different outlook and approach to music and thusly it falls almost completely into a different category making it hard to compare.
When I first listened to “Renewal” it was very hard for me to believe that it was KREATOR that had written and recorded this album. There is almost no Thrash influence at all in the music. The album is torn back to the basics. The riff and rhythm have become the core of the music, with lots of simplistic instrumental work to ground out the majority of the songs. Whether it’s the almost base nature of the drumming (which is very prominent in the mix and partially one of my complaints about the album) or the Industrial-esque rhythm sequences for the guitars and sampling (the interlude track “Realitatskontrolle” is almost all sampling and rhythm) this album is pulled back. Even the speedier tracks, like “Zero To None” or “Europe After The Rain” tend to be slower than any of KREATOR’s earlier songs. The band is writing a completely new ideal for what KREATOR is and they do it with such power and control that they pull it off.
None of the above mentioned characteristics bothered me from “Renewal”. Most of the elements that did seem to catch in my throat were the Hardcore influences that sit at the forefront. The odd mix of crunchier guitar tones, bombardment drumming mixing, and the rough off-the-hook sound for Mille’s vocals tend to hinder some of the forward movement for the album. The band was trying to capture that ‘heavy’ sound with “Renewal” but the band was able to achieve this goal with atmosphere and the production deems it a little over the top.
I have a lot of respect for the band for mixing it up with “Renewal” from their previous work, but I still tend to skip over the album when I want some great KREATOR music. The album is solid as hell and the band achieved exactly what they were aiming for but in the end I find many of the songs to be forgettable. A unique album that is for sure, but it still tends to collect dust on my album shelf.
Songs to check out: “Europe After The Rain”, “Renewal”, “Depression Unrest”.
(Online February 28, 2009)