KREATOR — Renewal (review)

KREATOR — Renewal album cover Album · 1992 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
UMUR
"Renewal" is the 6th full-length studio album by German thrash/heavy metal act Kreator. The album was released through Noise Records in October 1992 (the band´s last release on the label). It´s the successor to "Coma of Souls" from 1990 and features the same lineup who recorded the predecessor. "Renewal" signalled a major change in sound for Kreator and is a prime example of a fan base divider. While each of the preceding five album releases had featured an increasingly more sophisticated, more melodic, and less savage sound to its direct predecessor, very few fans expected a departure from the band´s signature thrash metal sound like the one they were treated to on "Renewal".

"Renewal" is actually not devoid of thrash metal riffs and rhythms and there are several hard edged riffs and rhythms featured on the album, but it is overall the most atmospheric Kreator album up until that point, and the music also features less thrashy heavy metal elements and even some industrial metal leanings. Miland "Mille" Petrozza has opted for a less fierce vocal approach than ususal too although his vocals are still raw and shouting. All in all "Renewal" is very different sounding to its predecessors. The sound production is also less heavy and aimed at enhancing atmosphere rather than aggression and power.

All of those changes probably don´t sound that great to the ears of a conservative thrash metal listener and Kreator did receive a lot of criticism from that part of their fanbase at the time of the album´s release, but in retrospect the early 90s were a time where many thrash metal acts experimented with their sound either because they felt an artistic urge to try something different or because their sales were decreasing. Kreator were at the height of their popularity, so they definitely belong in the former catagory, and "Renewal" was therefore born out of a need to evolve.

Stylistically the music on the album can be described as atmospheric heavy metal oriented thrash metal with some industrial metal leanings. The atmosphere is dark and the lyrics are bleak and reek post-apocalyptic despair. "Renewal" is a relatively varied album, and in addition to heavy/thrash metal tracks like "Winter Martyrium", "Brainseed" (which is the track on the album featuring most industrial influences), and "Europe After the Rain" (which features an atmospheric middle section though), the album also features some more melodic and atmospheric tracks in "Reflection", "Depression Unrest", and "Karmic Wheel". Especially the latter is a particularly atmospheric track, with a mellow melancholic mid-section featuring audio samples from the suicide of R. Budd Dwyer (the 30th State Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who committed suicide in January 1987 by shooting himself at a press conference. R. Budd Dwyer was convicted of receiving a bribe and was scheduled to be sentenced the day after his suicide). It´s just one example of the atmospheric details featured on "Renewal", which make it such a special listening experience.

Upon conclusion "Renewal" was an extremely bold move for Kreator. Making a left-turn like this at the height of their popularity required extraordinary courage. They could probably easily have released "Coma of Souls (1990)" number 2 and been successful with that, but they opted to do something different. Did it work? Probably not for most of their fans, but personally I think it´s their most interesting album. It took some time to get used to, and I wasn´t sold initially, but it has grown on me considerably over the years and to my ears it´s one of those timeless albums, which stood the test of time. The songwriting is intriguing and adventurous, the musicianship is strong, and the sound production is original and interesting. "Renewal" is through and through a high quality release and it´s quite unique sounding too. At least I´ve yet to find anything which sounds like it. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.
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Tupan wrote:
3 months ago
I need to revisit this. It was the first Kreator album I've listened, and I wasn't impressed at the time (although I liked some tracks, like Renewal, Europe After the Rain and Karmic Wheel).
UMUR wrote:
3 months ago
Yeah I know, it could just be a coincidence, but it not, I´m amused that someone would get so annoyed by a review, that they would "unfriend" me. I guess it´s not a great loss, if that´s how they react to something as innocent as a review :-).
siLLy puPPy wrote:
3 months ago
Could be just a coincidence that someone unfriended you. I've noticed that it happens randomly even during periods of inactivity. Sometimes accounts get suspended etc. Don't think i've heard this one but i find it hilarious that some get so uptight about other's tastes in music!
UMUR wrote:
3 months ago
Ha ha, interesting. This review meant that someone disconnected me as a mutual friend on RYM, and another user favorited the review. Divisive album indeed :-)

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