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Most of the time words like "savage," "visceral," "aggressive' and "primal" are overused in heavy metal reviews. Every third-rate thrash or death band gets painted with such phrases, even though often you end up feeling as if Mötley Crüe's "Smoking In The Boys Room" would be more aggressive and in-your-face. But one album that can only be described by such violent description is Kreator's phenomenal 1985 debut, Endless Pain.
If later Kreator can be imagined as battalions of riot police methodically striking down all opposition, then Endless Pain is a group of soccer hooligans obsessed with nothing but inflicting wanton violence upon anyone. Indeed the music seldom lets up. It's fast, furious and angry. Very often such a premise can be monotonous with albums thrashing through at similar pace without much variation. Kreator avoids this by writing actual distinct songs, each with their own central musical themes and hooks. The band is not afraid of throwing in some more traditional heavy metal and punk elements a la "Cry War" or "Storm of the Beast."
Dual vocalists also help maintain a sense of variation. Mille presents a more high-pitched shrill rasp, whereas drummer Ventor rumbles along in a more guttural style that would be at home on many an early death or black metal album. The riffs are phenomenal, being both memorable and primal. It's in fact hard to believe this a three-piece.
There is very much a form of youthful exuberance that other, more established bands like Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax had already started replacing with a more serious and more metallic approach. Indeed this sounds more like it belongs in 1983 with the likes of Show No Mercy or Kill 'Em All than in 1985.
Tracks such as "Endless Pain," "Total Death," "Bonebreaker" and "Flag of Hate" are quintessential slabs of thrash. Even when the composition is flawed on songs such as "Cry War," there's still an infectious, violent groove that makes them enjoyable. And such flawed moments are few and far between.
The production is primitive but that's part of the charm. A more polished approach would have reduced the impact of primal, barbaric thrash metal. The remastered version was done well enough to make the music quite accessible whilst maintaining the sense of primal violence.
In the end Endless Pain attains a form of perfection based not on technical playing and production, but rather as the definition of extremely violent yet memorable thrash metal.
In 1985, for heavy metal bands, cover art was an extremely important thing. If you were an extreme metal band, it was all encompassing. People weren't going to hear your music on the radio and if nobody knew who you were, then your cover art needed to say A LOT. The cover of "Endless Pain" says that this music is pure, unadulterated aggression - no power ballads to be found anywhere here. And if your parents caught you with it, and god forbid should they actually LISTEN to it, your ass was due for many lectures about this evil music and the power of Satan and how important your grades were and so forth.
I mean, hell, that sells itself.
Luckily enough, Kreator managed to tap into a primal, visceral aggression that not only did the cover art justice, but also established them as contenders to be reckoned with in thrash. Borrowing liberally from Venom and Bathory but not being derivative of either, "Endless Pain" is a tour de force from beginning to end. For a 3 piece on a limited budget, there's a lot of raw power and passion here. Dirty, sinister, snarling vocals, bludgeoning, breakneck drums and a razor sharp sound from the guitar and bass set this album as a serious piece of business and something you DESPERATELY wanted to scare the shit out of your friends with.
All this you can take in at a casual first listen, but the surprising element that doesn't really strike you until later is how solid the songwriting is. It doesn't take a million listens to commit it to your memory and even pulling away from it after a first listen, stop and think - it's surprisingly well done for young kids taking their first bat in the studio. To wit, you can have all the aggression in the world, and the most violent cover art you can think of, but something Kreator noticed even then is that, unless you have good, solid, memorable songs...what's it worth?
That's what makes long lasting bands right there, and Kreator has certainly achieved that.
In the years since, "Endless Pain" has rightfully earned it's place among the ranks of legendary debuts. It's paved the way for a lot of the extreme speed, thrash and black metal acts that have followed them and it's influence cannot be denied. Against all odds, three kids from Essen, Germany managed to document a moment in extreme metal that not only gave them a solid position in the years to come, but influenced thousands of bands to follow.
There's not a slight or off moment to be found - every track here is essential listening from start to finish and surprisingly more rhythmic than you might suspect. With hooks aplenty to keep you turning the needle back, "Endless Pain" is an album that absolutely has to be owned. You don't just listen to it - you experience it. It's a monumental accomplishment and there aren't enough good things that can be said about it.
And by A.B.C. I mean: atrocious, bestial and chaotic, this album is the purest definition that can be found for the term "extreme metal", because it is fast, it's very aggressive, it's "hardcore" in that it has no 'soft moments or instrumentals' that go away from the chaos that the whole album creates, except maybe for the first 25 seconds of Dying Victims and fortunately is the last song on this album, so the album is pure aggression itself. This album was released in 1985, but it is way ahead of its time. In that year there wasn't yet any Darkness Descends, nor Reign in Blood, nor Shark Attack, nor anything like this; for 1985, this is the most merciless album that can exist (this one along with Seven Churches and maybe Sepultura's Bestial Devastation ep); however, that doesn’t mean that before 1985 there didn't exist other releases that were extreme, in 1984 Hellhammer released Triumph of Death, an homage to the most horrendous face of metal in their ep Apocalyptic Raids, and in that same year Bathory released their self titled album; although Endless Pain is more extreme than Bathory's, Bathory's album is darker and more sinister than Endless Pain. Maybe there will be people that will want to include To Mega Therion as an extreme and bestial album (same for Bulldozer's Day of Wrath), but I don't consider To Mega Therion as extreme as Seven Churches or this album (but that doesn't mean Mega Therion is bad, all the opposite, it is magnificent).
Half the album's songs have Petrozza as the main vocalist, and the other half have Ventor (the drummer) as the main vocalist, and they are arranged in a way that one song has Petrozza as vocalist and the next song has Ventor as the vocalist, which is good. Although they could have put the first 5 songs with Petrozza alone as the vocalist, and the other five with Ventor as the vocalist and that would have been good as well. Both vocalists are aggressive, and with both vocalists the album is extreme and great; however, with Petrozza leading the band, Kreator sounds like a demon that has been unleashed and is completely pissed off and determined to harm humanity, whereas Ventor sounds like a pissed off guy that has the urge to kill. The difference is in that: Ventor sounds human and pissed off (extreme thrash metal), and Petrozza sounds inhumane, fierce and pissed off (extreme black thrash metal). Both vocalists are great, I like their style, around extremeness and violence the album's music centers on. The songs that have Ventor as the vocalist are the ones that in moments slow down a little bit the speed, but then again they speed up (a thing that isn't bad at all), for example: Storm of the Beast or Cry War are songs that go relatively slow (when compared with the rest of the songs), however, after the middle of the songs they speed up again and get violent; whereas Petrozza's songs never slow down at all.
Drums sound good overall, they aren't noisy in the respect that you can listen to the rest of the instruments, they also aren't brutal or something like that but still they go well with the music, they have good production and sound good. Bass can be heard sometimes here and there (mainly in Bone Breaker), but overall what sounds the most is drums and guitars, and of course, vocals which I consider are the most remarkable thing of this album.
Another interesting point that I want to highlight is that when this was recorded, band members were 18 and 19 years old, and that is quite impressive for me. They were very young, but that didn't mean they had no clue on what they were doing, they knew what they were doing and what they wanted to prove with this album: that they would be the most extreme thrash metal band in the whole Germany; Kreator are the Germany Slayers of the teutonic trio (Destruction, Kreator and Sodom; although there is people that expand the trio to a four way including Tankard or Exumer [I am possessed by fire!]).
This album breathes and emanates bestiality, ferocity, but at the same time, love for metal. This album raises high the Flag of Hate and the flag of metal itself in general.
The Essen trio finally released their debut after a bunch of demos, by 1985, a vital year for thrash when it reached its higher level of brutality. Many legendary albums could be mentioned, from both American and European young bands tremendously influenced by Metallica, Slayer and Venom. All shared some inevitable characteristics of the subgenre early stage: lack of sophistication, immaturity and a remarkable presence of passion and energy, on other hand. There was some kind of competition to see who did the heaviest music and Kreator undoubtedly won the first prize, along with some of their compatriots who intensified sonic violence, speed and roughness like no other scene act ever did. Teutonic bestiality had begun.
The first couple of cuts speak for themselves, both straight forward extreme thrash of loose raging riffs, incredibly rapid tempos and grotesque vocals, the ideal soundtrack for headbanging. They feature no complication or meticulous development, only simplicity and attitude determined by Mille’s leading lines, which are supreme among the rest of sections, taking absolute control, although the presence of vocals is actually quite important on some sequences, at times very insistent and numerous. “Son Of Evil” or “Tormentor” might sound lyrically repetitive, for instance, with the main line omnipresent with the exception of those competent humble instrumental series. Velocity of rhythms will take your attention on those, also on most of these tunes, which are constructed by lethal riffs that demand truly fast rhythmic bases, provided by both Ventor and Rob, far from precise or even professional but good enough for this stuff. The power of classics as “Flag Of Hate” or “Living In Fear” is admirable, instrumentally they’re rather poor and primitive, not fluid and getting clumsy on some passages, however. Direction is definitely uniform, making some compositions kinda similar to each other and completely concentrated on brutality and speed, elemental characteristics that shine bright during the whole record. Surprisingly, certain tenuous touch of refinement (in their own particular way) can be found on the mellow short “Dying Victims” intro and the “Bonebreaker” riffing, that last one particularly shows signs of NWOBHM inspiration from their admired Tygers Of Pan Tang but specially Raven’s speed, but generally this all sounds much more like Venom: raw, unpolished and evil. Don’t tell me those Ventor and Mille voices aren't unnerving and sinister, pretty guttural, a prelude to death metal, although the nature of riffs is purely thrashy.
This is one of those debuts that didn't make history but featured truly outrageous thrash classics that would become obsolete soon afterwards when those young bands achieved maturity and splendor. Most of these numbers are stuck on the subgenre clichés, not offering a distinctive style yet, the identity of Kreator wasn't defined clearly yet so musically this material lacks sense and direction. They don’t make a difference from most of their Teutonic peers either, their abilities aren't extraordinary, their song-writing potential is humble and lyrical themes embrace the mid-80’s trends. However, the patterns and schemes of the band start getting notable, with that predilection for continuous riffing variations and the performance of varied instrumental passages of distinct nature and tempo. “Storm Of The Beast” specially includes the richest sequence changes, guitar lines’ alterations and diversity of rhythms, still at amateur level but proving Kreator’s primitive ambition for a bit of complexity. Sadly, they don’t have the experience and fresh ideas to conceive something superior or solid, this is an honest attempt deprived of the consistency and skills they’d later gain. Even vocals are quite comical and sloppy, both Mille and Ventor try their best but their limited range and predictable modulation contribute to make this sound even weaker, they both sound like a couple of angry teenagers, though there are some moments of clarity on which their scruffy tone fits the nature of the songs admirably, ideally. Mr. Petrozza’s potential is still discreet, check out those guitar parts which manage to create the whole musical bases of this material effectively for its musical demands but lack control and stability. Pickin’ parts are the most critical weak spot, too noisy and chaotic, far from Mille’s future brilliance.
Handicaps are numerous and keep this album from being memorable, but what this LP isn't lacking is aggression, strength and rage conceived by 3 promising musicians that needed to go through this phase to obtain a characteristic sound. Persistence of time has certainly affected these tunes so much, they’re inferior compared to the advanced stuff Kreator did later, more technical, cleaner and convincing, relegating these early songs to ostracism. Although old-school debuts always had certain magic and grace that made them absolutely entertaining, reflecting the genuine nature of the subgenre, unadulterated from later melodic/progressive trends. In conclusion, this record might not be perfect but represents the real essence of thrash.
Kreator may have been the last of the German ‘Big 3’ to storm the gates of the ever burgeoning world of thrash, but to these ears, they wiped the floor with all the material both Destruction and Sodom had up to that point released. Endless Pain is very close in aesthetic to Slayer’s debut, a driving storm of diabolical riff craft that attempts little outside of standard verse-chorus-bridge compositional dynamics. Though to be fair, the same could be said of the vast majority of thrash metal, especially the formative albums. So, when based purely on the strength of the songwriting, which is infectious enough to make you blow chunks in purulent glee, Endless Pain is a resounding success. These boys weren’t quite as technically proficient as Destruction or as filthy as Sodom, instead lurking somewhere in between, but they more than distinguished themselves with an array of riffs that sear themselves like hot iron mushroom stamps into the memory banks, and their compelling dual vocal assault served to further differentiate them. There are hints of the unique monster Kreator would become in short order, but for the most part, this is very much in the ballpark of Show No Mercy, albeit with a raw, animalistic hatred for humanity that veritably drips with bloody audible saliva.
The fast, sharp NWOBHM style riffs are nothing incredibly unique, but they’re both exciting and memorable, chopping and slicing along like shrapnel in a razor wind. This is pure-blooded thrash, through and through, though a certain aspect lends a blackened aesthetic to a number of tracks. Namely, Mille’s vocals, rasping like some reptilian monstrosity, breathing ice all over the even numbered tracks. These duties are split down the middle with drummer Ventor, who lends a slobbering, filthy Neanderthal drawl to the odds. I like Mille’s much better, as he’s been one of my favorite vocalists (and guitarists) in the medium for years, but this dynamic switch-off does wonders in keeping already fun, yet familiar songs continuously fresh. All told, it’s much more of a strength than a detriment. Mille’s riffs and solos are all primed for war, sometimes just couple simple bars, and other times fast, scathing flurries. He and bassist Robert Fioretti work in tandem to get that head banging with rippling metal might, and the production feels raw and audible enough to do the music justice, if not accentuating these calculated napalm strikes. In all regards, you never feel like you’re getting anything other than a grade A classic thrashing.
The whole experience is incredibly barbaric, at length, but therein lays the charm, a vibe and technique that would climax on Pleasure to Kill. Songs like Tormentor (why does every classic thrash band need a song called Tormentor?), Cry War, and Son of Evil just charge up with wild, violent abandon and slash your throat right out… in fact, you get that from most tracks here. Flag of Hate is also a highlight, of not only the album, but their entire career. The techniques are simple and few, but Endless Pain just exudes creepy, violent excitement the whole way through, like a pack of cave-dwelling, spear-wielding nightmare beasts relentlessly stalking you through the night, jabbering obscenities with bloodlust shining in their eyes. It’s this revelatory primacy that lends such an instinctually satisfying edge to this album, with no need to intellectualize a damn thing, just feel the power and hatred surge while Mille shreds your face into scraps.
Endless Pain is going to appeal most to those looking for good old school thrash. In fact, most people that will love this album already know it very well, but it bears repeating once again. If you’re into classic intensity like Slayer, and other Bay Area bands, but haven’t delved into the German division, this is an excellent starting point. Conversely, the new wave of thrashers might find this interesting, as it’s a building block for a lot of material today, and more specifically to see the roots of the phenomenal, yet completely different band that Kreator embody today. Endless Pain is not perfect. It’s loose, wild, and simple, and there’s nothing here that will blow your mind like dynamite in a watermelon, but it’s aged incredibly well, and is an absolutely essential addition to any self-respecting thrashers collection. That’s a claim you’ll see me make often, I’m sure, and I assure you, I mean it every goddamn time. Out of all the founders of the empire called thrash, Kreator are one of my favorites, and moreover, Endless Pain is one fantastic debut album. As to whether or not it gets a top spot in the lexicon as a whole, I’m not so sure, but it contains enough quality to continue kicking ass after nearly 30 years, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it makes us spit blood after 30 more. Timeless awesomeness: the definition of classic.
-Left Hand of Dog
There's no thrash like German thrash. Straight outta Essen comes my personal favorite of the German Thrash Triangle, Kreator, and their completely bloodthirsty debut album, "Endless Pain". How fucking cool is that title, huh? While certainly not Kreator's best, "Endless Pain" is one of the strongest starters for any thrash band ever, totally obliterating all in its path with a then unheard of rush of hardcore hooks and riffs mixed with grisly, genuinely evil vocals. Are you ready for the pain?
Kreator starts out as a trio here, with Roberto Fioretti on bass, "Ventor" on drums, and the legendary Mille Petrozza on guitars, both the latter two sharing vocal duties. Ventor's vocals are pretty vicious, but a tad bit cleaner than Mille's, whose vox are the real main attraction here. He sounds really, really pissed and flat out evil; classic raspy German growling. His guitar work is competent though nothing terribly special; even still the guy can rip and shred a riff better than you or me. Ventor's drumming is also simple and workman-like; nothing terribly creative but he has pummel the kit like a jackhammer on crack. Speed magic! And then we have Fioretti's invisible bass, which is so low in the mix I can't properly review it. Moving on.
There are 10 songs on this album. Ten songs that are are fucking awesome as fuck, and if you don't think they are awesome, then you are weak as fuck, plain and poseur simple. While the record is plagued a bit by a lack of variation and some repetition, they all still manage to kick in one way or another. The opening title track rips with untamable Ventor vocals and one hell of a riff that starts up a bit after the minute mark. Or we have "Tormentor", killing all with its clean hyperspeed and the hooky chanting of the title. Beware of "Bone Breaker", another catchy mini-thrasher that mixes speedy brutality with some cool melody in the verses. Maybe you could "TRY...TO RAISE...THE FLAG...OF HAAAATE!!!" and rip a hole through your neighbor's house with help from Petrozza's throaty death growls and more catchy chainsaw riffage. Watch out for the "Storm of the Beast" and its immense chorus and demonic time changes.
Overall, this is pure death-to-poseur, high-thrashing venom right here. Sure there is the lack of variety and a sense of inexperience, but you're not gonna care much when you're being ear-fucked by this many quality riffs and uber-aggressive thrashing. Recommended for you, and highly recommended for your neighbors!
“…in the name of Satan spread all your fear…”
Pleasure to Kill is a favorite of many, me included, but it’s possible without this album’s gift of more stringent structuring and adept songwriting coming first, PTK as a debut may have come off as an infantile, pointless frenzy (some say it already is, but hey) of sonic noise. With Endless Pain, Kreator built a full-on thrash foundation that they could go a few places with: pull it back a few notches or haul off and belt everyone with an effort even more bulldozing. Unlike Sodom and Destruction, there was no initial ep for which to test the waters, so Endless Pain became the trial by fire. And of course we know what happened. PTK is an intense, speed-concentrated endeavor that may be too chaotic for some listeners, and rightfully so those people gravitate more toward this or the slabs following their sophomore effort. Sure, some albums are going to be better than others, but nothing on this lp should be overlooked or dragged through the mud.
Which band of the unholy trinity of kraut thrash is better is a royal toss-up. At first glance with debut eps/lps, Sodom is the most unhinged and barbaric. Destruction is chaotic, yet manage to inject their brand of bedlam with rough intricacy. Kreator, the last of the trio to groove vinyl, is thrash most fearsome with a penchant for solid structures and possess an ingredient hardly any other metal band can raise a hand to: not only two members that can sprain lungs equally, but a pair of guttural voices that are easily distinguishable between one another.
“…the voices of hell sound so nice…”
The pitchfork vocal attack is indeed a factor that sheds a more adoring light on the three-piece; Mille’s voice a tattered wind of raw shrieks cursing “Tormentor”, “Flag of Hate”, and “Total Death” while Ventor’s thicker, excavated-from-the-gullet broadcast crushes “Son of Evil”, the title cut, and “Cry War”. The fact he’s a singing drummer is more oddball.
Launching the lp is the title cut, a viscous, quickly-picked seminar on German thrash taught brashly by the forceful chorus. Ventor diabolically laughs in the pupils’ astonished faces. “Total Death” rings in with a similar velocity, but by midway is accosted by a semi-trudging riff for variety, and a victorious chorus (that, yes, does resemble the chorus of “Strike of the Beast”, but isn’t exactly a beacon of far-flung songwriting where no one else would’ve concocted it) finds the highlight reel. Mild double bass tousles “Storm of the Beast” out of hibernation, a piece of thrash flesh red and white with rashes of speed and blotches of slower, more protracted tempos. “Tormenter” takes those tamed blotches and infects them with the seething rapid pace of the other tracks, but low and behold “Son of Evil” enjoys those unhurried strides and summons them back for a bit, but are ultimately overpowered by generous momentum.
“Flag of Hate” waves side two in motion, another rough n’ tumble track that I feel pales to its brutal, thick-wristed revamp on the not-yet-released Flag of Hate ep. “Cry War” interchanges a methodically lethargic verve with one of the most simple, yet polevaulting main riffs on the disk that jaunts directly into the chorus. “Bonebreaker” with Mille’s scalding vox is no slouch in either the riff or propulsion areas, and “Living in Fear” only further ignites the fervor with a pair of dramatic intro-riffs, bestial cry for war, and a main rhythm that spends some time on the savagely epic stage. “Dying Victims” is a pretty basic thrash track except for the quick pounding section backing one of the solos and the slightly slower one that finishes both song and album.
With a name that could have easily doubled as Creator both audibly and definitively, Kreator handed us a chief thrash affair on a blistered palm, an affair that’s quite unlike most of the thrash talent that roamed not only the area, but also the galaxy. Next year’s Flag of Hate ep would show us where they were headed…and Ventor laughs some more.
Mille Petrozza and company might not have been the first to the well, but their debut as Kreator would arrive soon enough to join the rank and file of Sodom and Destruction among the earlier, major German thrash releases (post-demo stage). Formed a few years prior as Tormentor, with the members in their teens, the band had been jamming on covers, performing a few odd gigs, and releasing a few tapes, one of which caught the ear of Noise Records guru Karl Walterbach, who promptly signed them and asked them to change their name (legal reasons). Kreator had been born, Endless Pain was produced, and though it might not hold a candle to much of the band's 1986-1990 catalog, it's still quite impressive considering the age of the roster and the crude crunch of the writing.
From a technical standpoint, I might place this somewhere between In the Sign of Evil and Sentence of Death in both songwriting quality and musicianship. It's not quite so blistering and bedazzling as Destruction's EP, but a little more involved than the punkish hymns of Angel Ripper. The rather unique, expressive architecture of Mille's chord selection was already in place, even though it wasn't nearly as refined as Pleasure to Kill or Terrible Certainty, and his harsh, barking vocals weren't unlike Angel Ripper's in that they'd later become a major influence upon the emergent black metal scene. Indeed, Sodom and Kreator are very often considered proponents of the 'first wave' of that genre, and that's a distinction I certainly won't argue with here. However, aside from the intro riff to "Total Death" sounding a little like "Mad Butcher", and carrying a similar leather & bullet belts image to Destruction, there was something fresh, bludgeoning and unique about this young band that foreshadowed their ascent.
The vocals are an immediate highlight of the title track, a sadistic glaze over its rippling, busy guitars and the steady crashing of Ventor's drums. Rob Fioretti's bass might not have been a major factor here, but the thick pulse would at least offer some concrete support to the chords. The construction of the notes was easily on a level plane with what was coming out of California, even if the band were not writing hits of Kill 'Em All or Show No Mercy caliber. In particular, I'd call out "Tormentor" and the epic "Flag of Hate" as the real hits here, the former hailing from their demo days under their previous moniker, the latter good enough to get its own EP release, with tearing, radioactive guitars and a killer bridge hook. However, there are other pleasures here like the brute "Bone Breaker", with its hilariously blunt chorus verse, or the cutting velocity of "Son of Evil" in which Mille warps his vocals into a higher, screaming velocity not unlike old Slayer or Whiplash.
A few tunes don't exactly rise to the occasion, like "Cry War" or "Storm of the Beast" (with a title like that, I wanted it to be better), but there are no real hangups even on a complete listen one quarter century post-release. It's superior to In the Sign of Evil, as there's simply more to hear and the guitar patterns feel more bloodied and aggressive, but not quite a match for the riffs of Sentence of Death. However, I do like the production here more than either of those EPs. Even before the touching up in re-releases, it sounded fresh and as if the band were due a successful future. As it turns out, fate would deliver countless tours and further label deals, but as the time, Mr. Petrozza and his stalwarts were thrilled just to produce an album in their teens, and that enthusiasm and vibrancy is omnipresent in this recording.
Released back in the glory days of thrash - that is, the mid-eighties - this was the REAL beginning of Teutonic thrash. Forget Infernal Overkill; even that masterpiece pales in comparison to the giant known as Endless Pain. Never before had a band taken their hatred and violence to such an astounding level. Fast, brutal, and above all, skilled musicianship abounds in this 1985 monster. There's no shortage of menacing riffs and shredding solos, the drumming suffocates, and the guitar and bass obliterate. All of this is possible due to a truly crushing production job.
The vocals in particular destroy everything in their path. Mille is Hell's equivalent of Jesus; he can be no other than the Devil incarnate. He's at his most demonic here, showing elements of what would become death and black metal, and on no other album does he sound so purely blasphemous. His growling is made all the more frightening by the fact that one can still decipher the lyrics - which are, by the way, evil at its best. Unfortunately, he would lose a bit of the deathliness of his vocals on subsequent releases.
Each and every song is worth a listen (hell, they deserve WAY more than that), and no track is weaker than any other. The most memorable may be the title track, "Total Death," "Flag of Hate," "Tormentor," and "Bone Breaker." An honorable mention goes to "Dying Victims," which opens with a pretty interesting bass solo.
The guitar solos are somewhat atypical for shredders; they are actually highly memorable. Some are fairly long, which in this case is a huge plus. They're extremely intricate and equally deadly and effective. This album's solos are some of the best thrash has to offer, which is saying a lot in a genre known for its solos. Rob Fioretti deserves major credit for his bass playing. Instead of quietly following the guitar as bass players are prone to do in metal, he plays fairly loud and independently, sometimes rivaling the guitar itself. The drumming is also very sound. Always precise, always powerful, Ventor redefines just how fast and how well one can play the drums. The instrumentation along with Mille's Satanic vocal delivery adds up to a completely devastating listening experience.
Endless Pain marks the beginning of a five-album trend of nearly perfect brutal thrash metal. From here all the way up to Coma of Souls, Kreator would make a name for themselves as the head of the death/thrash movement. Though they later became a band of inconsistent quality, for now they were at the top of their game.
The 1985 Kreator’s debut is a fucking brutal assault. The thrash influences are preponderant but we can find death ones also because the group seems really bad ass, pissed off with the rest of the world and the violence of execution is inhuman for the period. With the title track we can really taste the group’s essence, made of thousands guitars riffs, restless drumming and the screamed vocals by Mille.
It was so hard to do this kind of metal at the beginning of the 80s and they were surely the precursors of a new form, a new conception of extreme music. The pure thrash metal was the main genre at the time but this goes beyond, for sure. “Total Death” has in it riffs directly taken from Destruction’s “Mad Butcher” and Exodus’ “Strike Of The Beast” during the refrain. Funny! Here the vocals are on the borderline between thrash and black! Unbelievable.
The mid paced parts finally come from the third track, “Storm Of The Beast” with a great galloping guitars work, more various than in the previous tracks. This song is definitely more “pure thrash” but as you know, also the production contributes in creating a gloomier sound that sometimes can be categorized as death metal. The solos are very similar in these songs but terribly good without being technical or melodic. They can be seen as simple free rein in pure Slayer style with shredded parts.
“Tormentor” is a piece of death/thrash history that still nowadays is played in every single gig by Mille and Co. The main riff is really old school thrash. The sequence “Son Of Evil”- “Flag of Hate” really takes your breath away reducing you to ashes. I thank a lot the mid paced beginning to “Cry War” because I was almost exhausted…I longed for peace and quite but the punkish, Sodom-inspired refrain pushed another nail in my already bleeding head.
To say nothing of the speed/thrash blast of “Bonebraker” and “Living Fear”…pure madness. This is where groups like Sepultura, Death, Obituary and many, many others took inspiration to set up their music. This is a piece of history and the true beginning of the mythical, worldwide known GERMAN THRASH.
So this is the debut album of one of the most influential and aggressive thrash bands ever. This band makes Slayer sound like wimps. They're a lot more aggressive and overral better than Slayer as well. Speaking of Slayer, this album reminds me alot of Slayer's Show No Mercy. Just l;ike that album, It has a very raw and NWOBHM-ish sound to it. However, just about every song on here is fast, angry, and most of all evil. To add to it, this album features two vocalists. The first one being Ventor who amazingly also plays drums here. Then, we have the second and better fitted singer for this band, Mille. He sings with a black metalish style, and on this album, it fits perfectly.
Amongst the highlights here are the title track, Total Death, Tormentor, Flag of Hate, and Bonebreaker. Bonebreaker oddly has a fun punkish sound to it, but it still has monster riffs. The other songs are raging thrashers that you must headbang to. Mille's vocals are what really makes this album great. I mean, his voice just fits the music almost perfectly. Ventor isn't too shabby either, though. Another thing about Kreator is that whenever they play fast songs, they never fail to impress, but whenever they play slower songs, it always sounds a bit dull and uninteresting. Dying Victims is a great example. It's not a bad song, but it's just not as bloddy awesome as the other songs on this album.
If you're a fan of raw sounding thrash ala Kill 'Em All or Show No Mercy, or just love very aggressive thrash, then by all means get this album. Sure, it's no Pleasure to Kill or Coma of Souls, but it's sure as hell worth your time.
Kreator started their career right away on a very high note with "Endless Pain", a pretty damn brutal release for 1985. German thrash is general was raging at the time, led mainly by this band and Destruction, though the latter were more into the raw early black metal than the proto-death of Kreator, though they were really basically doing the same thing - tearing your face off with vicious, raw and aggressive thrashing riffage, and Kreator definitely standing out as the better of the two, at least around 1985, the time of Destruction's somewhat uninspired "Infernal Overkill" LP.
"Endless Pain" just never stops to kick your ass, and shows an incredibly young and unexperienced but hungry and inspired trio of evil thrashers, wanting nothing more than to kick the asses of countless fans with lyrics that tell of evil, bloody and brutal subjects, and riffs enhancing that atmosphere, in a band originally started as a less-than-serious pastime.
As they were still quite young and unexperienced, there's a noticable lack of variety in between the songs, and some of it is slightly less memorable than what the bay area was doing at the time, for example, when monsters like "Bonded By Blood" for example were coming out. And speaking of which - the choruses of Kreator's "Total Death" and Exodus' "Strike of the Beast"... "Try! To run! Or hide! From the death!" VS "Try! To run! Or fight! Off the strike! Of the beast" With the exact same vocal melody. Who ripped off who? I don't care, cause both sound awesome.
But anyway. This slight lack of variety does little to hurt the album, cause what it lacks for in that factor it more than makes up for in plain awesome riffage. "Tormentor", for example, is the best fucking song on here, and that main riff is in total "Bonded By Blood" or "Kill 'Em All" style, catchy as fuck, while the rest of the song brutalizes you completely. This album does that pretty damn well, bringing out quite a few really catchy and simultaneously crushing riffs. Other examples would be "Cry War" and "Son of Evil", but it's all pretty fucking good.
Other highlights are "Storm of the Beast", which has some wicked tempo changes, and the short but sweet "Bonebreaker" with a catchy, fast power chord main riff almost sounding like something out of the NWOBHM. And of course the headbanging madness of "Flag of Hate", probably the second greatest track on here. But really, there ain't a single weak song in the bunch, so if you like your early raw, brutal death/thrash from the infamous Germany, then you just cannot possibly go wrong with this, and the fact that their English was quite incompetent at the time (see review title - quote from "Son of Evil") just adds to the charm of early Kreator.
"Endless Pain", eh? The title says it all, kids. It happened in 1985, when three German Metal lads - Mille, Ventor and Rob - had to be driven to Berlin (since they were all underage) to record their debut album. With no studio experience at all, they spent 10 days in the studio, put all their effort into it, and the album was done.
The recording quality isn't exactly the best, as the guitars are pretty thin and the drums and vocals often overpower the rest. At times the playing is not too solid, and seldom it gets downright sloppy. Mille and Ventor share vocal duties on the record, and while the former tries a raspy, Black Metal influenced vocal assault and the second prefers a more strightforward raucous scream, both of them are quite lacking in coherence and pronunciation.
So how can we describe the final result? REALLY FUCKING INTENSE.
Most people (about 99%) go stright to "Pleasure to Kill" when it comes to early Kreator material, and I completely second that. Nevertheless, I strongly doubt that there could have been any "Pleasure To Kill" without this somewhat underrated debut. From the unlistenable quality of the clumsy Tormentor demos to being part of the German Thrash Trinity, this was a required step. And even if we forget about its historical significance, "Endless Pain" is solid at the very least. After all this is Kreator, which stands for intensity, energy, aggression and so on.
Despite being the least known of Kreator's winning five (albums from "Endless Pain" to "Coma Of Souls", for the newly initiated), this album yelded some classics anyway, the first in line being of course "Tormentor", precious heritage of the band's humble beginnings. This is the shortest song of the album and represents what Kreator stands for, with its malicious riffs and ceaseless speed. It will remain a cornerstone in the band's live set for years to come, and rightfully so. "Flag of Hate" is another favourite... short drum intro, and here we go, blazing riff after riff all the way till the end. It's when you listen to this couple of tracks that you can see "Pleasure To Kill" approaching on the horizon; still, the rest of the album isn't exactly a letdown.
First, I have to mention the album's amazing kick-in-the-balls opening, achieved thanks to two back-to-back Thrash jewels. "Endless Pain" begins without warning with the furious title track, which immediately assaults the listener with its frantic riffage and Ventor's angriest screams. This must have been on heavy rotation in the Necrodeath boys's stereos when they recorded their debut, "Into The Macabre".
"Endless Pain" finishes with a pre-"Reign In Blood" Slayer worshipping riff, but there's hardly a moment of rest as "Total Death" is next. More riffs, more aggression, more malignant moods. By this pont you've already realized that this album takes no prisoners.
And now, ladies and gentlemen... enter "Storm Of The Beast", the longest track of the lot. This has a slower opening, an dthen alternates fast verses with a crushing mid-tempoed chorus. Of course, all the riffs range from good to amazing. And did I mention that the choruses on this album manage to be catchy and intense at the same time?
I mentioned overlooked cuts earlier, and it's time to do them justice. "Bonebreaker" is one of them, a song which had already appeared on the "End Of The World" demo, only made FASTER this time. The riffs are mindblowing, and take this song almost up there with "Tormentor" in my ranking (not quite at the same height but extremely close). This is also the home to my favourite solo on the album.
"Cry War" is another demo era revenant, once again made faster and tighter. This one alternates between and square 4/4, Celtic Frosty midpaced riff and the usual flat out Thrash attack. Ventor screaming "CRY WAAARR!!" in the chorus epitomizes the rawness of this record pretty well, and who gives a shit if his attempt at a evil laugh sounds more like a cough than anything else. You can always go for "Images And Words" if you crave something more refined; still, the honest hard work behind this album cannot be mistaken.
"Living in Fear" is another blistering little skullcrusher, the second shortest song on the record; after the second chorus it goes into a great instrumental section full of pretty melodic riffs and completed by yet another damn good solo. "Son of Evil" also destroys... great mid-tempoed break after the first verse, with some funny lyrics ("Deny the father, deny the mother / Burning the sister, poison the brother"!?), followed by more killer riffage. "Dying Victims" provides the grand finale, with a classy melodic overture and then frantic riffage all the way to the end.
Wow, this was one hell of a ride. This album definitely deserves more attention that it gets, people. It is a faithful document of the birth of a Metal legend (Kreator are essential, whether you like it or not), a promising effort brought forth by a young and extremely determined band. The reissue also features the four "End Of The World" demo songs as bonus tracks, so you really have no excuse for skipping it... unless you hate Thrash - and especially GOOD thrash -, but I know you don't.
TIME!! TO RAISE!! THE FLAG!! OF HATE!!
Quick clarification ... the title of this review comes from a live bootleg where a certain song is introduced as "The most special death... is... Total Death!"
Anyway, moving along. This is a great debut from the German thrash masters Kreator. It's raw as fuck, and not quite as "grab you by the fucking throat, spin you upside down, and make you meet your maker 245 times a minute" as Pleasure to Kill, but it is certainly no slouch. It also has one of the most simply awesome album titles ever. "What are you listening to?" ENDLESS PAIN!!!! Doesn't get more Fucking Metal than that.
For the most part, this is very fast thrash with death-metal overtones (especially in the riff work, I hear a lot of old Sepultura or old Death in this), but at times it becomes an all-out raging thrasher, with the addition of monster counterpoint riffs. The best example of this is, the best song on here, "Storm of the Beast". Behold the chorus riff. Fear the chorus riff. All those caught not banging their heads will be shoved eyeballs-first into a fucking oven.
Also... "Take their Lives" has some great riffs in the verses, and "Total Death" is quite... special... yes. "Dying Victims" is just so fucking fast, and "Cry War" has that Artillery-esque total drop in speed, which is really well done. Textbook European thrash here. All the songs are really well done. Mille's vocals aren't quite as evil as on the next few albums, but they definitely go well with the material.
Overall, this is the first in a series of incredibly good Kreator albums - they would, for a few years anyway, do absolutely no wrong.