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Kreator’s debut didn’t really make a big difference from most of early thrash releases, if we refer to what European groups were doing. Obviously, their music had much more vicious brutality than anything Americans were playing. But Endless Pain is quite similar to most of the first wave of Teutonic thrash works, Mille and co. would become bigger and acclaimed with later material. They didn’t reach the brilliance of Coma Of Souls in one day, a long tough process came first necessarily to improve and refine their primitive ways and get rid of those inevitable amusing clichés of the subgenre. This EP was a little step forward, a fine prelude to Pleasure To Kill, though still unpolished.
This one consists of 3 tracks, enough to reflect certain progression of their sound. Expect no astonishing improvement on other hand, their music is still stuck in the reduced concept of speed and aggression of the early thrash stage. That means you will find simple riffing plenty of energy and violence, immature lyrics, instrumental simplicity and rather humble solos…thrash was never intended to be clean and precise in the beginning, as this stuff proves. The title-track for instance represents that unadulterated purity, with that insistent straight riff, Mille’s grotesque vocals and a very basic structure that varies a couple of times maximum during the tune. It’s not the complexity, it’s the fury and rage of their musical creation what must be highlighted. Actually, they sound more solid here, compared to the kinda chaotic debut material. Their skills and potential remain the same, although it seems for this EP Mille and co. performed a much serious advanced effort (in their own way) whose result speaks for itself. Amazingly passionate raw thrash, at times surprising and pretentious as lengthier compositions like “Awakening Of The Gods” and “Take Their Lives” demonstrate. Both still aggressive and direct, with a much diverse configuration, more elaborated leading riffs and richer arrangements. More complicated numbers that feature a clear determination from these guys to make something bigger and more difficult, aware of their possibilities. Instrumentally, they might be still clumsy and lacking consistency, but the little improvement is remarkable, it makes clear they were aware of the need to not get stagnant in the same musical patterns for long.
These songs won’t be remembered as the most memorable thing the Teutonic thrashers did, but they contributed enormously to make Kreator evolve into something superior and more challenging. They already used to try kinda hard structures and intricate riff alterations in those early years, with not spectacular results, though at least they proved their will to escape from simplicity and repetition. One thing is clear, there are truly rough moments here, when Mille’s guitar lines attack outrageous and lethal particularly, while some of the riffing variations are rather sloppy on other hand, so there’s no lack of intensity or brutality but a clear absence of instrumental experience. Very similar weak spots we would find on the following record Pleasure To Kill that you can conceive as handicaps or characteristic elements of Kreator. Unpolished, dirty, scruffy and sometimes silly, this passionate attempt might be musically poor, although plenty of attitude and energy, even if Mille’s angry teenager voice, Rob and Ventor’s discreet rhythmic support and the whole direction and schemes are an evident expression of immaturity. After all, we are talking about a group of 20 year old beginners in the business, so all of that came as no surprise. They were young but they clearly knew how they wanted it: heavy and bestial, these 3 cuts include the influence of their admired Venom, Celtic Frost and Slayer; however, they add their own unique characteristics to reflect their personality and character and make something original, rather than being just another vain tribute group. Unfortunately, they couldn’t afford a better production yet, so expect no strenghtful presence of instruments, a correct balance or rich atmosphere either (Ralf Hubert wasn’t Randy Burns).
No perfection, no sophistication, a lot of power and motivation are what define these 3 fine compositions. Actually, they were from the greatest stuff Kreator would record in their glorious first years, included in their set-list on stage during the whole decade, until they reached next level. The band wouldn’t evolve specially until Tritze joined them, supporting Mille’s guitar lines and building together a stronger wall of sound on the impressive album Terrible Certainty. Back in 1986, the Essen trio had a long way to go before becoming the biggest European thrash act. Without this EP and the rest of old stuff, they wouldn’t have got so far, for sure.
After the surprising debut Endless Pain, anticipation was running wild for whatever the young band Kreator could come up with next; how their raw, brutal but accessible sound would evolve. So Noise Records issued this three-song EP to tease fans for a few months before the arrival of the band's landmark sophomore, Pleasure to Kill. Flag of Hate has by now been issued in numerous formats, and most will own the tracks as a part of the Pleasure to Kill re-issue CD, but it's original European incarnation had but three songs: "Flag of Hate", which we'd already been flattened with on the debut, and then a pair of longer pieces which would be the true gist of why anyone might want to hunt this down.
I speak, of course, of "Take Their Lives" and "Awakening of the Gods", both of which are quite mandatory if you're at all enamored of the band's first three albums. The former is an aggressive brute which opens with a series of two fisted, mid paced thrash riffs in the verse, wonderfully fused to Mille's barking, and a solid chorus. The track is eerily representative of the direction the band would take for Terrible Certainty, their third long-player. "Awakening of the Gods" is the more sprawling track, 7 1/2 minutes long, the most ambitious of the band to date, with a drawn, warlike intro sequence that transmutes into a disgusting splatter of dense, meaty fast thrash that feels more like the body of work that wound up on Pleasure to Kill. The chorus is a little underwhelming, but the riffs betwixt these and the bridge breakdown/lead do compensate, and ultimately it's a worthwhile addition to their catalog.
As for whether this is worth tracking down or not, well, it's almost a moot discussion. Those just interested in the contents can easily snatch them up elsewhere with a killer full-length album to boot, and even the cover image is included. As a collector's item, there's a certain nostalgia for a title like this, that while later rendered irrelevant, once contained some promising new material that you couldn't find elsewhere. "Take Their Lives" and "Awakening of the Gods" would be well worth acquiring to that rare Kreator fan who has only an original LP of Pleasure to Kill or Endless Pain, and Flag of Hate on the whole would make a nice gem on any collector's shelf, if they're concerned with the authenticity of original pressings. Otherwise, not much value to the article itself.
The EP that followed the Pleasure To Kill album is considered by many a real small cult for the extreme scene of the 80s. To put out this EP Kreator didn’t wait even a year from the first album and this Flag of Hate is made of three tracks. Two of them immediately catch the eye for their length that is much higher than the usual standard by Kreator. By the way, this Flag Of Hate is remarkable also for another aspect: the music. First of all, we start from the production that is now a bit less chaotic and raw than the one of the first album. The drums, especially, have acquired a sharper touch and they are far more audible. The snare drum is finally higher in volumes.
Another thing we can notice is the songs’ structure. Even a fast one the title track is better developed thanks also to thrasher riffs and less common, childish brutality. The riffs are far better and more mature, taking more influences from the classic thrash. This song is finally a good way to hear a brutal load through different and more complete structures. The violence gains lots of point thanks to these parts and it’s more convincing and blowing. The following “Take Their Lives” is a long semi mid-paced track with some faster restarts. The riffs are more mature and the thrash/speed parts are concentrated on the faster sections. The solos conserve that bestial, chaotic style but we can find an evolution here too. In some parts they are better in style and technique, they’re more polished and the breaks are even more melodic.
A special mention is for the vocals by Mille. They changed a bit in style and they follow the new style of the music. They are far less impulsive and fast, with fewer intentions in following the too fast patterns. They are more pissed off and better in power and personality. The open chords riffs on the longer parts are almost a new thing for this band and the solo lines behind them are good to the atmosphere in order to give variety to the already good tracks. If you listen to the following “Awakening of Kings” we can find even dissonant riffs and galloping parts. This style is the one that this band will follow on the future albums. The violence always lies on several up tempo parts but they are different from the recent parts and they are different in a good way.
The band finally returned to good levels and their technique at the instruments brought them to compose better songs with a stronger songwriting. The variety is far more present and the maturity is coming out. Another thing to notice is the catchiness of these songs that is a direct reflex of the maturity that, as I said, was emerging and we cannot find boring or derivative riffs anymore! It’s incredible how much Kreator grew in a one year period and this is where they choose a less impulsive path to follow, signing officially the road to the very good albums of the end of the 80s-beginning of the 90s. If Pleasure To Kill let you down or simply it was too extreme for you, check this one instead to enjoy these compositions.
After the release of the brutal and very influential Pleasure to Kill, no one knew what this glorious band from Essen would do to top PKT. Their answer to that: this nice little record consisting on three tracks (six if you got the reissue). This record demonstrate us a change in Kreator, the pace was more varied and the vocals were lower than the regular vocals Kreator used at that time.
The guitar tone in this record is as sick as hell, but for the first time in Kreator we can see some melody in the guitars. The song lengths are longer than those of the first two releases. In this record the drums are heavier and thicker than in PTK, and the bass is almost inaudible, but is there and really complement the drums and guitars.
Flag of Hate already appeared on Endless Pain, but this version is heavier, faster and the vocals have more of a death metal touch. Also this version have more of a death metal feeling than the version on Endless Pain, who have more black metal traits.
Awakening of the Gods starts with heavy guitars and strange drums that lead into the agressive vocals of Mille Petrozza. In this song there are some black metal traits commonly found in Endless Pain. It is over 7:30 minutes long, but don't worry, you would not get bored in any second of this song.
Take their Lives is one of the heaviest song I ever heard from Kreator. It is not too fast but it will keep your head banging. The solos on this song are the typical Kreator solos, with a lot of tremolo picking and whammy bar.
If you like the agression and brutality of Pleasure to Kill, but also the melody and variety of Terrible Certainty, try to get this ep!
"...you know you're helpless till the end of time..."
Flag of Hate enters the fold aurally pissed and thrown into circulation as a fully formed bridge to a place not yet realized, let alone built. It surveys the situation. Peering back at its rear foundation, the ep chokes on poisonous smoke billowing from still standing and smoldering “Tormenter”, “Endless Pain”, and “Total Death” – three gasket-blown brutes given longevity on this six-tracker (this is the Combat bridge, by the way) to continue twisting solid steel like damp sponges. Looking ahead, the ep sees nothing in sight and nowhere to stand. No place for construction. Yet floating deeply downwind is a dangerously gassy spore, an aroma harmfully sweet like the pre-ignition fumes of a flamethrower or a leaking oil tanker that seems ready to blow. And there’s a palpable rumbling in the cavern below, the personal thunder of some vast entity still shielded from the human eye. Something’s awakening here, something transcendentally bestial, something that can ensnarl with Endless Pain-like vengeance but is further choked by the thick bile of authentic severity. It’s bile black and congealed, and happens to lovingly decorate Lord Intensity’s sunroom. In its path to full power, this unknown organism from below possesses body and soul an old soldier in Kreator’s armed forces while breeding a pair of new life forms in barbed and blistered test tubes.
With possession comes vivification, and this hellion roars the true fury of Kreator.
“Flag of Hate” is reborn on this ep, unchained, given breath by what boils up to an event of an even more malicious Kreator than the one that penned the perilous Endless Pain, an album that was far from shackled, but in light of this unexpected uncoiling of might suddenly seems so. The tormented, but somewhat unsure stride of the original now stampedes on all fours, bristling with an explosive intensity rivaled by few and envied by many. It’s thrash’s simple pill, intensity pure and dominating, amplified by a production massive and full-throttle. “Take Their Lives” gallantly flies off in a different direction. With a lurching and serrated main riff, this cryptic commandment is incendiary, menacing with a bottom end that crunches against the rocks of the canyon floor below while gearing up for the thick gargle of speed-shifting mania and bludgeoned bombardment that is “Awakening of the Gods”, probably the band’s only ‘epic’ to date. Mille sticks all three tracks under his bullet belt, his acid-corroded bray inventing new sounds most leprous and tortured, a craftsman of the art of crazy vocals.
Three tracks would’ve been just fine, but for the US version they decided to throw the three aforementioned Endless Pain tracks into the scrimmage, in original unhallowed glory, enjoyable to the Americans who missed their tumultuous debut.
Not only is Flag of Hate a bridge to Kreator’s more inner-serving, feral din much in the way Expurse of Sodomy links Sodom to thrash’s more precise and intricate level, it’s a gangplank to the future implosion of contemporary music, exemplifying what lurked just over the horizon, what waited in ambush for the construction crew on the shore ahead. It’s also three dudes cementing themselves into the three-pronged Teutonic warmachine that makes laborious Kraut rock seem more and more like a squaredance.
And what is this red-eyed entity that has awakened? Who is this hellion?
Pleasure to Kill
Starts off with even “worse” production than Pleasure to Kill, but this album/EP has tormentor on it, so you cannot complain. I like Pleasure to Kill more, but this album has value, and you have to excuse them for minor things because it’s a really early EP. The song Flag of Hate is a lot of fast screaming with some great inaudible riffs in the middle. It’s rough around the edges, also not leaving one second for you to recover from the thrashy madness. The drums sound very loud and the double bass is amazing, having this bubbly sound to it. The sound is really open, but still closed, like being recorded in a small room with the resonance of a warehouse, the sound goes everywhere, but is still closed…
Take Their Lives has a great thrashy intro with a killer riff. Mille enters with his typical dissonant black/thrash vocals. It’s a midpaced thrasher, with some awesome guitar fills and interesting rhythm. The feel is harsh, commanding, yet desperate, trying to get something he can’t… reaching out somehow, especially in the last part where he screams “Take their liiiiiiiiiiiiiiveesss”. The song changes completely in the middle, to a little faster paced thrash, with a lovely dissonant solo in it. The advantage of the album is that it just gets better and better, through the fast attack Awakening the Gods, and Endless Pain, which seems to have different vocals on it, or at least altered Mille vocals. The classic Tormentor is on this too, which is even better live, cus he uses more growly vocals rather than the high vocals on here… Total Death is in the same vein as Tormentor, but with more poisonous vocals….
This mini EP pushes three songs; two of the three being over six minutes long. That really doesn't matter though when you spin it. This EP offers pure fucking German thrash metal. Since it is pretty short, I will review each song to give the EP justice.
The song Flag of Hate is rather short, compared to the other songs on this album. It starts off super fast, like good thrash tends to do, and never slows down. The guitar riffs are stellar and the drummer does a good job of throwing in some beats that seem off, yet everyone still stays on beat. Even after the chorus's the song never looks to slow down. Add this in with some hate filled thrash vocals and a Slayerish solo towards the end and you got a damn good thrash song.
Take Their Lives and Awakening of the gods never made it to a full-length album, but they have a lot to offer. Take Their Lives isn't a super fast song, but it carries a pack full of decent thrash riffs. The vocals shine on this song, as they do on this EP, and are sometimes growled like (especially towards the end of sentences). After three minutes and some, the song slows down and shows off some more good guitar playing. The song appropriately ends with a solo after six minutes of bang your head thrash.
Awakening of the gods is another one of those good songs, that never cut it to the real time, but deserve to be there. Of course the guitar playing is awesome on this song, giving us a lot of good thrash riffs. But what stuck out in my mind the most on this song was the drumming. It seems to be louder on this track, then on the other two. Trying to keep a tempo for these fast songs while adding drum fills seems impossible, but this guy gets it done. The song goes through some tempo changes and turns out to be an overall great thrash song, but I think they over did it making the song seven minutes and thirty seconds long.
Overall, three awesome German thrash metal songs that every metal head would enjoy. Production is kind of weak at times, unless you get the EP with the Pleasure to Kill re-release, then I would imagine the quality being better. Still though, great thrash metal for all time!!!