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Phenomenal debut - 95%

Dead1, February 18th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Futurist (Reissue)

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.