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Two sets of pipes, strong structures and Germany - 88%

Gutterscream, May 4th, 2011
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Noise Records

“…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.