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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 the pretense of this album’s gift of stringent structuring and adept songwriting, PTK as a debut may have come off as an infantile, pointless frenzy (some say it is regardless, but hey...) of sonic machinery. With Endless Pain, Kreator built a full-on thrash foundation that they could go a few places with: pull it back a few notches for the lovely radio-friendly market 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 their trial by fire. Of course PTK is an intense, speed-concentrated whirl of serrated steel that may be too chaotic for some listeners, and rightfully so these people gravitate more toward this lp or the eventual slabs that would follow said sophomore effort.

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 manage to inject their brand of bedlam with a rough intricacy that would improve over time. Kreator, the last of the trio to groove vinyl, is thrash most fearsome, yet has a penchant for solid structures and possesses an ingredient hardly any other metal band can raise a hand to - not only do Kreator have two members spraining lungs equally, but the pair of guttural voices are easily distinguishable from one another. And hell, one's the drummer.

“…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 as Mille’s voice is a tattered wind of raw shrieks that curse “Tormentor”, “Flag of Hate”, and “Total Death”, meanwhile Ventor’s thicker, excavated-from-the-gullet broadcast crushes “Son of Evil”, “Cry War” and the title cut, the latter of which, with its brashly forceful chorus, launches the lp like a viscous, quickly-picked seminar on German thrash. Ventor laughs diabolically in the faces of astonished onlookers who haven't a clue what they've gotten themselves into. “Total Death” rings in with a similar velocity, then is accosted by the variety of quasi-trudging riffage, meanwhile a victorious chorus (that, yes, does resemble the chorus of Exodus' “Strike of the Beast”, but let's face the fact that it isn’t quite the beacon of far-flung songwriting where no one else would’ve come up with it) finds the highlight reel. Mild double bass tousles “Storm of the Beast” out of hibernation, a piece of fleshy thrash that's blotched red and white from rashes of speed and tempos of a slower, more protracted nature. “Tormenter” takes those tamer blotches and infects them with the rapid pace many of these tracks succumb to. Then it just so happens that “Son of Evil” summons back what some of those unhurried strides churn up, then surges onward on the tide the lp's generous momentum has provided.

“Flag of Hate” waves side two into motion, another rough n’ tumble track that will eventually pale 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. Vocally scalded by Mille is “Bonebreaker”, one of the lp's many tunes slouchless in the areas of riffage and propulsion, and “Living in Fear”, with its dramatic establishing riffs, bestial cry for war and main rhythm that spends time on the savagely epic stage, keeps the album's fervor hot with flame.

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 noticeably unlike most of the thrash talent that roamed not only the area, but the galaxy as well. Next year’s Flag of Hate ep would show us where they were headed. Ventor hasn't stopped laughing.