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Relentless!! - 84%

Lord_Jotun, February 15th, 2004

"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.