Kreator

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Endless Pain

Kreator - Endless Pain ©1985 Noise
1. Endless Pain
2. Total Death
3. Storm of the Beast
4. Tormentor
5. Son of Evil
6. Flag of Hate
7. Cry War
8. Bone Breaker
9. Living in Fear
10. Dying Victims

Long before Kreator established themselves as one of the elite German thrash metal bands of all time, the trio formerly known as Tormentor was not exactly the razor sharp entity we've come to know and love. Like many enthusiastic metal musicians of the era, Kreator was long on energy and very, very short on technical execution. Endless Pain, the band's 1985 debut, is a mess by any standards. The album might have retroactively garnered an elevated reputation, but when viewed on its own merits, Endless Pain is just not particularly good. If the members of the band had chosen to quit music to study architecture, this album would be a forgotten relic of the mid 80s and no one would fuss over it one bit.

Kreator was a trio on the debut, featuring Mille Petrozza, Rob Fioretti and Jürgen "Ventor" Reil. Their skill level is definitely rudimentary, as they rip through the ten songs with zeal and absolutely zero nuance. They rarely even come close to playing the tightknit precision thrash metal that Kreator would eventually be famous for. The singing is split between Mille and Ventor and neither does more than do some damage to their throats. There are moments where they come across a decent riff or capture at least a small percentage of the energy they meant to convey: "Son of Evil" has its moments. However, on a whole, Endless Pain is sloppy and unimpressive. Kreator would obviously go on to be one of the longest running German metal bands of all time, but Endless Pain proves that they, too, had very humble beginnings.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2009

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Pleasure to Kill

Kreator - Pleasure to Kill ©1986 Noise Int.
1. Intro
2. Ripping Corpse
3. Death is Your Saviour
4. Pleasure to Kill
5. Riot of Violence
6. The Pestilence
7. Carrion
8. Command of the Blade
9. Under the Guillotine

Despite ultimately garnering a cult following and noted as an influential album for many of today's metal bands, Kreator's second full-length release Pleasure to Kill still finds the German outfit in a messy embryonic stage, albeit with considerable growth since their disorderly debut. Part of the problem can be traced back to the production, which often put faster sections into a rather unfavorable light. But in reality, Kreator still hadn't totally found their songwriting strengths nor had they quite developed their musical skills to razor sharp perfection.

No review of Pleasure to Kill can overlook the high points of this album. The title track finds Kreator beginning to veer towards their later sound with more precision in their riffs than before. The other album highlight is undeniably "Riot of Violence", which still is a concert highlight to this date. More importantly, that track shows off the band's burgeoning songwriting skills, as well as offering such dizzying musical heights as dynamics and tempo changes. Unfortunately, much of Pleasure to Kill find Kreator still stuck in the mentality that playing as fast as possible is the only approach worthwhile. Without the precision the band would ultimately develop, a good portion of this album comes across as disheveled. But despite some of the glaring sore spots, Pleasure to Kill easily demonstrates Kreator was growing in leaps and bounds, especially compared to their debut. Mille Petrozza's vocals (still shared with drummer Jürgen "Ventor" Reil) sound stronger and much more vicious. And the fact that a couple of these songs are thrash classics helps this album's case. Pleasure to Kill may still fall short of later Kreator works, but you finally get the sense they were heading in the right direction.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2009

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Flag of Hate EP

Kreator - Flag of Hate EP ©1986 Noise Int.
1. Flag of Hate
2. Take Their Lives
3. Awakening of the Gods

Flag of Hate is a quick little EP released a few months after Pleasure to Kill that ultimately bridges the gap between the band's roughshod early days and their considerably better developed later thrash that would dominate their music for years to come. The title track apparently comes from the band's Endless Pain era (and unfortunately sounds like it). It is paired with a couple of longer, more advanced songs that display much improved musicianship and compositional ability. These two songs are much more recognizable as "modern" Kreator, at least to fans who might have first heard them around the Extreme Aggression era. Mille Petrozza's vocals sound confident and lacerating while the band simply is a much tighter unit.

This EP has been tacked onto most CD reissues of Pleasure to Kill. Flag of Hate is certainly a good leaping point from the band's primitive beginnings to their ultimate status as a high octane, precision thrash band and is worth seeking out in one format or another.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2009

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Terrible Certainty

Kreator - Terrible Certainty ©1987 Noise Int.
1. Blind Faith
2. Storming With Menace
3. Terrible Certainty
4. As The World Burns
5. Toxic Trace
6. No Escape
7. One Of Us
8. Behind The Mirror

By this point Kreator had honed in their sound to a very identifiable and strong thrash attack that could be mistaken for no other band. Part of that can be attributed to Mille's shriek/shout/yell that truly sounds like no other vocalist on the planet. Naturally there is a love it or hate it quality to his voicebox, but that's the price of doing your own thing. Anyhow, on Terrible Certainty, the music had been much more honed to a sharp, jagged and bruising force. The guitarists whipped through both standard thrash riffs and slightly more complex pieces over a very rampaging rhythm. At times, as in the album highlight "Toxic Trace", the guitars do seem to be almost unable to keep up behind Ventor's all out barrage on the drums, but they succeed just enough to avoid sloppiness. Kreator also valued putting slower sections with heavy chording to allow the songs to avoid sounding completely similiar all the way through. It is a very intense ride all the way through. Terrible Certainty's sound became a bit more succinct on Extreme Aggresion. If perhaps you have the latter album and enjoy it, finding Terrible Certainty would be a good way to see how Kreator got to that point.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Out of the Darkness...Into the Light EP

Kreator - Out of the Darkness...Into the Light EP ©1988 Noise Int.
1. Impossible to Cure
2. Lambs to the Slaughter
3. Gangland
4. Terrible Certainty (live)
5. Riot of Violence (live)
6. Awakening of the Gods (live)

Out of the Dark...Into the Light is a transitional EP for Kreator, who were making both a jump from Noise International Records to the major label Epic as well as their development from a somewhat haphazard thrash band into the blisteringly tight outfit that they ultimately have become. From the band's frustratingly messy debut to 1987's Terrible Certainty, one can hear the band grow exponentially as musicians, forming a much tighter and more effective musical unit. This EP, which features outtakes and live tracks, accurately demonstrates the development of the band.

Originally, the EP featured six tracks: two cover songs, a studio track, and three live songs. The studio tracks find the band just getting tighter and more impressive in their delivery. The three live tracks, which feature the crowd pleaser "Riot of Violence", find the band as effective live outfit, but still rough hewn and focusing on raising a ruckus much more than playing the same song at exactly the same time. Anyhow, the best part of the EP are the studio tracks, particularly the cover of Tygers of Pan Tang's "Gangland". That song is turned from a NWOBHM anthem into an energetic, but menacing thrash song. Unfortunately, subsequent reissues of the EP have omitted that track. Speaking of reissues, later versions of the EP tack another three live songs, including "Love Us or Hate Us" which was originally on 1989's Extreme Aggression. So much for sticking to material from the EP's original era.

This EP isn't necessarily vital, particularly since the version with "Gangland" is most likely very difficult to find. However, for those interested in hearing the growth of Kreator as a band, this EP does a great job in capturing the band in that transitional phase in the late 80s.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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Extreme Aggression

Kreator - Extreme Aggression ©1989 Epic
1. Extreme Aggressions
2. No Reason To Exist
3. Love Us Or Hate Us
4. Stream Of Consciousness
5. Some Pain Will Last
6. Betrayer
7. Don't Trust
8. Bringer Of Torture
9. Fatal Energy

Extreme Aggression represented Kreator's brief incursion with major label distribution on Epic Records in 1989 and while their stay in the big leagues lasted about as long as an early Napalm Death song, the album shows Kreator off at a high point. Taking the sound they were exploring on Terrible Certainty, Extreme Aggression is a fine thrash record with crystal sharp sound and precision honed anger. As the title suggests, these German boys were quite irritated at this point in their lives and the music captures their dismay quite superbly. Vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza spits and howls his anger out all over this record and the blazing soundtrack behind him is a perfect companion. The guitars on this album nearly race completely out of control, but with former Sodom guitarist Frank Blackfire at his side, Petrozza is able to harness their animosity well. The riffs here are occasionally haphazard, but in a way that somehow works. The pacing ranges from intense and wild to a more controlled midpace that truly brings some power into the music.

Throughout the record, Petrozza's angry lyrics portray a hatred of a blind and decaying society that is seemingly unaware of their betrayal of themselves. Whether it is his declaration of defiant independence in "Love Us or Hate Us" or the alienation displayed in "Don't Trust", Petrozza's words come across as partly youthful emotionalism being pushed to an extreme, but entirely honest throughout. Regardless of all else, this was a band that spoke their mind without barring anything.

Released at what I consider the high point of thrash, particularly the German strain, Extreme Aggression still remains my favorite Kreator album of all time and comes highly recommended. Along with Destruction and Sodom, Kreator set a very high standard for the style and deserve your attention.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2001

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Coma Of Souls

Kreator - Coma of Souls ©1990 Noise
1. When the Sun Burns Red
2. Coma of Souls
3. People of the Lie
4. World Beyond
5. Terror Zone
6. Agents of Brutality
7. Material World Paranoia
8. Twisted Urges
9. Hidden Dictator
10. Mental Slavery

After releasing what was easily a career highlight in Extreme Aggression, Kreator seemingly took the easy route with Coma of Souls. The band had established what seemed to be a winning formula for their brand of thrash metal which was coupled with their ever increasingly improved musical skills. But for some reason or another, Coma of Souls came across as tepid and merely adequate. This was doubly unfortunate considering it was released at the beginning of the ebb tide for thrash metal. The market was utterly flooded with speed and thrash metal bands all wearing their sneakers and looking appropriately menacing, so it's not a surprise that this particular album seemed like a letdown after Extreme Aggression. The songs do not vary a whole lot from its two preceding releases, which might be part of the problem. While it's nice when a band is competent at what they do, it's not always enough to create a favorable feeling towards the album. It very well could be that Kreator, trying to take advantage of the increased attention provided by Extreme Aggression, simply churned out Coma of Souls as quickly as possible to keep touring and remain in the thrash spotlight.

While no doubt certain metal fans will find much to enjoy here, Coma of Souls just feels like a drop in overall presentation and songwriting quality. It would be some time before Kreator would gain traction again as they, like many of their contemporaries, had troubles figuring out a sound while the music world's attention shifted far away from this style towards all things grunge, punk and alternative. So despite my general malaise towards this release, it still happens to be the best thing they'd release for years.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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Renewal

Kreator - Renewal ©1992 Futurist
1. Winter Martyrium
2. Renewal
3. Reflection
4. Brainseed
5. Karmic Wheel
6. Realitatskontrolle
7. Zero To None
8. Europe After The Rain
9. Depression Unrest

An entirely uninteresting and sore thumb of a record. Some of have complained of the industrial influence (it's slight but not really a focus) while they really should be griping about the uncomfortable production and lack of really interesting songs. Only "Depression Unrest" even mildly captures my attention. The rest feature a drum track that doesn't even remotely come close to fitting into the music while Mille screams and hollers throughout. A blah record from a band that shouldn't be quite so mediocre.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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Cause For Conflict

Kreator - Cause For Conflict ©1995 Noise
1. Prevail
2. Catholics Despot
3. Progressive Proletarians
4. Crisis Of Disorder
5. Hate Inside Your Head
6. Bomb Threat
7. Men Without God
8. Lost
9. Dogmatic
10. Sculpture Of Regret
11. Celestial Deliverance
12. State Oppression
13. Isolation

I'm skipping through the tracks on here trying to find something truly stand-out or remarkable, but Kreator's Cause for Conflict just doesn't hang with their classics from the last decade. It's not a terrible album, just really lacking in what it takes to capture my attention. All the elements are in place: raging waterfalls of double bass drums, dual thrash guitar warfare and of course Mille's shouted vocals. But nothing that makes this album stand out from any other thrash album ever released. (Well, there is a neat cover of Raw Power's "State Oppression".) It's probably no wonder you can find this album in nearly any used CD store.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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Outcast

Kreator - Outcast ©1997 F.A.D.
1. Leave This World Behind
2. Phobia
3. Forever
4. Black Sunrise
5. Nonconformist
6. Enemy Unseen
7. Outcast
8. Stronger Than Before
9. Ruin Of Life
10. Whatever It May Take
11. Alive Again
12. Against The Rest
13. A Better Tomorrow

You know, I haven't picked up a new Kreator album since Extreme Aggression. And if hadn't been for the recent addition of guitarist Tommy Vetterli (the Coroner genius), I would probably have bypassed this album like I have all the others in this decade. But curiosity finally won me over and I now have heard modern Kreator. Quite frankly, this band has reached a new maturity with this album. Blame it on Vetterli, blame it on grace with age, but the songs are tight as hell and well written. As with his work with Coroner, Vetterli's solid rhythms and tasteful leads make his previous band's breakup a little less painful. At least he's doing something worthy of his incredible talent. Mille is still singing about people beating you down, making you a slave, and not letting anyone tell you what to do. His lyrics are a lot more mature than they were a decade ago. But that should go without saying. The modern industrial touches, including vocal processing and occasional rhythms, bring Kreator up to date without the cheese factor of other bands from the era still toughing it out (uh, Testament or Overkill, anyone?). Glad I finally caught up with Kreator again.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1997

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Endorama

Kreator - Endorama ©1999 Pavement
1. Golden Age
2. Endorama
3. Shadowland
4. Chosen Few
5. Everlasting Flame
6. Passage To Babylon
7. Future Ring
8. Entry
9. Soul Eraser
10. Willing Spirit
11. Pandemonium
12. Tyranny

After the mild surprise of Outcast, I have been rather anxiously looking forward to the newest Kreator to hear how the band in their most potent incarnation might pan out. Endorama benefits greatly from having Tommy Vetterli in the band and contributing more to the songwriting process. The result isn't necessarily the Coroner-meets-Kreator hybrid that you might expect, but there are obvious hints of who is manning the second guitar post for the band. Throughout Endorama, riffing is tight, precise and sharp enough to slice a horn right off a rhino's nose. But the starkest element throughout the album is a much less frantic and harsh edge. Rather, a touch of class is added with the usage of some synthetics and a - dare I say - adult approach. The result is an album full of the catchiest songs this band has ever released. Mille Petrozza still retains a little venom in his vocals, but he finally lets himself sing cleanly throughout. Hey, c'mon, who needs to hear his screaming for yet another release? Moreover, it is nice to hear the old dogs show they have learned a new trick here and there, as the first moments of the groovy "Passage to Babylon" demonstrate. While some may freak out at the keyboards and lead piano riff, that song is easily one of the best on the record. The best thing throughout the album as a whole is the well placed melodic leads over the rhythm riffing. Those are the sort of things that make the whole thing much chewier and better with milk. Endorama isn't necessarily going to impress those who feel Kreator should not have moved beyond Pleasure to Kill (but that was an entire lifetime ago) but for regular metal fans craving something oozing with talent and excellent songwriting, this is one highly recommended album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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Violent Revolution

Kreator - Violent Revolution ©2001 Steamhammer/SPV
1. Reconquering The Throne
2. The Patriarch
3. Violent Revolution
4. All Of The Same Blood
5. Servant In Heaven - King In Hell
6. Second Awakening
7. Ghetto War
8. Replicas Of Life
9. Slave Machinery
10. Bitter Sweet Revenge
11. Mind On Fire
12. System Decay

The demon from the cover of Coma of Souls is back as well as Kreator promising an album that is a return to their roots. Normally this sort of declaration by the band is something that makes me highly suspicious. When a longtime band suggests they are returning to their roots, it is only because their fans were unable to grow along with them and their hope is that they can recapture those fans by giving them what they want rather than pursue what the band wants. Or maybe I'm just cynical. Kreator has taken that outlook and tossed it onto its head because Violent Revolution is a suprisingly powerful release that could have just as easily been released right after either Extreme Aggression or Coma of Souls without raising a single eyebrow. More importantly, this "out with the new and in the old" approach has actually paid off. Violent Revolution is a very respectable, enjoyable release.

Since 1999's progressively-tinged Endorama, Kreator has parted ways with yet another guitarist (ex-Coroner guitar master Tommy Vetterli is now also ex-Kreator) and apparently renewed their interest in the speedy, crunchy thrash tailings they were known for around 1989 or 1990. The benefit of ten more years of playing and experience is that Violent Revolution has the ability to both thrash with the best of them and retain some of the finesse that has marked the past two releases from this band. Guitar solos and leads no longer sound like they were hastily pasted on after the song was recorded; rather, they are melodic and enhance the song. Meanwhile, mainstay Mille Petrozza retains his unique vocal style (with, say, the exception of the Fields of Nephilim imitation at the beginning of "Replicas of Life"). The songs range from midpaced to frantic speedragers, showing that bands who have been around for nearly two decades can still whip the tempos with the best of them. Most importantly, you can hear how years of playing have tightened this unit up as there isn't a drop of sloppiness to be found.

While my personal appeal in Violent Revolution is tempered by having to be the right mood to listen to 80s thrash, I can most certainly say Violent Revolution is yet another strong Kreator record, regardless of whatever approach they are taking at this point. Not only is this a worthy followup to Endorama (yes, I was that person who enjoyed that record, so bite me), but it is also a worthy followup to the band's classic records from a decade ago. Longtime fans are sure to be pleased as this record avoids being an attempt to relive the band's youth.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2001

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