German legends Kreator combined the speed of the Big Four with the darkness of Venom to become one of the biggest thrash metal bands in Europe. HRH Mag’s Simon Rushworth revisits four of the band’s iconic Noise Records releases – reissued with bonus tracks and live material.

 

Fast approaching their 35th anniversary and with a proud reputation for producing brutal metal intact, Essen’s Kreator continue to batter eardrums the world over. January’s critically acclaimed Gods Of Violence proved Mille Petrozza and co. are in no mood to trade on their celebrated past but what a past it is.

When Noise Records released Endless Pain in 1985 it swiftly broke free from the metal underground to grab the attention of European fans desperately seeking heroes of their own at the outset of the Bay Area thrash metal explosion. The title track, Total Death and Bone Breaker were as blunt as they were brilliant and all three retain a remarkable power on the 2017 reissue. Check out the original demos (when the band were still known as Tormentor) of Blitzkrieg and End Of The World: Kreator’s genesis is right here it its most raw and unfiltered form.

Just a year after releasing their destructive debut, Petrozza and his buddies upped the ante in a bid to break into the mainstream with the punishing Pleasure To Kill. Opener Choir Of The Damned is an all-guns-blazing thrash metal classic that’s more than a match for anything on Master Of Puppets – another 1986 album that proved the angriest of genres was here to stay. Technically impressive, yet retaining the angst of Endless Pain, Kreator’s second long player emerged as a genuine threat to America’s burgeoning scene. Remastered and repackaged with the Flag Of Hate EP, the reissue represents a fitting tribute to a metal masterpiece.

Not a band to rest on their laurels, Kreator unleashed a third album in as many years when Terrible Certainty – a record that did what it said on the tin. Collectors lucky enough to own the red vinyl version may well have worn out their original wax – or at the very least blown a big budget speaker or two. Competing with Voivod’s Killing Technology, Testament’s The Legacy and Anthrax’s Among The Living for the title of 1987’s thrash metal album of the year, Kreator’s bullish offering was the full package. Blind Faith and Toxic Trace still cut it 30 years down the line and the re-release includes both the Out Of The Dark…Into The Light EP plus a slew of live cuts recorded at Eindhoven’s Dynamo Club.

By 1989 Kreator had nothing to prove to their loyal European fan base but Extreme Aggression opened up the US market on the back of heavy rotation on MTV for single Betrayer. A North American tour with Suicidal Tendencies followed – as did a major label deal with Epic – and there was no stopping one of the loudest and proudest bands on the planet. But home was still where the heart was for Kreator and the 1990 Berlin show included in the 2017 reissue proves the point. Perhaps this was the moment Petrozza’s unforgiving band of brothers hit their peak – or perhaps they were only just getting started!