Continuing on my reviews for the Unholy Trinity of 1986, I come to my personal favorite of the trinity, which is Kreator's “Pleasure to Kill.”
When I first heard this album six years ago, I was only about 7-8 months into listening to the more extreme offshoots of the heavy metal genre, I still didn't know who was the “best” in the thrash and death metal niches. I spent a lot of time and money in the last months of my senior year in high school buying whatever looked good to me at the time. A good deal of the thrash and death albums I got back then didn't stick around in my collection long, but this Teutonic thrash masterpiece would be one that I'll never, ever get rid of. Even after listening to this album a lot since I first bought it, it still sounds absolutely ferocious and no matter how hard I try, this album still subconsciously grabs my mind and forces me to bang my head as if up from the dead.
“Pleasure to Kill” is the follow-up album to the Essen-based thrash group's debut, “Endless Pain.” This is practically the antithesis of the much-dreaded “sophomore slump,” since this improved upon all the great debut's qualities, whether it be brutality, dynamics, or technical mastery of the instruments. While not part of the album's score, once you listen to this, you can hear the first traces of death metal being formed with this album.
Guitarist and vocalist Mille Petrozza is at the top of his game on this album. His riffs are total monsters on this album, since his riffs are really fast and at the same time, extremely well-developed. Unlike the few hiccups in Slayer's “Reign in Blood,” there's no “fast for fast's sake” going on here, all the riffs, whether they be fast or on the slower side, all belong in the right places. Now that I think of it, there's virtually no “doing something for the sake of doing it” going on in this album at all; everything feels right and well thought-out. Petrozza's guitar solos are excellent as well, since they're really chaotic and fit with the rest of the music like a glove. I think some of his best solos are on the opening to “Carrion,” the middle of “Pleasure to Kill,” and in “The Pestilence.”
Petrozza's vocals are excellent as well. His vocal delivery consists of gravely, evil snarls and growls. Some people may complain that his vocals don't have a melodic glaze to them, but I'm glad they don't because this type of nefarious vocal delivery perfectly suits the brutal, intense thrash on display here.
Ventor's skills as a drummer shine perfectly throughout this album. While there really isn't a dull moment in this album in relation to the percussion, I think Ventor's best drumming comes in the near-middle, blasting part of “Riot of Violence.” He also does lead vocals on some songs, such as the aforementioned “Riot of Violence,” and serve as a really good complement to Petrozza's vocals, as they're generally similar.
Rob's bass, while not as prominent as what you'd hear in an Iron Maiden or Atheist album, thankfully have more prominence in this album than most thrash albums of similar ilk. His basslines add a great deal of depth and heaviness to Petrozza's guitar riffs.
Not only are all the songs of high quality, but even the organization in the track-listing is worth praising. The album starts off with a fairly ambient intro piece called “Choir of the Damned,” which consists of some melodic guitar licks and powerful synth-lines. However, when that intro ends, it's nothing but unbridled Teutonic thrashing armageddon until the album ends. For we dive into the first real song, “Ripping Corpse.” This song is a thrashing monstrosity, as it's loaded with chaotic thrash riffs and drum fills, complete with lyrics depicting a tale of a monster that “came from the East” and rips its victims apart, even if it means ripping guts through a lady's “womanhood.” “Pleasure to Kill,” the title track, is worth noting, since it has a steadily-fast, infectious main thrash riff and that nefarious chorus:
My only aim is to take many lives
The more the better I feel
My only pleasure is to hear many cries
From those tortured by my steel
The color of your blood from your open body
Is all I wanted to see
Tasting the blood from the lips as you die
Means satisfaction to me
Pleasure to Kill
“Riot of Violence” is another worthwhile thrash monster, as this has an infectious main riff and that iconic “blast” section near the middle of the song, that's loaded with intense riffage and proto-blastbeats, whilst Ventor screams “Riot of Violence” during that section. “The Pestilence” utilizes some great dynamics, as the song is nearly 7 minutes-long, but doesn't drag on at all, as its slow and fast parts are all well-timed and when all taken into account, add up for an intense thrash song. “Carrion” is a little slower than the rest of the album, but by that, I mean a song that's still intense but at a smaller degree, and the first 1 minute and 40 seconds are loaded with intense riffage and flesh-shredding guitar solo that stands up well with the rest of the songs. “Command of the Blade” is an unsung song on here. It starts off as a fairly mild track, but like the rest of the songs on here, quickly ensues into Tetuonic thrashing chaos with cool lyrics about a mysterious, murderous figure on missions to kill for his superiors.
I think all the North American re-issues of “Pleasure to Kill” post-2000 come with the “Flag of Hate” EP as a bonus. This is an excellent bonus for the album since the re-recording of “Flag of Hate” is rather good (though I still like the original the best) and comes with two rather lengthy but fantastic songs “Take Their Lives” and “Awakening of the Gods.” Especially with the latter, they display excellent dynamics and progression, and show that these “evil, chaotic thrashers” can diversify their usual songwriting methods.
The production on this album is perfect. All the sonic elements come in rather clear (even the bass to an extent), while at the same time, maintains a “rough” sound quality to further enhance the nefarious feelings oozing from the songs here.
Not only is this my favorite Kreator album, this is my favorite metal album to come from Germany. With the albums that make up the Unholy Trinity of 1986, this is the crowning jewel. If you've worked your way up to the more “extreme” bands under the thrash umbrella through Slayer, I think you're ready to tackle this beast, and it's an album you won't want to be parting with anytime soon once you get it.
If you want other prime Kreator albums, check out “Endless Pain,” “Terrible Certainty,” “Extreme Aggression,” and “Coma of Souls” after you digest this Teutonic thrash titan.
If I was forced to choose among Kreator's discography to only have one album, this would be the one to get.
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