Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kreator - Pleasure To Kill (1986)

After the success of Endless Pain, Kreator has made quite a name for themselves in the underground. A short time later, Noise Records sent them back into the studio to record their follow-up. This time, the album was handled by Harris Johns, at Musiclab Studio in Berlin. By April 1986, just six months after the release of their debut L.P., Pleasure To Kill was unleashed upon the world.

The album begins with a calm and serene intro, with the sound of wind blowing and an acoustic guitar playing an uplifting melody. "Choir of the Damned" gives the listener a false sense of security. As the soothing sounds nearly lull you into a trance, they bludgeon you into oblivion.

"Ripping Corpse" explodes into your ears, burning this calm scenery to ashes. Gone are the traces of NWOBHM influence. This is something far more intense and brutal than Endless Pain. The song moves forward at a hyper pace, with fast tremolo-picks riffs and blasting drums accompanied by the rumbling of the bass and Mille's sinister and demonic vocals. Of course, the lyrics match the violence of the music.

"Await the death by the blade
Run before it's too late
Await the axe in your back
As the ripping corpse attack"

This blistering assault of followed by "Death Is Your Saviour". This opens with a tremolo melody, mixed in with more pure thrash riffs. This is one of the few to feature Ventor on vocals, handling less of the songs here than on the previous album. His style isn't quite as evil sounding as Mille's, and seem a little less suitable for the music. Through pounding drums, shredding guitars and solos that tear your face off, this song is absolutely relentless.

"Pleasure To Kill" is next, beginning with a short drums roll that leads into another furious slab of Teutonic Thrash. Mille returns on vocals, having more of a vicious sound than Ventor. The solos are reminiscent of early Slayer, at certain points. Half-way through the song, the pace slows down a bit as the vocals become more possessed and evil.

"...I return to the cemetery
And my bloodlust is filled
My coffin is open for me
I lay down and rest..."

Surely, this lyrical approach had to have been quite influential on the Death Metal bands that were soon to emerge, around this time. As the song ends, there are small hints of the NWOBHM sound, though at this speed it is difficult to really notice. This will surface a bit more on the song that follows.

Up next is "Riot of Violence". This is another one that features Ventor on vocals, making it a little less appealing. The song slowly fades in, with sort of a build-up before going into more of a mid-paced thrash riff. This song utilizes several different riffs and tempos, being a bit more dynamic and melodic than the first few. Despite the increased complexity of the structure, it sounds more simplistic due to the way that it is played. The pace slows down, briefly, in the last minute, only to return to the main riff.

"The Pestilence" begins with an interesting drum sound (one that would be used by Sepultura on Schizophrenia), introducing more mid-paced thrash riffs and a guitar solo. In no time, this song matches the frenzied pace of the earlier tracks, with Mille's evil vocals tearing through your brain.

"Cemetary of hades riting flesh of death
Skulls and bones are decaying
Corpses, limbs and deadly carnage
Massacre and crime is ruling"

This song tells the tale of a world that has become corrupt, being cleansed by the Black Plague. The delivery is rather grim and violent, yet the lyrics show a deeper level of understanding than one might first suspect. This is the longest track on here, containing a few more traces of the NWOBHM sound in the melodies. There are are others, such as the one just before the 5:00 mark, that sound reminiscent of Slayer. This is the closest that they come to approaching an epic atmosphere, with a riff here or there. This is definitely one of the highlights of Pleasure To Kill.

"Carrion" starts out a little slow, seeming to struggle in getting to its feet. This is by design, of course. In no time, the song is raging forth with speed and power. The sound is, somewhat, similar to the first song. This is especially evident as the following verse is delivered:

"Reaching out for you life
The world is prepared to die
Death will fall from the sky
And the reaper will arrive"

However, as it goes along, it shows more of the old influences in the melody and structure. Some of the most interesting guitar riffs of the L.P. are found here, with a very nice solo to go along with them. With the way that the album is arranged, one gets the immediate impression that a great change has occurred, only because that is the effect they wanted the album to have. As Pleasure To Kill progresses, more varied song structures and melodies are found, lurking in the shadows of chaos and brutality.

Ventor's vocals return, one final time, on "Command of the Blade". This one begins with a great riff, very reminiscent of early Slayer, especially with the way the drums are building up. This feeling continues through much of the song, making you think back to Hell Awaits.

This classic album of German Thrash Metal concludes with "Under the Guillotine". This one wouldn't have been out of place on their debut L.P. Mille's vocal delivery is hateful and evil. The tale is a simple one; examining someone's final moments before being put to death. Musically, this is fairly straight-forward, though there are riff changes, particularly around the middle of the song. The solos are great, fitting the song far better than many of the solos on Slayer's Reign In Blood, which would be released six months later. Another thing Kreator managed to do better than Slayer would be recording an album of intense, brutal and violent songs, yet allowing them to breathe and injecting enough melody to keep them interesting. The song continues with more old school riffs, another brilliant solo (reminiscent of early Slayer) and a vicious return to the main riff as it reaches the conclusion.

Pleasure To Kill is more brutal than Endless Pain, yet more melodic at the same time. The band's sound matured, to a degree, but I would rate both albums equally. The debut L.P. gets the nod, more than likely, just because I think I overdosed on Pleasure To Kill some years ago. In the end, this is essential for anyone's collection. There are some records that are overrated and then there are some that are just that bloody good. This one certainly earned its reputation.