Home > Music > Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986)

Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986)

Much has been spoken about a supposed ‘Unholy Trinity’ of extreme thrash metal albums that were released in 1986, and are supposed to be the watermark separating it from the more extreme material of the later 1980s. Generally, metalheads are referring to Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends, and this album. While the concept isn’t necessarily important, or even useful, since even before 1986, a lot of foundational extreme metal works had been released, Pleasure to Kill is most certainly the best of the three.

Frankly, the reason Pleasure to Kill excels so much compared to the other two has nothing to do with its (admittedly high) levels of aggression, violence, brutality. Instead, it has the most creative riffing and the most dynamic songwriting. Basically, the members of the band were in the process of developing a unique style that manifested itself most clearly on the two albums preceding it (Terrible Certainty and Extreme Aggression). As a result, this album is basically a hybrid of the technical, dissonant thrash style the band played later with a variety of more primitive thrash variants, and some early death metal technique to top things off.
It’s an interesting blend – nothing uncommon, especially in the mid to late 1980s, but it works, and is one of the reasons this album is so respected.
The songs on this album are constructed fairly simply – basic death/thrash riffs fill out the verses and choruses, while the more technical and ‘weird’ riffs act as transitions. Compared to the other albums in the holy trinity, this is significantly more tonal in its approach. It’s hardly melodic, but the songs often rely on modulation of key to drive them forwards. It’s not just keys – the tempos are often varied to a greater degree than in the other two albums of the ‘trinity’. Instrumentally, the band is more precise than they were on their debut, Endless Pain, but it doesn’t sound like it due to the often increased speed of the songs. The drumming is probably the most imprecise part of the album, as longtime drummer and occasional vocalist Ventor was still at this point more interested in beating the hell out of his kit than timekeeping. While I’m not very familar with Endless Pain (outside its high points like ‘Tormentor’), I know that even on there, Kreator had a few nods to the more intricate sort of thrash they’d be playing within a few albums. Arguably, considering the infusion of songwriting prowess, you could ask for better instrumental precision, but at no point is everything so far off the mark that the music becomes a jumbled mess – it took at least one year after this release for bands to start releasing recordings intentionally of sort to a mass audience (see Napalm Death, Sarcofago, etc.).
In the end, Pleasure to Kill still strikes me as the best example of its specific type of thrash metal. It’s an important link in Kreator’s musical evolution, and it’s a high point in brutality for 1986. Back then, you had to delve further into the underground to find more overtly death metal/grindcore oriented music – seriously, how many people listened to Morbid Visions, The Return, or Pure Fucking Armageddon when they actually came out? Admittedly, this probably didn’t see that many more sales, but it was released by Noise Records, whom I can safely suggest were the most important European metal label of the 1980s. In short, more influential because it was popular, not because it had more death metal in it or what not. Definitely an album worthy of perusal, and perhaps some degree of imitation.
Highlights: “Death is your Saviour”, “Riot of Violence”, “Carrion”

P.S: You’ll probably think I’m insane for believing this, but some of the drum hits on this album (Ventor’s bass drums?) sound like the menu sound effects from the recent MMO Atlantica Online. Coincidence? Probably. I mean, it’d be hilarious and disturbing if a Korean MMO designer decided to pay tribute to a German thrash metal band by sampling isolated pieces of their instrumentation, but that’s a bit crazy even for this world.

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