31 Years Ago: Kreator Push the Limits of Thrash With ‘Pleasure to Kill’
In 1985, Essen, Germany trio Tormentor changed their name to Kreator and released their debut Endless Pain, joining Sodom and Destruction as holders of the Teutonic thrash flame. But it on was Nov. 1, 1986 that Kreator made metal history with the blistering, brutal Pleasure to Kill.
Released about eight months after Metallica’s Master of Puppets and a month after Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Pleasure to Kill upped the ante on both in terms of speed, simplicity and raw aggression. Sure, Metallica wrote better riffs and Slayer had better arrangements, but Pleasure to Kill was an overdose of pure adrenaline that compensated for any off-tempo beats, erratic guitar work or rudimentary production by going straight for the jugular with every song and being entirely unrepentant about any of its shortcomings.
"I wasn't pleased with Endless Pain because the production was very bad,” guitarist and vocalist Mille Petrozza told Mike Exley of Metal Forces in 1986. "We had learnt a lot a lot since the old days and our riffs were just getting better and better.”
To date, Pleasure to Kill’s title track remains one of the best and most vicious examples of German thrash and the ferocity with which Petrozza attacked his instrument throughout the record paved the way for the nascent death metal scene. Other standout cuts include “Ripping Corpse,” “The Pestilence” and “Under the Guillotine.” Along with Possessed’s 1985 offering Seven Churches, Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends and Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Pleasure to Kill inspired bands from Stockholm, Sweden, Tampa, Fla. and other regions to untether the reigns and push the barriers of thrash to the breaking point.
“We were really influenced by Possessed’s Seven Churches and we tried to do something even heavier than that,” Petrozza told me in 2010. “And yeah, it probably is one of the essential records for the death metal movement. A lot of black metal bands even say that Pleasure to Kill is one of their main influences.”
When Petrozza was writing the lyrics for Pleasure to Kill he was influenced by slasher films and the grizzly faux-documentary Faces of Death and that he wanted the album to address different ways to die.
Since Kreator had already proven themselves with Endless Pain, their label Noise Records gave them a better recording budget for Pleasure to Kill. Still, the band was forced to record quickly and the production, while on par with that of other German thrash bands, paled in comparison to major label thrash recordings. Kreator worked on the record at Musiclab in Berlin, Germany with Harris Johns, who previously produced albums for Helloween, Grave Digger, Coroner and Celtic Frost. While guitarist Michael Wulf (ex-Sodom) is credited in the liner notes, he didn’t play on the album.
Pleasure to Kill was remastered by Century Media in 2000 reissued with the EP Flag Of Hate, which was originally released in August 1986.
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.
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