Groundbreakers: Kreator – Pleasure to Kill

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1986 is often considered the most important year in thrash metal history. Master of Puppets, Reign in Blood, Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying, and Darkness Descends were all unleashed that year, kicking metal in its tight denim-clad nuts and cementing thrash as the preeminent genre for audible violence. However, there is one thrash album that supersedes all these for outright aggression. This is the story of Pleasure to Kill.

Allow your mind to drift back to 1986. Perhaps you were a young, vest-bedecked teen who just visited the record store with your pals on your way home from school. While at the store, you found a new LP with killer album art. You hadn’t heard of Kreator before, but the ‘roided-out demon mercilessly pummeling skeletons on the album cover (created by one Philip Lavere) immediately caught your attention. You rushed home to give this monster a spin, only to be greeted by a strangely docile intro track. “Choir of the Damned” was simply the calm before the storm, lulling you into submission before one of the most iconic riffs ever written bludgeoned your ears into oblivion.

After that timeless, remorseless opening to “Ripping Corpse”, Pleasure to Kill never, ever lets up. Each track is a straightforward exercise in aggression. Complexity and nuance are tossed out the window in favor of pure adrenaline and driving rhythms. The riffs speed along like supersonic jets firing salvo after salvo of napalm, accentuated nicely by the chaotic solos. At times lone guitarist Mille Petrozza absolutely punishes his instrument; check out the arching riffs on “Command of the Blade” for a perfect example. The drums hammer in time with a prominent, artillery fire rhythm on the snare. The bass lines rumble and crunch like tank treads crossing a field of corpses. The vocals, traded off between primary song-writer Petrozza and drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil, range from deranged maniac snarls to throaty, serial killer shrieks. The entire package is meant to exude violence and bloodshed, and it does so in a wholly convincing way that many bands seek to emulate.

The feral nature of this album is accentuated by its gritty production. The band was able to secure a more professional producer for this album who actually cared about bringing out the best performance, unlike the producer on Endless Pain. The end result is an album that feels tight where it needs to be (in the songs and riffs) and loose where required (in the drums and vocals), granting it an organic, bestial nature. The themes and lyrics to the album even enhance the violent experience; according to Petrozza, the album was written as an exploration of different ways to die, inspired by gore-obsessed nature documentaries. The fact that English publications at the time called the band “Hate Metal” (a cue from the Flag of Hate EP) is just the bloody cherry on top of the viscera-stuffed pie.

The influence of Pleasure to Kill is not difficult to discern. In addition to the other bands of the Teutonic Thrash scene, Kreator inspired a legion of thashers after them. However, the band’s lineage can be most easily witnessed in the black thrash scene. It’s easy to see whose genes Black AnvilDestroyer 666Flagellator, and their ilk inherited. Still, Kreator remain one of the first and arguably the best band to play this style (ignoring their weird goth/industrial phase in the 90’s). For playing with an unprecedented level of hatred and crafting one of the most remarkably aggressive and well-written thrash metal albums ever (at such a young age, too), Kreator have earned their Groundbreakers crown. All hail Pleasure to Kill.


Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.

Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology
Today is the DayTemple of the Morning Star
Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed
Acid Bath – When the Kite String Pops
Ministry – The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
Vulcano – Bloody Vengeance
Sleep – Holy Mountain

(h/t Joel McIver, writing for Metal Hammer, Issue 188)

(Photo VIA)

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Under the Guillotine all cunting day. Such a harsh record.

    • Lacertilinger

      The Pestilence is my go to Kreator track.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Got no problems with that.

        • Lacertilinger

          It’s pretty furious for a 6 or so minute song.

  • Yes. Hugely influential to multiple genres and one of my favorite albums of all time. Death is your savior!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScoPoK6zAxQ

  • RustyShackleford

    Fuck yes this album! Been awhile since I jammed Kreator so I’m putting this album on right now. OFFICE MOSHPIT! Yep.

  • Stanley

    What a monstrous release! Still sounds great and the dual vocal approach is fantastic. I don’t recall many bands that did that. Riot of Violence!!!!!!

  • Tyree

    This album is simply Heavy Metal at its finest.

    If you listen to metal and you have not heard this album… Fucking listen to it immediately.

    If you hate this album. You are just a turd that needs to me nuked.

    Album fucking rules. Hell fucking yes Dubz!

    • I will listen to it now, buddy.

      • Tyree

        Enjoy the dick crushing.

        • The directionless solos are the only downfall thus far. Those vocals though – swheeeeeeat!

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Mille is not know for his leads, as they were a three-piece initially. So they’re not so directionless, as they are chaotic. The chaotic solos, only to add to the chaotic and frantic feel of the album.

          • That is fair. I assume that with time I would have a better ear for the solos. Three- piece? Dang

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            By the next album, Terrible Certainty, they had another guitar player.

          • CHOASINTENSIFIES

    • The God Emperor of Mankind

      I have jammed this for the past 10,000 years. Although my favorites from’86 will always be Darkness Descends, Reign in Blood, and Master of Puppets.

    • more beer

      If you`re a metal head and haven`t heard this. You were probably in a cave with Gorak.

    • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

      Tyree…how bout tossing around a few more albums you would place into this very same category. I enjoy your picks about 99% of the time…

  • My first exposure to Kreator was this vid at 2AM in the morning on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball when I was a teenager. I was floored to say the least.

    http://youtu.be/1fAs_4yZsAI

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I’m honestly going to miss catching cool shit on TV late at night, those days are gone for good.

      • The Fish Boz

        All the cool shit is on Netflix or HBO anyway, you can catch it anytime. For better or worse.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Agreed. 99% of the time it was nothing but junk anyway.

          • The Fish Boz

            It did feel better than it does now when something really awesome popped up. Instant gratification is good but you kinda get numbed to it.

          • Lacertilinger

            And you have to know what you’re searching for.
            Sometimes late night, a thing you would have never clicked on or searched for enters your loungeroom and eventually your life.
            I feel this won’t happen much anymore.
            People only watch what they want/choose.

          • The Fish Boz

            True. Same with music. I’m having a hard time recently to get things really “clicking” with new songs. Every new album I hear just feels like it misses something, but I’m sure I am the one missing something if that makes any sense.

          • Lacertilinger

            Nope, that makes perfect sense.
            For me, it has been a simultaneous expansion of overall tastes but I still remain fussy with what I do and don’t enjoy. Kinda counter-intuitive but I seem very capable to pick up on little things that I don’t like among something that is actually initially quite appealing as a whole.
            Sense? I dunno.

        • KJM

          It was the randomness of it all that made late night cable TV worth it. I offer this as an example.

          Sometime during the late 80s I slept over a friend’s house and we spent the night tripping and getting high. Around sunrise, without any intro, this video came on the TV.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv8F8reGa80

          Now I’m already a huge Dio fan at this point having seen him a few times, but I knew nothing of this video and I freaked. Why was that frog singing with Dio’s voice? How did I not know what this was? I had no internet to look it up and there was no intro/outro explaining anything. It was years before I knew the story behind this video.

      • It was fun back in the day. I hardly watch TV anymore and I’m pretty confident I’m not missing anything.

    • Lacertilinger

      haha, I had this video recorded on to a VHS from late night music vids one night, along with Metallica’s One and Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss.
      I still have that tape somewhere but no VHS player.

      • I used to watch that show for 3 hours and wait for one good video to tape. The rest was mostly crappy glam rock that they played during the day.

  • Easily my favorite Kreator album. Aggression is easy these days but this album just hit all the right notes.

  • Tyree
  • Stanley

    “Allow your mind to drift back to 1986. Perhaps you were a young, vest-bedecked teen who just visited the record store with your pals on your way home from school. While at the store, you found a new LP with killer album art. You hadn’t heard of Kreator before, but the ‘roided-out demon mercilessly pummeling skeletons on the album cover (created by one Philip Lavere) immediately caught your attention. You rushed home to give this monster a spin, only to be greeted by a strangely docile intro track. “Choir of the Damned” was simply the calm before the storm, lulling you into submission before one of the most iconic riffs ever written bludgeoned your ears into oblivion. ”

    And then your dad came up stairs and told you to “TURN THAT NOISE DOWN”.

    ^^^This x 10.

    • KJM

      I wasn’t home enough to get complaints about noisy music back then.

  • Stanley

    All Killer No Filler. Command of Blade!!!!!

  • Hubert

    Never listened to this band before, but I like what I’m hearing. Giving this a listen.

  • Stanley

    Also, check out the Flag of Hate EP that came out a few months prior. If you pick up the remastered version of Pleasure to Kill, you’ll get the EP as a bonus.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWMK4n1TzUk

  • This is an induction in which I would say is a great induction.

    I’m not a Kreator fan, but I enjoyed this record.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qBkaPDsz-E

    • Lacertilinger

      YESSS!
      This track is my fave Kreator song, I’m so glad someone posted it. I was worried when I got halfway down without a mention. I know it was you who voted for it when I submitted for Thrash RoTW a while back! (don’t tell me if it wasn’t.. *puts fingers in ears*)

  • JW(E)G

    It’s not for nothing that I keep seeing this album in top 10 thrash metal album lists (and at least one ‘death metal’ list, which intentionally counted progenitors from “other” subgenres).

  • Kreator and Sodom have got to be my favorite thrash bands. They’ve both made pretty consistently good thrash. Pleasure To Kill is definitely in my top ten thrash albums.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Persecution Mania and Agent Orange is a mean one-two punch.

      • Agent Orange is my favorite thrash metal album of all time. Fucking destroyer of an album.

        • That’s a great album.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          The opening track alone is worth it.

        • Obsessed by Cruelty >>>>>>>>>>

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Very good point.

    • Stanley

      Probably my favorite thrash album.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kPfveBd_dY

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Was waiting for someone to finish the German trifecta.

        • Stanley

          I don’t know what to say to that. The Germans had it going on. Also add Deathrow – Riders of Doom and Helloween – Walls of Jericho to the list of German thrash greatness.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I wasn’t knocking the others by any means. Just from a thrash sense, they are the big three.

          • Can we throw Assassin – The Upcoming Terror in there?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbBI72OKmNU

          • Stanley

            *Poser alert! I’m not familiar with this record although the logo and album cover ring a bell. One of my buddies must have had it. I’ll give it a spin.

          • I don’t think its as good.

          • Phoenix of the House Tendies

            If we wanna get into lesser known but still awesome Tectonic thrash bands, you have to include Vectom in there.

            https://youtu.be/QevqczPvTAw

      • I have a soft spot for Cracked Brain.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p444rqVXaD0

        • Stanley

          I think they went down hill a bit after Eternal Devastation, but nothing that can detract from the greatness of Infernal Overkill. Riffs for miles. Are there any drummers here that are familiar with Infernal Overkill? I love the drumming but what I like most about it is the fact that it sounds slight off, like Tommy was trying (but failing) to keep up. Or maybe, it’s just a loose style like Frost. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I like it a lot.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            The newer albums are really hit or miss but they do hit heavily on a few occasions.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Yeah, the drumming sucks on that and Sentence of Death. That’s the charm.

          • Stanley

            “The end is near
            Lucifer’s legions of death are ready for attack
            They’ve got only one aim
            Total Destruction”

            Untouchable.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDI2jfNiOOM

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            So, so, so good.

      • more beer

        That album rules. I got to meet and hang out with Schmier on their tour bus in May when they came through town. It was certainly a very fun evening.

  • The Fish Boz

    You know what? I’mma jam this sucker right now cause I’m taking a break.

    I never listened to Kreator before. #ToiletConfessions
    -EDIT-
    Spotify has prior albums to this and later albums, yet no Pleasure to Kill. Dang. YouTube link it is.

    • I like to listen more their live recordings, they put a great show with perfect sound.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYzSN11Jab4

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Their newer albums with the Finnish guy are a lot more accessible. Still good though even if I miss Ventor’s vocals.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Dude’s vocals are black metal as fuck.

        • Stanley

          I’m not too keen on the newer albums but this song gets stuck in my head for days.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcstjQ-WuVU

        • Stanley

          I don’t know if I prefer Ventor’s vocals over Mille’s but I prefer the songs that he sings on on PtK.

    • Jam it and repent, motherfucker!

    • Celtic Frosty

      I’m listening to it on Spotify right now. What country are you in? Are you a foreigner? SPEAK ENGLISH

      • The Fish Boz

        SRY IMMAMEXICANo

  • i know nothing of their goth/industrial phase, but their early stuff is amazing (great write-up, Dubz) and they’re still putting out great thrash:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojpQ3LCeQTY

    • Don Henley’s Ego

      I did like their last album. I can’t wait for a new one

      • you’re my only upvote so far. thx bby

        • Don Henley’s Ego

          You’re welcome.

    • I enjoyed some tunes in Enemy of God. But older Kreator have more punch.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
    • Terrible Certainty is way underrated, dude.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Still don’t own this beast. Borrowed it from a buddy 15 years ago, liked it, but never got it. Looks like I need to make a purchase.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    This album slays! Don’t care for the other earlier albums nearly as much, but damn does this one slay.

  • JamesGrimm
  • JamesGrimm
  • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

    I’m glad everyone seems to dig it. For you folks just discovering this album, enjoy!

    • You did another stellar review, my Dubby friend.

    • it’s good to have someone with more experience point out which of the older albums are worth a listen… considering my entry-point to this band was Enemy of Gord!

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        Kreators vocals get in the way for me most of the time…not on this album tho! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHh

    • more beer

      Great article. I`ve had this album since it came out in 86

    • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

      Ahhhh the days when thrash was actually kick ass! Thanks W!

  • Phoenix of the House Tendies

    I wish I could’ve added my two cents to this but I’ve been swamped with bullshit lately. Though a video of me licking the CD would’ve likely summed up my feelings about this record better than any blurb.

    Excellent analysis Dubs. This truly is one of the greatest thrash albums of all time. It’s importance can not be stated enough.

    Also, the song Ripping Corpse inspired one of the most underrated death/thrash bands of all time. Get crushed.

    https://youtu.be/YxZiGHy7Bic

    • Tyree

      Yup. Posted this below. Album rips.

  • 365chaosriddendays

    10/10

  • KJM

    1986. Yep, that was a serious year to be a Metal fan.

    Hetfield, you stupid fuck. Why couldn’t you have left the skateboard at home that day?!! WHYYYYY!!!??

    I had a ticket voucher IN MY HANDS to see Metallica in August 1986. I had a ride to Kingston set up and everything. Stupid prick breaks his wrist skating drunk, entire tour gets reshuffled. Show gets canceled.

    FUCK. MY. LIFE.

    • more beer

      It really was a good year. I saw Possessed that year. Right before Reign In Blood came out. After Possessed`s set Slayer came out and did 3 songs of of the unreleased Reign In Blood. That was a great show.

      • KJM

        I saw Possessed with Dark Angel in 1987.

  • Celtic Frosty

    I was 5 in 1986.

    That being said, I dug into Kreator’s discography a year or so ago and this one definitely stuck out to me as one of the better albums. My starting point was Phantom Antichrist, though, so that will probably always hold the most special place in my blackened heart.

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      I, uh, wasn’t even alive, so I had to allow my mind to drift back on a wave of imagination.

  • This is a kickass album. I personally prefer Coma of Souls but that’s not the point; Pleasure to Kill is truly a groundbreaker.

    Good stuff.

  • john

    I can respect it, but I may be in the minority when I say I find modern Kreator a much nicer overall product. Phantom Antichrist is one of my all-time fav albums.

  • Undead Karate Poopoo Samich

    Damn good choice! Part of The Big Four Of German Trash, along with Tankard, Sodom, and Destruction. And can’t forget this doc:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX-BhBdPCNo