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Before they set their sights on more experimental musical practices in the 1990s, Kreator was fumbling into the world of extreme thrash. After forming in Germany in 1982, the band, then known as Tormentor recorded two crude demos entitled The End of The World and Blitzkrieg. These early examples of their work (included as a fantastic bonus on the Endless Pain reissue) owe something to their influences of NWOBHM, musically if not vocally. These were enough to get them a deal with Noise Records; at the time they were so young that lead screamer Mille Petrozza's mum had to sign the contract. Their debut Endless Pain was recorded in just ten days and has all the raw and desperate hallmarks of youth; they'd only done two gigs before recording the album. Storm Of The Beast, Tormentor and Total Death perhaps best indicate the relentless sound they would become famous for. Even if they received little guidance from producer Horst Muller, their instinctive style of black and thrash metal was clearly established along with a growing fanbase.

Their second release, Pleasure To Kill from 1986, is widely regarded as a landmark album as influential on the genre as Slayer's Reign of Blood and Metallica's Master of Puppets. It's perhaps more brutal than its American counterparts with Petrozza's frenzied and spitting vocals, crazed guitars and attacking percussion; but then the European metal market has always had a taste for the extreme. Lyrically the themes are still violent and stick to the fantastical in terms of influence, drawing on horror films and occult comic books, rather than battles as was the case on the first album - with the exception of Son of Evil which was written about Rosemary's Baby. Ripping Corpse and Command of The Blade are examples of the band's transition from boys to metal monsters. This reissue also has the Flag of Hate EP tagged on.

Terrible Certainty, apart from containing the band's most formidable sounds to date

like the ear pummeling Blind Faith and Toxic Trace, the release has a bonus disc, Out of the Dark...Into The Light. The band initially wanted to escape from the German metal market and had intended to get an American producer like Rick Rubin on board, but Noise Records weren't happy with this and opted for Onslaught producer Roy Rowland instead. The album has a more cohesive feel, possibly because the band had much longer to put it together; although you might find the drums 'a little mushy.' Terrible Certainty took the band to another level performance wise too, which you can hear on the bonus disc.

The final reissue is Extreme Aggression, which finally brought the band to the attention of American audiences because of the use of Betrayer on the MTV Headbangers Ball and also touring with D.R.I. Unfortunately, the re-release has still opted for the orange background band cover, rather than the original cover where a man was ripping his face off in a mirror to reveal the band's Devilish mascot. If you've still not had your fill of thrashing with these issues, Extreme Aggression has a bonus live CD.

All the CD's come in a hardback cover with an 18-page booklet, well worth having for any collector. The cover artwork is also one of the most striking things about the albums and is just as identifiable as the band's music; it really looks good on these formats. Vinyl fans, fear not, the band are also releasing these on 2 disc 180g vinyl and these remasters have never sounded better.

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