Arguably the most influential and successful European thrash metal band ever, Germany's Kreator are also by far the most enduring. Like many of their European speed metal brethren, Kreator fused Metallica's thrash innovations with Venom's proto-black metal imagery, sparked it with Motörhead's balls-out velocity, and capped it off with the nihilistic outlook typical of heavy metal since the seminal days of Black Sabbath. Kreator's career also mirrored speed metal's rising and waning fortunes: building from strength to strength throughout the 1980s, only to fall on hard times in the 1990s. Now seemingly reborn in their third decade of activity, Kreator are certified worldwide superstars who still tour as widely and frequently as bands half their age -- now that's resilience.
Endless Pain Originally named Tyrant, and then Tormentor, Kreator were founded in 1982 by vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza, bassist Rob Fioretti, and drummer Jürgen Reil (aka Ventor) in the industrial capital of Essen, Germany. They were still known as Tormentor when their first two demo tapes, one fittingly named Blitzkrieg (1983), and the other End of the World (1984), fell into the hands of thousands of heavy metal fans engaging in the era's bustling underground tape-trading network. Positive word of mouth soon attracted the attention of Germany's own metal start-up, Noise Records, which signed the newly re-christened Kreator to a deal and immediately put them to work on their first album. Recorded in just ten days at Berlin's Musiclab Studios, 1985's Endless Pain was a savage debut, but its crude thrashing quickly had the underground metal world abuzz with excitement. A second guitar player, Wulf, was hired for touring purposes, and with Kreator's reputation preceding them, lucky fans within the band's modest touring radius were soon clamoring for tickets.
Pleasure to Kill No sooner had they come off the road than Kreator were heading right back to Musiclab Studios, this time with producer Harris Johns (Helloween, Voivod) to record their second album, Pleasure to Kill. Unleashed in 1986 and still considered the band's first "classic" album, Pleasure to Kill raised the bar with more diversity of tempos and greater attention to technical execution, while losing nothing in terms of ferocity or speed. The band closed out the year with the Flag of Hate EP (named after a re-recorded version of their earliest hit), and there seemed to be little doubt that Kreator, along with fellow Germans Helloween and Switzerland's Celtic Frost (with whom they toured the U.K. a year later), were fast becoming Europe's top extreme metal contenders. Recorded at Hanover's Horus Studios with English producer Roy Rowland, 1987's Terrible Certainty did nothing to dent this perception, since, for once, Petrozza and company actually had a little time to work out the songs beforehand. The ensuing tour further established their reputation as dedicated road warriors, and saw Kreator beefed up to a quartet once again with the addition of guitarist Jörge Trebziatowski. Profits from these concerts would help finance yet another EP (product being something Noise never stopped asking for) entitled Out of the Dark, Into the Light, released in August 1988.