1986 was a year which saw the arrival of some of the wildest and most intense thrash metal albums in history. Darkness Descends and Reign in Blood arose from North America, to be answered by the second full-length chapter of Germany's young Kreator: Pleasure to Kill. To dub this album 'hostile' wouldn't do it justice. It has all the subtlety of a live mortal shell landing right in your lap; the restraint of a hot poker in your eye. Apparently, some of us were left not only standing after Endless Pain, but healthy, a fact that Mille, Rob and Ventor were none too pleased with, and so they unleashed this inferno of unrepentant velocity to clean up all survivors, their iconic devil/creator taking himself to war with a phalanx of skeletal scions that are about to be mulched onto the bone pile.
Though I wouldn't call its contents 'primitive', that is certainly their ultimate effect, to club the listener as quickly as possible. The melodic guitar intro "Choir of the Damned" seem almost too friendly, too inviting, before the shitstorm appears in "Ripping Corpse". The simplistic, terrifying guitar lines show an immediate increase in speed from the debut, and with this much tremolo picking involved, it's hard not to consider Pleasure to Kill one of the fundamentals in not only thrash, but death and black metal, since it's like a brutal spawning pool for ideas crucial to each of these genres. And it doesn't let up, with "Death is Your Saviour" and "Pleasure to Kill" following the same carnal currents, the same bristling guitar tone dismantling the intellect in crescendos of vibrant pain, Mille barking across the top, more a hurricane hammer of spit and venom than a man, nearly tripping over himself as his hasty diatribes murder all opposition.
"Riot of Violence", however, arrives at the perfect time, a slower piece that is unquestionably the most catchy and hallowed on this entire record. Mid-paced, plundering thrash with an amazing, unforgettable pre-chorus (watch any live gig as the entire crowd mouths along) and some spikes of unexpected, clinical melody before the trampling of the actual chorus. 'Wyatt of violence? Wyatt of violence?' This more 'sensitive side' of the band ensues through the caustic triplets of "The Pestilence", at least for 30 seconds until it's clobbering time once more, the band stretching their limbs as far as possible in a giant clusterfuck contraption of searing speed. "Carrion" follows suit, and then "Command of the Blade", which is my second favorite here after "Riot of Violence", with its escalating dynamics and Slayer-like bridge riff below the solo. "Under the Guillotine", another well known song, is the closing chapter here, and like its namesake device, it cleanly severs the listener's skull from his body, with a superb if predictable chorus in which Mille growls like a proto death metal god.
Pleasure to Kill is one of those incredibly authentic cult offerings which doesn't show even the remote traces of age. There is no rust on this weighted blade, it cuts as well as it did 25 years ago, and represents the perfect dynamic bridge between Kreator's blunt origins and the wealth of impressive, technical talents they would begin to shell out on the imminent followup, Terrible Certainty. The bass is good and loud to anchor the guitars, and Ventor really never sounded better than here; his kit sounds highly present and organic, like it were emanating straight from your basement. Really, the only fault I could attribute to this record is that in some of its race to conquer all, it tosses in a few less impressive riffs here or there ("The Pestilence" and "Carrion" represent the weakest quarter of content). But honestly, it flogs most of its peers with a metal barbed whip. Obsessed by Cruelty and Eternal Devastation are both great records, but they don't have much on Pleasure Kill. About the only German thrash I liked more this year would have been Tankard's Zombie Attack, an opinion I share with perhaps only a handful of people across the world, but that album is nowhere near as dark and volcanic as this.
Verdict: Epic Win [9.25/10] (tasting the blood from your lips as you die)