The undisputed kings of German thrash metal, Kreator have been a steady and reliable presence for nearly 40 years now. Over the course of that time, Mille Petrozza’s band have produced an impressive catalogue of albums and influenced several generations of musicians, and they haven’t finished yet.
With long-awaited new album Hate Über Alles due to be released in June, we took a preparatory dive into Kreator’s illustrious canon and ranked their studio records from best to worst. It’s been a pleasure (to kill).
14. Endorama (1999)
Post-thrash Kreator spent much of the 90s experimenting, but this was one experimental move too many. Endorama was Kreator’s goth metal album. There are definitely some intriguing and worthwhile moments on it, too: Everlasting Flame, in particular, is a great song, and the title track has a certain ethereal charm. In its entirety, however, it’s just not Kreator-y enough.
13. Cause For Conflict (1995)
Almost the forgotten album in Kreator’s catalogue, Cause For Conflict arrived between the experimental surprise of Renewal and the even more adventurous Outcast. Stripped down and brutal, but still tinged with industrial textures, it lacks truly memorable songs, the utterly berserk Bomb Threat and the profoundly furious Catholic Despot aside.
12. Outcast (1997)
Going even further down the industrial/alt-metal rabbit hole, Kreator sounded like a band in need of a direction on Outcast. That said, this record did give us Phobia: a staple in live shows ever since, and one of Mille’s greatest moments as a vocalist. “Is there something after you?! Something after you!“ Well, is there?
11. Renewal (1992)
Many knickers were suddenly in a twist when Kreator released Renewal. Audibly influenced by industrial metal and alternative rock, it was a daring and subversive move, and one that actually worked pretty well. The title track is the obvious highlight, and still makes regular appearances in the band’s live sets. So there.
10. Violent Revolution (2001)
An unapologetic return to the straightforward thrash metal sound that made them famous, Violent Revolution was a grand renewal of first principles. Hurling the gauntlet down with the likes of opener Reconquering The Throne and the spiteful thunder of the title track, Kreator entered their third decade in excellent form.
9. Hordes Of Chaos (2009)
Few songs encapsulate Kreator’s feral appeal better than Hordes Of Chaos’ rampaging title track and its swivel-eyed refrain of 'Everyone against everyone!' More gritty and live-sounding than its immediate predecessors, the Germans’ twelfth album is a primarily no-nonsense affair that frequently threatens to kick your head in.
8. Phantom Antichrist (2012)
Another sophisticated but savage collection of songs, Phantom Antichrist resounds with confidence and songwriting suss. Best exemplified by the skull-rattling precision of its title track and the runaway thrash bulldozer of Civilization Collapse, Kreator’s 13th studio album was a brutish, authoritative reminder that no one does this stuff better.
7. Enemy Of God (2005)
Kreator’s second album of the 21st century was not designed to fuck about. Kicking off with its merciless and anthemic title track, Enemy Of God took Mille and his comrades into ever darker and more brutal territory. From the punishing Impossible Brutality to the ominous sprawl of The Ancient Plague, it’s a feast of murderous deep cuts and turbo-thrash money shots.
6. Endless Pain (1985)
The sound of three angry, drunk teenagers going absolutely fucking mental, Endless Pain is one of the most exciting metal debuts of all time. Raw, chaotic and played with almost comical levels of intensity, songs like Total Death and Flag Of Hate noisily confirmed that German thrash metal was even filthier and more psychotic than its American equivalent.
5. Terrible Certainty (1987)
Routinely overshadowed by Pleasure To Kill, Terrible Certainty is the dark horse of Kreator’s first trio of albums. With slightly grander production values and an obvious upsurge in technical ability, songs like Storming With Menace, Toxic Trace and Behind The Mirror sounded like the work of a band with international heavyweight status in mind.
4. Coma Of Souls (1990)
Following the magnificent Extreme Aggression was never going to be easy, but Kreator were still on ferocious form on Coma Of Souls. More polished than its predecessor but no less venomous, it was the perfect next move and one that straddled both old school thrash and a more experimental mindset that would come to dominate later albums. Opener When The Sun Burns Red was brooding and epic in a way that Kreator had never been before, and People Of The Lie was a certified thrash banger. All killer.
3. Gods Of Violence (2017)
Kreator have been an imperious force in recent times and their most recent album really hammered that point home. Laudably versatile, and yet never less than crushing, Gods Of Violence felt like a showcase for everything the band could do: from expected bursts of visceral thrash like World War Now and Totalitarian Terror to strident heavy metal anthems like Fallen Brother and, of course, Satan Is Real. Hitting peak form just in time for the world to go completely mad, Kreator have never sounded more unstoppable.
2. Pleasure To Kill (1986)
Absurdly influential and widely cited as one of the cornerstones of death, black and any other kind of nefarious and brutal metal you care to mention, Pleasure To Kill is the underground classic to rule them all. If Kreator’s debut album Endless Pain had sounded permanently on the edge of chaos, the band’s second full-length saw them sharpen up and go for the jugular. Insanely dark, fast and fuelled on a mixture of adrenalin, beer and speed, songs like Ripping Corpse and the immortal Pleasure To Kill were slamming down a blueprint for generations to follow.
1. Extreme Aggression (1989)
Everything came together on Kreator’s fourth album. A bold leap forward from the ragged fury of its predecessors, Extreme Aggression confirmed that the Germans were operating on a superior level to most of their peers.
From the ageless spite of the title track and the venomous tirade of Betrayer, to the epic Some Pain Will Last and dark, menacing closer Fatal Energy, it widely perceived was an instant, new benchmark for thrash metal. Concrete proof that the Europeans could deliver albums to rival their American counterparts’ best efforts, Extreme Aggression still sounds like a bomb going off, 33 years on.